The happy hour

Mahrukh Saleem Rajput

The country’s perpetual political situation and ceaseless economic instability has led to a surge in mental health problems in the last few decades. The prevalence of anxiety and depression has accelerated creating a bleak scenario; The society as whole seems to suffer. It is estimated mental disorders account for more than 4% of total disease burden and around 24 million people are in need of psychiatric assistance. Due to paucity of resources, on individual level it is essential to approach a lifestyle which aids to improve this perplex situation. One way can be exercising and physical activity which pragmatically effects mental health and wellbeing.

World Health Organization defines mental wellbeing as a state of individual’s ability to develop potential and work productively to positively contribute to the community. Staying active shouldn’t be considered as a task ‘ought to do’ or ‘to be forcefully’ doing, however it is essential to change our perspective towards it. It should be considered an indispensable requirement; the medicine of the mind. It is pivotal to understand that physical fitness shouldn’t only be restricted to gym, it can be anything ranging from playing a sport to even taking a walk. It should be an hour dedicated to you doing any leisure activity. Everyday chores such as climbing stairs or walking towards a bus can be considered physical activity. This time should be your ‘happy hour’. A Harvard study shows that running for 15 minutes can reduce depression by 26%. This all can add up to staying active for 150 minutes which is an average requirement for an adult. One must remember it is important to take care of your body as it’s the only place you have to live.

Research shows the direct proportionality of mental health with physical fitness. The mental health crisis which the country faces today creates appalling circumstances for a country that already struggles with a myriad of ailments. Statistics indicate that every fifth person in the country suffers from psychological disorders. Due to insufficiency and deficit of mental health care facilities as according to WHO data, Pakistan has only 0.19 psychiatrists per 100,000 inhabitants thus creating an alarming situation. One must also make efforts on an individual level. Physical fitness is known to reduce stress, anxiety and depression. Staying active releases endorphin hormone which are powerful chemicals in your brain that energize your spirits and make you feel good. Physical fitness develops stronger resilience and address adversity in face of emotional challenges in life help coping in a healthy way rather than resorting to negative behaviors.

In such tumultuous times it is imperative to take a step fundamentally by raising awareness towards mental health and establishing its significance. It is also critical to work towards the annihilation of the stigma around mental health uprooting in the society. As we heed importance to lifestyle related diseases such as diabetes and cancer, the prevalence of mental disorder is far greater than the aforementioned maladies. The alarming statistics must be a wakeup call for the nation to realize the gravity of the situation and act swiftly before this silent storm hits the nation with irrevocable circumstances.