A Guide to Improving Mental Fitness in 2018


We’re still in the honeymoon period of the new year, feeling refreshed both physically and mentally. However, the time will come when the glow starts to fade, so here are some things that can keep you healthy and rejuvenated in your mind throughout the year.

  1. Media - Disconnect from the media at least once a week, just for a while. News is so easily available these days, and a lot of the narrative is negative. It can really get to you and take a toll on your mind, especially if the news is related to your environment or community. This includes the Ashoka Undergraduate Facebook group, because the endless appeals for lost keys and laptops aren’t always fun to read, and neither is the drama that unfolds every other week. That’s why it’s important to leave your devices behind and go out and do something. It might not change what’s happening in the world (or at college), but you will feel better not thinking about it, and return feeling refreshed and stronger.
  2. Cleaning - A cluttered room isn’t necessarily conducive to a clear mind (unless you’re a mad creative genius–then you should be okay), especially if you tend to stay indoors often. Every week, try cleaning something in your room. It can be your desk, your bed, your floor, or, if you’re feeling especially productive, the whole room. If your immediate surroundings are neat, it will feel like a breath of fresh air has passed through the room. This will also keep you busy if there are any thoughts you want to distract yourself from, and calm you down.
  3. Decor - Decorate your room as much as you like. If your house is being painted, see if your room can get a fresh coat in color or pattern you like.  You can decorate your dorm room with posters, dream catchers, and drawings–the list is endless, and there’s plenty of space on the board above your bed. Cushions, plush toys, and extra blankets can go a long way in keeping you comfortable, and help create a home away from home.
  4. Colors - Get anything and everything in your favorite colors. If you love pastels, get a pastel wallpaper for your phone and computer. If your favorite colors are purple and black, wear T-shirts and buy notebooks with those colors. Using colored pens in class makes note-taking a lot more fun. Surround yourself with colors and patterns that make you feel more positive–a smile brought by a polka-dotted blanket can make all the difference.
  5. Exercise - Whether it’s the gym, a sport, or even a walk in the garden, get your body moving every few days. Try not to use your phone at the same time (see point 1), and if your music is on your phone, turn off WiFi and mobile data while exercising. Take in some fresh air by walking or playing an outdoor sport if you can. This also helps in keeping your extra energy in check, and prevents you from feeling  restless and unable to focus. Keeping an eye on the other players and/or the equipment (volleyball, tennis ball, etc.) can improve your focus in other areas as well. Team sports are great for relationship building as well: you learn to work with others, rely on them, and even make new friends along the way.
  6. Food & Treats - Stay hydrated, and have a minimum of three meals a day. It sounds basic and should be something that can go unsaid, but when you’re busy with assignments and work, food doesn’t always remain a priority. Binge-watching movies or writing a paper all day is fine, but you’ll feel exhausted at the end, since you would have eaten absolutely nothing all day, had three sips of water, and only stopped watching/working once to use the bathroom. Treat yourself to snacks and favorite foods often. Good grade on a quiz? Buy a juice bottle from the vending machines. Had a fun sports session? Eat nachos at The Hunger Cycle. Feeling nervous about a paper? Binge on parathas at the Dhaba. There are plenty of occasions at Ashoka where you will feel low, but there are even more places where you can pick yourself up. These treats celebrate you and what you’ve done, and will keep your confidence up, along with your motivation level.
  7. Clothes - Sometimes, wearing comfy clothes is an advantage, while at other times, looking good makes you feel good too. Dressing up a little can help you feel confident, and if you need to relax, sweatpants are your best friend. Don’t force yourself to wear uncomfortable clothes just for an occasion, though. If you’re comfortable and confident on the outside, it usually seeps in, and vice versa. Who knows, wearing pajamas to your 8.30 A.M. Foundation Course might actually keep you awake and focused.
  8. Sleep - If you’re feeling low, and unable to do work, turning in for a nap might be the best thing you can do. Sleep refreshes you, and a problem won’t look so bad at the other end of your nap or night’s sleep. Ignore anything people say about two hours of sleep being an achievement at Ashoka (I ignored them, with excellent results). Even if you can’t get to sleep, just rest. Listen to music and shut your eyes. Let your body relax, and your brain will follow suit. The number of hours does matter, but so does the quality of sleep. You can feel exhausted even after ten hours, or refreshed after six. Sometimes, just lying down on a comfortable bed can make all the difference.
  9. Talking - Doing everything on your own is exhausting.Of course, it’s great to be independent, but there are times when we need help, or just a listening ear. If you’re struggling with the readings your professors are piling on you, or a book, ask a friend to help. If you’re homesick, call your parents! If you need to, contact the Ashoka Center for Well-Being. Shutting yourself away will not only take a toll on your mental health, but will also affect your relationships. Asking your friends and family for help can increase a sense of trust between you and them, while pushing them away will only worry them and lead to emotional difficulties later on.
  10. Music - Listen to music as much as you can. Whether it’s pop, jazz, or metal, songs that make you happy are an important part of life. You can even listen to them while working, as background soundtrack. Impromptu dance parties don’t hurt either–just be mindful of quiet hours! If there’s a song that fills you with energy and motivation, listen to it before exercising. If a song calms your anger, put in on repeat when you’re upset. Attend Vistaar’s open mic nights, or listen to the tracks Abhinaya’s members dance to. Music soothes the mind, and in turn, the soul. 

 Edited by Rangoli Gupta All images are curated by Viraj Malani