The 6 Pillars of a Healthy Relationship

As a child, I actually preferred to spend time alone. I did not understand why I was bullied for wanting to spend time by myself. I was called ‘saddo’, ‘loner’ and ‘boring’. Of course it hurt, but I look back on those days and pat myself on the back for being so comfortable to be on my own. Why? Because I believe, at such a tender age, I spent a lot of time building a relationship with myself and getting accustomed to my own company. Therefore when I started to choose and form my own long-terms relationships in the form of friends and family, I felt more comfortable and it happened a lot easier than we all make it out to be.

I am not a relationship guru, but I have been through my fair share of experiences in different kinds of relationships to know what works and what does not. Now when I talk about relationships, it is not just isolated to romantic ones. When I talk about relationships, I mean every single relationship we form with every human being we encounter and bond with. This includes friendships, romantic partners, business partners, family, and work colleagues, to name a few.

Maintaining a positive and healthy relationship is just as much a test of you as it is the other person, so I want to talk about how we can and should be in a relationship to ensure it is beautiful, healthy and long-lasting.

1. Honesty, openness & trust. I never understand how any bond can form without being honest and open about yourself. The more honest and open we are, the more trust we will be able to build with the other party. I am a firm believer of being honest and open about our past experiences as much as our future; we need to know that the other party knows enough about us to understand where we come from and why we are the way we are, and exploring those past experiences is crucial in understanding each other. Let’s not dwell on the past however, but use it as a foundation to build the relationship.

2. Communication & intimacy. When I mean intimacy, I mean emotional and mental intimacy. Just knowing that we can comfortably drop our guard really does strengthen the relationship. It makes us value and appreciate how comfortable the other person makes us feel – this kind of intimacy is precious, and no amount of physical intimacy can replace that. To have that level of intimacy, we need to be able to communicate comfortably. If there is anything on our mind, we need to be able to communicate it in a respectful manner. If something bothers us, we need to voice it. If we feel judged by the other party, we know they are no longer worth being in our life. Period.

3. Kindness, love & respect. I think this is a basic human quality. It surprises me how little I see of this in society. Every relationship is built on genuine kindness, and a love for someone or something. From this kindness and love comes respect. When someone is kind, loving and respectful to themselves, they will naturally be able to shower those around them with the same kindness, love and respect.

4. Understanding, loyalty & humility. We are in no position to change the other person. Instead we need to invest our time into understanding them to their fullest. Let them be free and live their best life. We need to be humble and give space for each other to grow. When we understand an individual and why they are who they are, we are able to appreciate them better and love them even more for who they are. Yet none of this is worth it if we are not loyal. Our loyalty should always remain with that relationship; to go outside of that relationship and talk negatively about the other person makes us less of the humans we were born to be.

5. Friendship & laughter. No matter what kind of relationship you are working on, there needs to be a lot of friendship and laughter. Being a person who makes others laugh, or being around people who make us laugh, really elevates our frequency. We are driven to have even more fun, which in turn strengthens our relationship.

6. Having an identity of your own. We should not be defined by the relationship. We need to ensure we have an identity that goes beyond that relationship. This is how we can boost our self-confidence and therefore be the best version of ourselves for that relationship. Just knowing that we have our own life and goals, makes the relationship stronger because of how much more value and wisdom is added to that relationship.

Ultimately we need to feel comfortable being our true self. If we are not valued and cherished for the person we are, it is a sign that we need to bid that relationship farewell.

Mental Well-being During Lockdown

I wish there was less negativity around lockdown. I am so happy at the moment. I have so much control over my life, and I feel so in touch with my inner self. I really want more people to feel this way. This feeling is truly addictive, and the moment we figure out ways to feel so, there is no turning back.

I’m going to get straight to the point and describe ways in which we can help improve our mental well-being during lockdown.

1. Keep a gratitude journal. I have been reading about having a gratitude journal for years, but I only started practicing it one month ago. Every morning, I spend 10-15 minutes writing about what I am grateful for. There is no better way to start my day and I am so happy to have finally got into the habit of doing so. (If you do not like writing, then voice note it to yourself and listen back to it at the end of the day!).

2. Learn to breathe. As a human beings we are terrible at breathing in a nourishing way. This only worsens our states of anxiety. I personally have been focusing on breathing more regularly throughout the day. Every time I feel my mind wonder, I try and focus it back on my breathing. It is making me realise that our breath is the only real thing at any moment in time. By taking control of our breathing we are claiming control over how we respond to the external situations.

3. Be present. Being sat at home is apparently ‘brain numbing’ and ‘boring’. I think the complete opposite. We can add value to every moment of our life if we are present. We need to focus on what is. We need to focus on the now. We may never get such an opportunity to spend again with our family. We need to relish it and use it to reconnect with our loved ones. We need to learn to be present in each of our endeavors big or small, throughout our day.

4. Learn to do things on your own. Workout alone. Dance alone. Cook alone. Clean alone. Sing alone. Enjoy your own company. Enjoy getting to know yourself. The reality is, not many of us know who we really are. Our understanding of ourself has unfortunately become what we think society thinks we are. This is the prime time to change that. When we get comfortable being alone, we are unstoppable.

5. Take a break from social media. This is potentially the hardest. Everyone is bored at home and using social media to entertain themselves (thanks Instagram and TikTok). It is just proving how much we are seeking for external validation to define our happiness. Such happiness is short-lived. This applies to any distractions we may have. We need to break free from this escapism culture and face our real self. Take a few days off, maybe a few weeks – I took a month off! I stripped away everything I thought I was, to find out I am just a human like anyone else.

I have said this before and I say it again. I honestly believe we have been blessed with lockdown. We have come to realise how much our excitement and joy has always relied on external factors/events, rather than from within. This is the time for us to make peace with our inner selves and just enjoy being, instead of complaining about everything that we could have been doing if lockdown was not in place.

Stay home. Stay safe. Learn about yourself.

Take off your social mask

We all have a social mask. Whether we like to admit it or not, we all do. Most of us even have our social mask so well defined so we can rally it out on our CVs, LinkedIn profiles, social media bios, or when someone asks the golden ‘Tell me about yourself’ question.

Want to hear mine?

‘I am a 26 year old Sri Lankan Tamil girl, born and brought up in the UK. I am currently working as a junior doctor for the NHS. I am also a Bharathanatyam and Bhangra dancer. I am a dance choreographer, events organiser and blogger. Above all, I am a daughter, sister, lover and friend.’

Fancy right?!

In the last 2 weeks that I have had to self-isolate, I have reflected a lot. During these two weeks, I was not any of what I described above. I was a human being in bed, confined to one room, taking regular paracetamol to bring my fever down, rubbing Vicks onto my chest and nose to aid my breathing; I hadn’t showered in days; I was not eating. Ultimately I was an unwell human being. That’s all.

I looked at myself as a human being. That is what I am. I am a human being. We all are the same. We are all human beings, trying to survive in a world that so desperately wants us to have a definition for ourselves.

This desperation is what pushes us to make decisions, say things, build stories that may not be hundred percent true to who we truly are, and what we have achieved. Why? Because we want to fit in. We want to feel validated. We want to feel like we have a purpose.

This forms part of the reason that I bid Instagram farewell. We are all so tuned into to thinking so two-dimensionally. We are all looking at ourselves through social masks, rather than as human beings. I found it all so fake and untrue. I found myself moulding into this 2D person. I saw people lie about their lives so openly, for attention. I was scared I was falling into this trap. The funny thing is, if we all used such technology as mere human beings, it probably would not be as exciting as it is. I needed a break from such superficiality. I needed a break from mindless scrolling. I need a break from creating dance content just to create a ‘buzz’.

It was a really hard decision. I have been going back and forth on this decision for at least a year now. I was scared of deactivating my Instagram accounts because I was scared that I would no longer be defined as a dancer, because I did not have an Instagram page that said I was one. It made me realise how much I was relying on social masks to define myself. That is when I told myself, enough is enough.

Socially I am living a life that every girl/boy my age could only dream of. Spiritually, emotionally and mentally, I was losing myself to social conditioning. I decided to snap out of it and here I am. Thank you to social distancing, self-isolation and self-reflection.

One hard good-bye

So this weekend, after ages, I drank quite a bit of alcohol. I got drunk to an extent that I was vomiting and passed out. I can’t remember the last part of the night. All I remember next was waking up in my friend’s flat.

I honestly have not got that drunk in ages! I have actively been staying away from alcohol for some time. I drink small amounts when I go out for meals, but that is about it.

Honestly, this experience has been an eye-opener (no pun intended). I feel embarrassed, and that feeling of what could’ve happened when I was completely out of it, gives me anxiety. I’m getting mini-panics every time I think about what others would’ve thought about me. I know these thoughts of what others think do not define the person I am, but I cannot help it can I?

I just thought to write about my thoughts and feelings. In the past 2 days, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection about what I want out of life. Alcohol is not on that list anymore. Having fun with alcohol is definitely not a priority for me. I have realized that I have so much to achieve and accomplish, and alcohol is proving to be a hindrance to that. It is slowing me down. Most importantly, it is the biggest barrier to my current spiritual growth.

I am not against alcohol at all and I will definitely have a glass of wine socially with a meal. However, drinking to get drunk and have fun is definitely not me. I’ve been there, done that. I’m turning into a different person, and I’m proud of this self-reflection and awareness of my spiritual, emotional and physical needs.

Him & I

My boyfriend and I went through a rough patch recently. Living 200 miles apart, working so hard on our individual goals and ambitions, working on completely different shift patterns, on top of trying to schedule in some social time for ourselves and each other. IT IS SO DAMN HARD.

I’m grateful that we never let our difficulties get the best of us. We always try to work as a team on our problems. It’s never me against him. It is us against the problem.

Recently I taught him about Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages. We discussed what we wanted. The conversation was such a spiritually enlightening and eye-opening experience . It is crazy that what we both want is ‘Quality Time’ with each other, more than anything else. The irony is that we are so busy building our individual dreams we do not have the time to spend quality time together. We talked about this and I’m glad we are always able to have such conversations and come up with solutions. The world truly does work in mysterious ways and I’m grateful that I have chosen him to experience life with.

I feel motivated to be a better version of myself every moment I spend with him. Yes it is going to be tough, but when we both know we are working so hard for our future, it makes it all the more worth it.

No one told me it would be this hard

It is so difficult to focus on this present moment when I was programmed all my life to think about the: ‘what if’, ‘what next’, ‘how will it’.

I sat down to meditate today and I really struggled to hone in on the Now. I had a flood of thoughts about what I had to do next, and what I had to do tomorrow. I felt like I was physically fighting my way against thinking these thoughts which drained more of my energy.

Accept it. Don’t resist it. What I had learnt today is my thoughts do not define me. I cannot start judging myself for not being present. Actually thinking those thoughts was my present. The more I resisted, the more I hated myself for resisting. I just have to accept that that is what my mind is thinking of at this moment, be at peace with it and continue. I believe that slowly that will help to calm my mind down.

I can see that this journey to awareness and presence is going to be a long one, but I know I will get there eventually.

How to start on a spiritual journey?

We are spiritual beings, already on a spiritual path. Our souls are united to the universe as one. Therefore, we do not need to search elsewhere to begin a spiritual journey. Our spiritual journey begins in the here, and now. We need to become aware and conscious of our thoughts, desires, feelings and emotions.

We live in a world right now where we love to talk and read about spirituality, thinking that this alone will grant us the right to call ourselves spiritually enlightened. The truth is that the desire to consciously embark on a spiritual journey must come from within. Books, podcasts may inspire us. That’s great, but to act on it is another story. Spirituality is an internal process, that cannot be confined to the limitations of words on a page, images/videos on social media. It is an inner awakening that occurs.

Behind this smile…

This smile holds so many secrets. Behind this smile, is endless days of exhaustion and tears; the number of days I have gone to sleep crying. I force myself to be a lot stronger than I actually am, for the fear that if I start to expose my tears, everyone/everything around me will crumble.

I always tell myself, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to be sad. It’s okay to have any sort of emotion so long as we know how to process it safely and appropriately. Why do we judge ourselves so soon for any emotion we feel? Why are we so keen to label every emotion we experience? I can feel any emotion I want. After all, I am a human.

I just pray we are all kinder to each other. Judge less. Love more. Live more.

Is it worth it?

I do not think my anxiety has ever been so bad. I’m currently on a FY2 rotation that is reminding me of how ego-centric some individuals in this healthcare world can be.

I can’t remember the last time I actually breathed properly. My breaths are so shallow and I constantly have a sinking feeling in my chest. I get stressed every time my name is mentioned in conversation. I am 5 days late on my period, which is freaking me out big-time. My skin is exploding with spots, even with clean-eating and skin care, which has never happened before.

I came into this profession in the hope of interacting with humans, and using the knowledge I have gained to help people. Instead, I constantly feel on edge that I’ve made a mistake. I am constantly judged by my seniors for what I do and don’t do. I was always seen as the most helpful individual; now I feel like I have shuffled to the bottom of the pile. I feel like I am a day 1 medical student, not getting the recognition I deserve for the hard work I am putting in.

I don’t complain that easily and I have a very high threshold to bullsh*t. For me to come to a breaking point where I can’t take this anymore, just shows me so much more that this particular specialty and its staff are not my kind of people.

I would like to believe that I am good human being who wants the best for her patients. I know I am safe doctor. However, I am being questioned left, right and centre for every single decision I take.

Enough of the stress. I am grateful for some of the lovely individuals I have met on this rotation who are genuinely the sweetest. I do not want the negativity of others impact my overall experience of this rotation, however difficult this may be.

Ever since the day I made the decision to be a doctor, as a child, I knew I wanted to be a GP. I was in denial all through medical school because of the stigma associated with being a GP. Those who decide to be GPs are deemed as lazy, not knowledgable and just generally boring. I, on the other hand, think GPs are one of the nicest group of humans you will find, who are so in touch with humanity and life, and they are so damn smart! They have a life outside of medicine which they are equally proud of, and that’s what I want. I strongly believe hospital medicine is the tip of the iceberg. All the hard work, to prevent the population from attending hospitals in the first place, takes place in the community by GPs and other community healthcare practitioners. Isn’t it something like 80 to 90% health consultants happen in the community? So for all those ‘stuck-up’ hospital practitioners (which isn’t everyone by the way, but there are few who think they are above all), it’s about time you stopped dumbing down community health-care.

I cannot wait for November! I will be so focused on my GP applications. And then from December onwards, I will be starting my GP rotation, which I genuinely cannot wait for.

Good things are coming Praveena. So for now, just be patient and remember to BREATHE. All the pain you are experiencing now is for you to appreciate the amazing-ness that is yet to come!

Situational Judgement – Do not trust too soon

So I haven’t blogged in a while.

I had a few incidences happen which has led me back to writing this time round.

For those of you who are new to my blog, my name is Praveena. I turned 26 last Friday. I am currently an FY2 junior doctor, working on my Trauma and Orthopaedic rotation. In addition to doctoring, I am also a dancer. I have put some emphasis on my career in Medicine just now because what I am going to describe is to do with my job.

For over the past year, I have been a very hard working individual. I am may not be the most knowledgeable at all times, but I work hard and smart to ensure everything is done for each patient, ensuring patient safety is of utmost importance always. Not once has anyone said I am anything less than hardworking, motivated and enthusiastic. In fact I know this for myself.

Last week I was on my night shifts. There was a trauma call so I was in A&E Resus with my Registrar. After a while, my Registrar told me to go back to wards and complete any outstanding jobs left there, and that he will stay on A&E and sort anything else out. I asked him whether he was sure, he said ‘yes of course.’ Therefore I came back to the wards and made a start on outstanding jobs.

My shift finished, I was off for the weekend. Today, I was meant to go in for work, however I was taken ill so I had to take a sick day. I caught up with my work colleague after she had finished work. We were just talking about the job and how it is going when she dropped into the conversation that the Registrar I was working with on my night shift last week, was complaining about apparently how I lazy I was, and that he had to do all the work in A&E and that I wasn’t there to help him out. This took me by a massive surprise because he was the one who told me to go back to the wards.

At the time my colleague disclosed this to me, I was fairly fine. Now, however, the more I think about it the more upset I am getting. Why? Because I am so hard-working, and I know it. I’ve worked really hard all my life and build a very good working reputation. It breaks my heart to think that one false accusation can really destroy it.

I have made a choice to be nice to everyone. I have made a choice to bite my teeth through any hardship. However, there is a very fine line. I am not here to be trampled on, and I am not here to stand and listen to people talk lies about me. I do not accept people use their authority to throw whatever garbage that comes out of their mouth at me.

I do not think of this as a failure. It is a lesson. It is a lesson for me to be more alert and aware of others. It’s not my job to please others. My loyalty lies with my job and my patients; not with the seniors who look down on their juniors. I will continue to be the lovely and grounded human that I am, because that is the best version of me. Sadly, however, I am also forced to be on high alert of anyone who is quick to judge me. If I hear anything of the sort again, I will have a low-threshold to approach them and address this issue with them directly, or even better, escalate it to my supervisors.

No junior doctor should be made to feel like they are peasants ever; sad truth is, there is a small group of Registrars who treat us juniors this way, and it is not on.

Just had these thoughts on my mind, and I was crying about it all evening. Wanted to just write about and and let out my anger, frustration and sadness.

Looking forward to work tomorrow.