Open up your mind and your potential reaches infinity…

Archive for March, 2012

Gimme all your worries

Published in TheNews Blog :

“What if my boss doesn’t like my work?”

What if I get cancer?

What if I don’t pass the exam?

What if my friends don’t like my dress?

What if Mommy doesn’t come back from work?

Worries! Age, gender and ethnicity, is no bar. From babies to youth to middle aged to the elderly, we all have our share of them – a few valid, some too trivial to warrant a worry but we still do – but loads and loads of them are simply imaginary ones that never become real.

Some of us must have read the famous self help book by Dale Carnegie How to Stop Worrying and Start Living.

Some technologically savvy might have googled ‘How to deal with anxieties’ and got the tips:

  • Prepare for the worst, hope for the best
  • Practice relaxation
  • List your blessing
  • Distract yourself, keep busy
  • Get support

Quite a few of us Moms and Dads must have dealt with worrying kids and must have used our own tools either as healing words, “I understand your concern, but be strong “, or simply giving a tight reassuring hug without saying “I’m beside you.”

Perhaps many of us may even have trivialised “That’s nothing to worry about?” without realising that it adds to their worries rather than help them.

A few days ago while visiting a museum for the Mayan Civilization Exhibition in Toronto; I came across a very simple yet unique and fascinating way of dealing with worries. My attention was drawn to the tiny, barely 2.5- 3cm long set of six miniature dolls placed with a name: “Guatemalan worry dolls”.

On a closer look, they were tiny dolls made out of wrapping cloth or wool over tiny wires shaped as dolls and each one had faces with eyes and a smile drawn on them.

Later as I dug into the details, I learnt that they are an ancient Mayan tradition which is still being practiced by the surviving descendants of the ancient Mayans which live in Central America, specifically in Guatemala.

The dolls usually come in a pack of six handmade dolls and a tiny bag to carry them.

It is said that if the children who worry are told to share their worry with the ‘worry doll’ and place it under the pillow imagining that the doll will take care of that worry. Each doll is told one worry at a time. Many a times parents take away the doll from below the pillow, so that when the kids wake up in the morning thinking that with the doll, the worry too has disappeared. However, sometimes if the worries are recurrent, not removing the doll implies that the doll is working on the ‘worry’ to disappear.

The tradition has been claimed to be scientifically sound and helps kids learn to ‘speak out’ their worries instead of internalising them into long lasting fears. It also gives a subtle message that ‘someone’ cares. It is also know to work as a good tool to inculcate a habit of sound sleep. However, this may work only in those with mild or moderate worries, but not so much in situations of extreme anxiety.

It is claimed that ‘worry dolls’ have also been used in the hospitals, for young and old, to allay anxiety in patients while they undergo surgeries or cancer treatments. Some claim to have used them in class rooms in schools and meeting rooms in offices to cope with stress, and to boost creativity. They are even used for emotional healing in incurable illnesses, dealing with deaths or even heart breaks. I think with the potential they have, there is no dearth of situations where ‘worry dolls’ can be used. Imagination is the limit to utilize them as calming companions.

Though not mentioned in the information on dolls, their ‘tiny’ size taking up seemingly ‘big’ worries must be playing its part in the process of relaxation too.

Apart from the therapeutic value, what fascinated me was the art of making these miniature dolls by wrapping up wool or cloth on wire and giving them a resemblance to someone who ‘cares’.

So aptly was it mentioned in the literature: “Make your own worry dolls at home, just give them a dress, two pairs of limbs and a smiley face? And see them in action. You needn’t be a Picasso or a Freud.”

Horse ‘art’

Horse and man has been friends and companions since time immemorial.

It is said that their association dates back to almost 5,500 years ago. Initially used to carry loads, was later used as the main means of transportation, for wars and then for recreation.

The horse when used in wars needed protected gear like the knight or the soldier mounted on it.

For this horse armour was needed.

In ancient China, relevant to the local culture, the armour had its dragon look:

As came the middle ages, and Europeons  used horses for wars as well as transportation their armours were metallic carved plates which  rided on each other to give flexibility:

As times changed, horse use in the wars reduced.  The horse remained as man’s companion and their decorations became less protective and more decorated.

The Arabian horses ( here Moroccan)  had their touch of  embroidered decor:

European decorations differed, thus:

In a recent visit to Royal Ontario Museum I was stunned to see the horse decoration from Iran, which could easily put to envy any woman’s jewellary. This elaborate set of straps and coverings were made of silver, with gold plating,

and inlaid with Iranian turqoise.

The head dress had huge agates giving it a more terrific contrast.

The details of the design were mesmerising:

The austere decorations seen in South Asia using beads, colorful threads and wool tassels have their own charm:

While the Bedoiun horse decor from Egypt still uses  tassles of wool and bead work:

The art of decoration does not end here. The places where other aanimals like camel, ponies are used, they are similarly adorned.

And as buses, trucks and  rickshaws replace animals as the mode of transportation, even they too are as  ferviously bedecked with decorations.
(Details  later…)  

Smoke and don’t want to say QUITS ?

Do you smoke and are in no mood to quit?  Fine, this blog is for you.

The intention here is to give you some information without any strings attached. There won’t be any lecture, any pressure or any judgmental statements

The blog also means to support the person in you, and to give you some tips on how to relieve stress from your life which arises as a result of others reactions to your smoking. The blog shall not trick you to make you quit, I promise.

You are the only one in your life to decide whether you wish to smoke or to quit.

Although as a health activist, I would wish no one smoked, but we have to recognise that each person has a right to make his own choice. Anyone forcing it upon you will make it give a sense of deprivation and is bound to fail.

The blog will mainly discuss
1. How to deal with people who nag you to quit
2. Understand your own smoking habit
3. Get some new facts about smoking
4. Why would you not want to quit?

Before we begin with these points know that the fact that you smoke and don’t even want to quit smoking does not make you a devil.

POINT 1: How to deal with people who nag you to quit

“How many cigarettes do you smoke each day? Can’t you just stop this nuisance.”

“Listen, I know it is harmful. Don’t preach me, okay. I’ll quit when I want.”

I am sure these are the usual dialogues that you may be exchanging day in and day out.

The people around you must have told politely or at times harshly or even without words through their body language that they don’t approve of your smoking.

If they are your loved ones—relatives, friends or well wishers, they say because they care.
Remember that their intentions aren’t evil. But the problem is that they do not know how to convey it, or perhaps don’t know that their reminders or nagging won’t be of any benefit.

They know not that it puts you at a defensive and  can’t make you quit, for sure.

So what’s the way out?

Understand that they are well meaning. Appreciate their concern in words. Then, explain to them politely that their constant reminders would make you more annoyed and that their nagging will make your chances to quit harder.

And tell them that if they eased off, perhaps you will be less defensive, and it might make you think to quit one day.

As for those unknown who judge you in public places:

I know you may be feeling bad when people who don’t matter judge with words or make faces on smokers. You may be aware that those who do not smoke do not hold a great image of smoking.

It’s the smoke they disapprove, not you.

Also, most public places have gone smoke free. The truth is that not only are they to stay, but shall spread wider.

This is not to stigmatise smokers. Just as you have the right to smoke in your own private domain, others who do not smoke have the right to worry about their health and of the community at large.

So it isn’t to shun smokers, but to ensure a safe environment for non smokers.

POINT 2: Understand your own smoking habit:

Think of the reason why do you smoke? Probable answers would be:

  • “It helps me relax from the stress.”

Yes, many smokers believe so. But the truth is that smoking makes your heart beat fast, your breathing gets quicker and raises your blood pressure.

It is not the smoking that calms you.

You relax because
1. the cigarette stops the craving caused by nicotine addiction
2. The mere habit to reach and light a cigarette when tense make one feel better. ( a learned response)
3. Having a cigarette diverts the mind from worries.

It may calm you down for a while but the level of stress builds up over time and reduces the energy levels.

  • “It is my choice; I am hurting myself, not anyone.”

Well , your argument is valid only and only if you smoke in a bubble, where no one else exists and where it is not spilled over to the air shared by others.

POINT 3: Get some new facts about smoking:

We won’t  share the information here which all doctors say: “Smoking has 4000 harmful chemicals, and they cause lung cancer blah blah blah…. .”
I know we all know this by now.

The only thing that I would like you to know is when you smoke out, you dump these chemicals in the air which is shared by others too:
Acetone (paint stripper)/ Arsenic (poison element)/ Hydrogen Cyanide (poison of gas chambers)/ Naphthalene (in moth balls)/ Pesticides (insect killers)/ Carbon monoxide (car exhaust) etc. See more in the picture below.

And all these chemicals get inhaled by kids, women and men around you who do not smoke.

I am sure you know how dangerous second hand smoke is?

It causes some serious health issues in children like allergies, chest infections, poor attention span, hyperactivity and even increased chances of sudden death in the first year of life called SIDS.

In men and women who take in second hand smoke are 5 times more likely to die of lung cancer for no fault of theirs.

This is just not to make you feel guilty, get stressed and smoke more.  Please, don’t misunderstand.

This is just to let you know that you may not choose to quit smoking, you may at least make a choice not to smoke in your home or car where others especially children are present.

The smokers get certain other health problems too, which Respirologists don’t talk about.

Women smokers develop hormonal problems, find it 3 times more difficult to conceive and have an early menopause.

During pregnancy, whether it is a Mom smoker or a Dad smoker, the baby born is likely to be low birth weight, cranky and has very high chances to develop a serious lung disease. His chances of SIDS are 5 times high.

Men smokers have both poor quality and quantity of sperms . Smokers develop sexual dysfunction after 10-15 years of smoking,( e.g those who start to smoke in teenage, may face such problems in their thirties and forties). The chances of such problems increase with the number of cigarettes smoked per day.


POINT 4: Why is it that you don’t want to quit?

  • “I don’t feel like quitting.”

Well valid enough, your life, your choice. But please, just one tiny bit of suggestion:

‘Keep your mind open, it might just click to you one day that you want to quit.  After all if you’re not an angel that people expect you to become, you’re not a devil either.’

  • “I am too addicted?”

Correct. Smoking is very addictive and very hard to quit even to those who intend to quit. It is the nicotine not the cigarette that makes you hold on to it.

And for nicotine addiction there are several options in Nicotine Replacement Therapy: patch, gum, inhalers, and lozenges.

Just keep these options in mind, in case you ever decide to change your mind at a later date.

  • “I’ve been smoking for years.”

Fine it’s your choice. You want to do it probably because you know the benefits smoking gives to you-to relax and feel good.

How about having a look, just a look at what benefits would it gives you if you stopped smoking:
Day1: Your lungs work better, and you don’t feel out of breath
Day2: Your sense of taste and smell starts to return. You may cough up more mucus, but only to clear the lungs
A week after: Blood flow to your hand and feet will increase, and you won’t feel as cold
Within 6 months: Less of coughing, less of sinus congestion, less of shortness of breath will occur.
After an year: Your risk of dying from a heart attack will be reduced to half.
There are many many more benefits …

Well, I know after this you must be wondering: “The blog didn’t work. It did not trick you to change your mind.”

Well friends, this wasn’t at all meant to change your mind, though the blog would be very happy if you did.

But then know it’s not easy and the decision is entirely yours.

Remember one thing…all those who care for you, wished you would change your mind ONE DAY, and SOON.

Just keep your mind OPEN. You might just one fine day decide to say QUITS. Imagine !  🙂

But take your time.

Just relax, and feel there’s one place in this world which does not judge you even as a smoker.

And if you ever wish to quit….refer to the next blog >>>

“Smoker and want to kick off the habit?.”

*Warning: Smoking is injurious to health. *

Content courtesy: Canadian Cancer Society & Credit Valley Hospital Anti Smoking Unit.

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