Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Decongesting the stores : #Decluttering #Finding Productive Uses For Old,Redundant,Unused Stuff.

The passage of years and the collection of belongings run concomittantly.Numerous items like utensils,crockery,gadgets,garments,footwear,books,journals,linen and outdoor/indoor games slowly but insidiously crowd our living space.

As soon as a young couple gets married they dive into a spree of buying essential items which will enable them to run an efficient household.In the subconscious kindles a desire to buy costly upmarket stuff  to raise their living standard.Friends and relatives add to their treasure.Then come their children and their needs and and belongings too multiply.Time passes.

Thus it goes on until one day they realize that a lot of unused and now useless stuff is actually crowding precious living space without giving anything in return.This day dawned for me a couple of years back.So I pulled up my socks and got to work. 

It was like a journey in a timemachine.There were things which served absolutely no purpose.Things which belonged to an earlier era:Like a pair of ancient weighing scales;many timepieces;an old gas stove;and defunct irons,toasters,and mixer grinders.The flight of years and a changed lifestyle had rendered them useless.All these were given away to whosoever would have them.Faded rugs and aged footwear followed suit.

Next in line were things which could work but had been replaced by newer versions.I was holding them in the hope that some day they might serve a purpose,but what hope was there of this happening when I had not even touched them since umpteen years?I gave them away to needy persons and was mighty pleased with this change in my thinking--I was becoming less of a hoarder.

But old habits die hard.There were many new steel utensils which had been put away because they were surplus.But I did not want to give them away even though I did want to clear some space in my cupboards.So I worked out new ways of using them. I chucked out many plastic containers and took out steel items which could be used instead. A steel teaset began to hold condiments, sugar and mouth freshners.Tight lidded pots and pans were used to house ghee and oil. A beautiful antique brass glass began to hold cutlery instead of the old plastic stand.The shelf stuffed with unused steel utensils heaved a sigh of relief. 

But this task of decongesting the store was getting harder and harder. I had to do something about my overcrowded crockery shelf.Crockery is a kind of fetish with me. I see a beautiful piece and I am impelled to buy it.Nevertheless my crusade to clear the store had to continue.So the teapots began to hold money plants. Milk jugs and sugar pots came handy for housing picckles,sauces and curd starters. Adieu to a couple of teasets.The fancy bonechina tea cups had to remain for guests. I couldn't use them for our daily tea because I'm a good breaker of things-they just slip from my hands. Since I needed new cups for the daily tea,I took out juice glasses and began to use them instead.Now the crockery cupboard showed signs of improvement. 

After this I switched my attention to a tier of linen and curtains which had become surplus-having been replaced by new ones.Two badgered bedcovers were spread over mattresses to protect them from spills.I folded another and stitched it to make a yoga mat.An attractive curtain began to be used as a divan cover.Another curtain was transformed into four cushion covers:giving a new look to my living room. As you might have guessed, I am very good at stitching. 

The next task was again a difficult one:heaps of rejected, unused garments.I had already given many to my maid,gardener and sweeper.What to do about the rest?This revived memories of door to door sales women who used to exchange old garments or sheets etc with new utensils-not that I needed any-but still,it was a good way of disposing off unwanted clothes.

Anyhow the problem had to be tackled. So I selected a shirt of mine and made an apron out of it while another was made into a shopping bag.A couple were stashed to be used as dusters(hoarding again?),yes.However this made only a small dent to the problem.So I contacted an NGO which accepts old garments to be distributed to the poor.Finally I took the whole lot and gave it to them.

We conserve many things in the hope that our children will use them after us. But if they are well off they are unlikely to need old household stuff or have space for it.Even middle class youngsters want to buy the latest stuff of their own choice.What I did was,to invite my kids to take away things which have heirloom quality, or are dear to them and dispose off the rest.Now I  have more storage space and less of cleaning and maintenance to do. It was a very satisfying journey believe me.


Saturday, February 26, 2022

Personality Traits Which Are a Risk Factor For #Anxiety or #Depression

#Mental Disorders are on the rise,the most common being  Anxiety and Depression.Unfortunately these are much maligned and nebulous ailments.Many victims suffer in silence and seek no treatment because of their own reticence or the stigma attached to these disorders.The causes vary from environmental,genetic and medical factors to an imbalance in brain chemistry or hormones.

Looking at it from another perspective we can say that certain personality traits too can predispose one to a mental disorder.These traits may not be harmful in themselves but when combined with a serious problem or a critical situation they can generate excessive anxiety.Hence it is best to keep them in check.

  • Overthinking Overthinking about any prospect,person,relationship or incident confuses the mind by  generating unreasonable doubts and suspicions which give rise to Anxiety.
  • Cognitive Distortions :What's more,overthinking can easily lead to " A cognitive distortion — and there are many — is an exaggerated pattern of thought that’s not based on facts. It consequently leads you to view things more negatively than they really are."They  come in many garbs.Here are a few examples.Filtering, when a person remembers only the negative aspects of an experience,forgetting the good part.Maximization and minimization when he magnifies a problem and minimizes his own ability to solve it.Black and White Thinking,where he would judge even a moderate situation as a bad one because only the perfect one will do. Catastrophic thinking, which denotes  predicting dire outcomes at the onset of any development,the prophecies being negative as well as irrational.Obviously, these habits can become a breeding ground for anxiety.Then we have Overgeneralisation in which we take a single incident to represent the whole cycle. 
  •  Introversion :This causes anxiety in many ways.Generally introverts do not like to meet people or talk to them.As a result they do not share their worries or problems with anyone.Catharsis is a tall order for them.They spend a lot of time condemning their own habits and  ruminating about past follies or future challenges.Naturally this increases their anxiety. 
  • Pessimism.A pessimist views the world through dark glasses.Every turn of events is accompanied by a fear that it is going to be inimical for him.These fears accumulate and then transform into Anxiety.He even appraises a beneficial change as not so good or just a chance happening.No wonder he finds little  to be happy about.
  • Emotionalism versus Rationalism.In the face of a crisis highly emotional people are so overwhelmed by their emotions that finding a solution and working towards it becomes difficult.This prolongs their anxiety.Rationals can better manage their troubles.
  • Inferiority Complex is another possible cause of frequent bouts of tension.A person who believes he is not as fit,smart,intelligent or efficient as others around him fails to find peace. 

It is easy to see that one's personality and behavior patterns can either enable one to fight his way out of  troubles or push him into the dark chambers of  a #Mental  Disorder.So many things come in to play.An individual's past life and his rearing matter a lot.If his life till date has been spent in fighting against odds and finding a space for himself,  he might have the resilience and the confidence that he has done it before and he can do it again when things go wrong.On the other hand another misfortune knocking at his door could dishearten someone else completely.He may decide that he is totally exhausted and cannot do it again.

#Mental Strength and a #Positive attitude have a big role to play in  the sphere of mental disorders.Being grateful for what we have and optimistic for what may come in future helps a lot.It is best to remember that whatever happens,happens for the best.

Excerpt taken from PsychCentral.com 

Saturday, January 15, 2022

Use It Or Lose It

This adage is nowadays drumming in my ears.I have come across many individuals who used to be fit,smart,active and communicative but these days there is barely a faint glimmer in them of what they used to be.The spark which defined their personalities is absent.No doubt Covid 19 and the resultant isolation is responsible for this change.But totally?I don't think so.

Lock-downs and the ancillary restrictions compelled (?) us to give up many activities which had earlier made us who we were.In due course their advantages began to deplete.Seeing the repercussions of this change in my own life and that of my acquaintances,I was convinced about the veracity of this adage-"Use it or Lose it".

Take fitness for example.The compulsion to stay indoors led many of us to give up our exercise regimes.Some tried to replace them with exercising or walking indoors,but not with the same gusto.The time which used to be spent in vigorous work outs came to be spent in restful past times too.No wonder aches and pains surfaced and muscles sagged.

Equally deleterious has been the effect of these circumstances on sports or outdoor games .Absence of cricket,tennis,football or basketball etc in the daily routines of so many has led to loneliness, lethargy and loss of  agility.

 And what about social interactions? Social visits,friendly get-togethers,parties and myriad outings of various kinds suddenly came to an end.We tried to achieve the same connectivity through social media but by and by this changeover generated a kind of nervousness and antipathy about speaking out loud our reactions and feelings--whether positive or negative. Emojis took up this role.This habit detracted from our expertise in the field of social interactions.As a result making polite conversation,sharing feelings,helping friends or even asking for help-all this took a blow. Our speaking skills rusted.

Coming to my own experience,I took a long break from writing and blogging,as many of you might have noticed.To my horror when I finally did take up pen and paper I found that my vocabulary had dried up.It was very distressing. I immediately picked up pen and paper and got to work.Slowly the flow returned.It was not as bad as I had feared.Thank God I woke up in time.But I am convinced of the role of practice in maintaining our abilities at optimum levels.Hence this piece.

It is not merely a question of practicing an ability to save it from  from deterioration.An amalgam of interests and activities must have joined together to form our personalities before this epidemic invaded our lives.They all contributed to our health,happiness and prosperity.Obviously when we gave up some of those activities we also lost a part of the shine. 

Unforeseen events often barge in to spoil the pitch.We gain some and lose some.But  the factors which are essential for our health and happiness should not be neglected.Do,share your own experience, how has this calamity changed you and what has helped you to sail through these difficult times?