24 C
Thursday, February 9, 2023
24 C
Thursday, February 9, 2023
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    Weight off her mind

    Bahyiah Bakir

    Taking care of one’s mental health is just as important as taking care of physical health, and to continue to maintain physical health, one also needs to prioritise mental health.

    In Brunei Darussalam, statistics revealed during the 18th Legislative Council meeting in March showed that depression, anxiety and stress are common mental health issues.

    “Different people have different mental capacities in dealing with their problems. Some people are laid-back about it but some take it profoundly,” said 36-year-old officer Ria who works in the private sector in an interview on her struggles with mental health issues, her journey towards recovery and achieving a better life through fitness.

    “For some people when a lot is going on in their head – for example break-ups, family issues, loss of their loved ones and life problems – it accumulates. When you have no one to talk to, that can lead to depression,” she said.

    “When we do open up and talk about it, people tend to take it lightly, telling us not to overthink it,” she added. “It is important for the community to raise awareness and get more involved in terms of providing support and understanding and providing an outlet where they can vent their feelings.”

    Ria prepares to lift. PHOTOS: BAHYIAH BAKIR
    Ria at the gym

    Ria shared that mind-engaging activities such as painting and playing musical instrument help her mind focus on the activities she partakes in.

    She also spoke about her love of classical music, which calms her senses and relaxes her, while at other times, she listens to podcasts.

    She added that journalling also helps her to manage her depression. It makes her become more aware of herself and puts things into perspective.

    “Nothing in life is ever really a straight path, is it? Rivers wind, valleys dip, branches bend. Healing is not a linear process. Some people cannot be cured, but everyone can heal.

    Healing takes time to unfold,” she said.

    “Everyone has mental health issues at some point in their life. Don’t take it as a sign of weakness and stigmatisation and live in denial. Seek professional help.

    “Do what you need to do and keep moving forward. There is a silver lining in every cloud. If you’re not happy with your life, change something and keep going.

    “Of course, when you’re in such a state, you don’t want to keep going, but things will get better if you put the work in. It starts with you.”

    In 2016, Ria went out of her comfort zone to try different things.

    She always wanted to train and do workouts so she signed up for a membership at a local fitness centre. She liked the feeling after just finishing a workout, which she said made her feel happier in many ways.

    “I could feel my body getting stronger but the biggest improvement was that of my mental health. My mood was lifted. My self-esteem sky rocketed and I felt good about myself,” said Ria.

    Fitness training helps distract her from negative thoughts and provides opportunities to try new experiences.

    Ria said she had zero knowledge of fitness training, and had no idea what to do at the gym when she started. She also did not join classes until after a few months.

    “I had a hard time at the gym for the first few months. I was scared and I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was very shy.”

    A few months later, she slowly built trust and friendships with the gym members and staff, and has been a member since.

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, things had been forced to change, disrupting her routines.

    She suddenly felt mentally affected as a result of not being able to do what she loved.

    Ria found alternatives and solutions to stay active by purchasing gym equipment such as dumbbells, and did her exercises at home.

    She also subscribed to a fitness application for her smartphone so that she could do her fitness routine anytime, anywhere.

    “I cannot stop exercising. Fitness has been a lifestyle for me. Working out doesn’t have to be a chore. You have to have passion for it,” she said. “It was a good thing I found my passion through depression.”

    Ria has accomplished a lot of fitness achievements. With her six years of experience in weightlifting and fitness training, she has been participating in fitness competitions held locally, mostly bagging first prizes.

    In addition to feeling happier and stronger every day, she has changed her lifestyle and outlook on life.

    “Whatever you are going through, never give up because breakdowns can lead to breakthroughs. We are not our past.

    “Every day is a new opportunity to find your gratitude and be better than what you were,” she added.

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