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.

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.

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.

Home-sick

I am currently sat at my dining table, in the comfort of my own home. I feel so grateful, blessed and happy today.

This, however, was not the case when I was away from home, due to work, for over the past two months. Working Christmas day, Boxing day and New Year’s Day was one thing; but working shift-after-shift with very little breathing space and opportunity to go home and rest, was something else altogether. I was physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausted. As a result, my mood hit a rock bottom for a couple of weeks in January.

January marks the beginning of the year filled with hope, but for me it marked a feeling of hopelessness, lack of motivation and commitment. I had withdrawn myself from everything and everyone. I just about managed to wake up and go to work. I was forcing smiles at everyone whilst I was crying inside. I had very little motivation to cook which meant I was living off Tesco-brand prawn crackers for dinner for at least 2 weeks. Basically, I was in a very bad place and I was very close to getting professional help because I had no idea who to turn to and I had no idea what to do with myself.

It was not until I had a phone conversation with my parents that I realised why I was so low. I missed my family and my home. A LOT. I missed being spoilt by my parents. I missed eating my mum’s food. I missed my dad always fixing my car to ensure it was that much safer to survive the motorway drives I do. I missed listening to my sister’s random outbursts of singing from her room. Ultimately, I started to value and appreciate my family and my home to an extent that I thought could not be possible until recently.

I am not a ‘perfect’ child, whatever that means. Many people think I am, but I am not. I have made my fair share of mistakes and I have hurt my parents a lot. I am a human after all. It was never intentional but clearly there was a point in my life when hormonal influences had overridden my actual mind. What has changed now? Well I am working. But more than that, I am working with lives. I see individuals at the brink of their lives just wanting to spend their last moments surrounded by their family in the comfort of their own homes. Can we blame them for wanting this? NEVER. Seeing life and death daily is beginning to change me very slowly. Everything I see at work reminds me of my family. I do not know whether this is healthy for me in the long run, but I know that such reminders are what push me to take extra care of my patients (even though there is only so much you can do as an F1 doctor). All these thoughts and memories of my family, coupled with not being able to see them for ages, started to overwhelm me. I realised that my low mood was attributed to feeling so home-sick.

This weekend has been the first since the weekend before Christmas, that I spent time with my family…and I am on cloud nine! I have decided to stay home all weekend. I wanted to enjoy home and genuinely feel grateful about being surrounded by the most amazing individuals ever. I would not be the person I am today if it had not been for my mum, dad and sister. I am enjoying my bed, my mum’s food, my dad’s constant advice giving, and my sister’s general presence. I even enjoyed having the most pointless arguments with my mum yesterday!

When I was driving from Birmingham to London this Thursday night, I was literally crying out in happiness. I am not even exaggerating. Yes, it all sounds very melodramatic, but when your mental health has been suffering for so long because you have missed home that much, that drive back home becomes a very emotional affair.

I parked up, opened the door and was greeted by my mum and dad’s hugs. HOME. Suddenly, all that sadness, welling up inside me, faded.

Life is short. I am realising this more and more especially as I work in a profession where individuals may deteriorate within a blink of an eye. This has made me appreciate the loving and caring souls around me that much more, because we do not know what will happen tomorrow. Be grateful, stay humble and be present. Most importantly, do not take family and friends for granted. Life is full of blessings, and a beautiful family is the first and ultimate that we have to cherish.

My Morning Routine – For Increased Productivity

How well your day is going to go is very much determined by how you start your day.

My mother instilled this value into me ever since the day I remember. Therefore, I give a lot of importance to how I start my day. I really enjoy having a calm and relaxed morning. This sets the manner in which I am going to progress for the next 24 hours. For example, when I have a rushed morning, the rest of the day naturally becomes stressful and I lack motivation to complete anything. When I have a calm and productive morning, the rest of the day develops onwards and upwards!

Firstly, with my usually busy schedule of trying to balance medicine, dance and blogging commitments equally throughout the day, being organized and productive is of utmost importance to me; as a result, I like to use my mornings to plan what I need to get through for the rest of the day. Secondly, I struggle to find me-time during the day, so my mornings are the perfect time for me to really enjoy my own company and spend time with myself, and only myself.

I am going to now go into more depth about what I do in the mornings, especially as many people have asked me how I manage to balance everything and what helps with my productivity.

1) I wake up at least an hour before I have to leave for work. For example, if I need to leave at 8am, I wake up at 7am, the latest.

2) The moment I get out of bed, I make my bed. This may sound like a unimportant thing. Remember, however, that it is a task. This is the first task I perform for the day, and it is already one which helps to keep my room look and feel clutter feel. When my room looks and feels this way, I already feel more positive.

3) I then brush my teeth, shower and get ready. I usually plan my outfit the night before, so I do not need to stress out in the morning, and the process of getting ready is a lot faster as a result.

4) Once I am ready, I go straight to the kitchen to make myself a cup of tea. Whilst the kettle is boiling, I make sure to drink a glass of water and eat a fruit of some sort (bananas are my favourite!) – what you eat for the rest of day is also determined by what you eat in the morning, so remember to eat healthily. By this point, the kettle has boiled and I can make my tea.

5) With my tea, I go to my room/living room and open my diary to check what I have to do for the day. I edit my things-to-do list as necessary, either in my diary or my phone. I personally like to have a physical diary. You may call me old school, but it actually does help when I am able to physically write my commitments, things-to-do and deadlines. I use my phone to compliment my paper diary but I have learnt not to rely on my phone as much as I once did.

6) Once I have gone through my to-do list, I am mentally prepared for the rest of the day and know exactly what I need to achieve.

7) After this, I pick up the recent book that I am reading, I sit down and read for around 20 to 30 minutes. This time is crucial for me; and it is the only time I get during the day to read. It is my form of meditation. I forget about everything and immerse myself into the world created for me by the book.

8) Once I have had my reading session, I am nearly ready to take-on the rest of the day. All I have left to do is pack my lunch (if I am taking lunch to work), water bottle and bag. I prepare my lunch the night before in my lunch box and leave it in the fridge so I do not have to worry about it in the morning. The same applies for my water bottle and bag. This then means that I actually do not have much else to do before I leave for work.

9) Finally, with everything ready now, I just put my jacket on, take my bag and am ready for the day!

As you can probably see, I plan the order of even the smallest of things for my morning. When my morning goes smoothly, I genuinely have a lot more motivation and drive to get through all my tasks and jobs for the day. My mind is in the correct place as well to face anything the day is to bring.

A large part of my morning routine involves me being organized the night before. These changes will not happen overnight. It has taken me years of conditioning to ensure my mornings go according to my plan. Everyone’s priorities for their morning routine may be different, so I do not expect everyone to follow this. My point is, having a focused and detailed morning routine will set the tone for the rest of the day, so do not neglect your mornings!

Hope you found this useful. Please feel free to share your morning routines. Would love to hear what you guys do!

Praveena x

Should it always be about the hustle?

In recent times, terms like ‘hustle’, ‘grind’ and ‘hard work’ are really trending. We are all trying to build a life where we are constantly pushing ourselves and striving for more.

I love how I have built my life. Working professionally as a Doctor, creatively as a Dancer and personally as a Blogger. It really is an amazing feeling. I am learning to push my own limits and reach for heights which I never thought were possible.

However, here is the real deal. It is exhausting and I am exhausted. I am constantly ill, sleep-deprived, and tired, all because I am constantly working on what to do now and then planning my next ventures. On top of all of this, commuting as much as I do to ensure I accomplish my goals has a knock on effect on my productivity and quality of the work I am producing. This made me question whether all this hustling was actually worth it, when my mental and physical health is not at its best as a result of it all.

Sadly, we are also the generation where mental illness is at its peak. Depression and anxiety are becoming so much more prevalent in professionals. So maybe if we built a community where it was more acceptable to take well-earned breaks, we would be facing a decline in mental health problems.

Long story short, I have learnt that we need to push ourselves to strive for more, but within reason. I am slowly learning about the importance of resting and giving myself a break. I do not mean just 1 to 2 hours a day. I mean 1 to 2 days a week. I need at least one day a week where I am focusing on nothing related to medicine/dance/blogging. I need at that one day to re-energise. I need that one day to bounce back stronger. I used to think taking a break was weak. No way!

Taking a break is the strongest thing we can do for ourselves. We need it. Especially as we are the generation pursuing more than one profession/passion. Let’s give ourselves a break, because we deserve it. At the end of the day, hard work alone is not enough. We need to know how to work smart as well, and that is where the trick is.

My new motto in life is: take as many breaks as you work!

Don’t take for granted freedom of speech

Words are so powerful. They have the ability to make or break any situation.

I’ve seen so many use words so powerfully to create such an impact in society. That is what I call inspirational.

In contrast, there are people who use the term ‘freedom of speech’ to talk bad about others and harm/hurt others. This is what I call an embarrassment to humanity.

If more and more individuals understood the power of their words and how to tailor it to meet the needs of society, we would all be growing at an exponential rate!