World Mental Health Day is commemorated every year on October 10 by the World Health Organization since 1992 to raise alertness and to amass support from various sections of the society, to help out those dealing with various psychological conditions.
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According to the WHO, close to 1 billion people are living with a mental disorder, 3 million people die every year from the harmful use of alcohol and one person dies every 40 seconds by suicide. Additionally, the highly spreading coronavirus has brought about an abrupt and drastic alteration in the daily routine of people. Be it people losing work, or being stranded at rental apartments or boarding houses away from their loved ones, or fighting the virus on a daily basis as a healthcare provider or frontline worker, this pandemic has literally caused a psychological impact on people of different age groups. As the world tries to encounter and have a grip on the virus, emotional distress, anxiety, and fear, due to isolation, social distancing and restrictions have become widespread.
The limited access we had to quality and affordable health care facilities pre-pandemic have further been curtailed due to COVID-19 as this infection has disrupted health services throughout the world. The preliminary reason behind this being the risk of infection in long-stay facilities such as care homes and psychiatric institutions; restrictions to meeting family members or patients face-to-face; mental health staff or health care providers falling prey to the virus; the temporary closing of mental health institutions to convert them into care facilities for people with COVID-19.
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Hence, to cope with this issue and provide better facilities to people suffering from mental illness, WHO has announced the campaign and theme for World Mental Health Day 2021 as “Mental Health Care For All: Let's Make It A Reality" to encourage people around the world to come forth and redress this neglected health issue and help scale-up the investment in mental health to make mental health care and support accessible to everyone.
Well, in these times of growing uncertainties, psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists across the world report a rise in the awareness of mental health issues like anxiety, fear, stress and depression and mostly propose adopting preventive measures and non-medicated therapies to try before one attempt to seek help from medications.
Hastha Mudras, also known as Hand gestures is one such timeless technique and an integral part of yoga that helps one relax and unwind and bring our inner selves in a state of perpetual bliss. When the mudras are done in conjunction with breathing exercises, they actively help regulate and channel the flow of energy throughout the body to increase awareness, endurance, and relieve stress, anxiety, and depression.
Also Read: Yoga Mudras: Here’s Why Health Is In Your Own Hands, Literally!
This article curates a list of hand gestures that positively affect mental health, to help one cope with stress and panic attacks naturally and bring forth calmness and peacefulness.
Astonishing Hastha Mudras For Overall Mental Health And Wellness
Sit in the lotus pose. Fold and touch the tip of the index finger to the tip of the thumb keeping the other 3 fingers stretched, relaxed and joined. You can stay in the meditation pose while holding this gesture for as long as you want.
Commonly touted as the chin mudra, this gesture is the most common hatha yoga used in meditation, pranayama or asana that helps increase one’s concentration, knowledge and memory. Not only does it help lift negative energy but also creates a more receptive state, calms the mind, and connects one with their higher self.
Agni Shakti Mudra
Make a fist in front of your chest facing downwards. Now, just take out the thumbs and join the tips while all other fingers are folded. Hold this gesture for as long as you can.
Although it is extremely easy to create this gesture, agni shakthi mudra hold high significance in helping to grapple yourself on occasions of sudden temper aggravation, fear or anxious situations. It not only calms the mind but also helps one find peace and serenity. So, next time if you are tensed or anxious, instead of biting your nails, try calming down by performing the Agni shakti mudra.
Touch the tips of the index fingers and that of the thumbs of both hands to each other. Interlock the other three fingers and hold the gesture in front of the solar plexus or pit of the stomach in such a way such that the index fingers point towards the ceiling while the thumbs point downwards to the floor. Sit while holding this posture for 5-10 minutes.
Uttarabodhi mudra, also known as the hand gesture for enlightenment is an extremely beneficial way to calm a troubled mind and soothe the nerves. It holds high significance in removing fear, improving self-confidence and enhancing focus, concentration, problem-solving and decision-making skills.
Slowly bend the index finger and join them face-to-face at the first joints, touch the tips of middle fingers and the tips of the thumbs of both the hands to each other. Now, bend the remaining two fingers inwards. Hold this gesture in such a way that the thumbs point towards the chest and both the elbows are stretched outwards. Now slowly inhale and exhale while lengthening the pause between the two. Repeat this 5-6 times.
The “Kalesvara Mudra” is made of two words where ‘kala’ means ‘time’ and ‘esvara’ signifies ‘god or higher power’. Hence, this hand gesture is dedicated to the ‘God Of Time’ and practising this effectively on a regular basis bring down feelings of nervousness, fear and anxiety and calms down the agitated mind.
Apan Vayu Mudra
To form this mudra, lightly press the tip of the index finger against the base of the thumb. Now, slowly bend the middle and ring finger to touch the inner tip of the thumb while extending the pinky or little finger outwards. This mudra is created simultaneously but seperately in both hands. Hold this gesture for 1-2 minutes, relax and repeat.
Benefits:The Apan Vayu Mudra, commonly referred to as Mritsanjeevani mudra, is an extremely powerful mudra that helps decrease anxiety brought upon by an imbalance due to Vata doshas within the body. In the ancient times, this mudra was also believed to prevent and treat cardiac anomalies and regulate various hormonal imbalances to enhance overall health and foster the mind-body connection.
Be seated in a comfortable position either inside the house or outdoors in a quiet well-ventilated area. Place both palms on the knees facing upwards. Join the thumb, little finger and ring finger, keeping the other two fingers stretched fully and hold this stance for 3 – 5 minutes. Focus on the flow of energy to the hands as well as the rest of the body, while breathing slowly and deeply, then let go of the pose and relax.
Prana Mudra is touted for its amazing potential in stimulating positive vibrations within the body and the mind. By improving blood circulation to all parts of the system, it effectively detoxifies the body and cleanses the bloodstream of impurities. This works wonders in clearing the mind of negative thoughts and emotions such as nervousness, irritability, impatience and even alleviates insomnia and other sleep disorders for undisturbed rest at night.
Sit down on a flat even surface in any position as per convenience, ensuring that the surroundings have ample flow of air. Keep both the palms on the knees with the inside portion facing up. Pay attention to the breathing patterns and slowly fold both hands into a loosely clenched fist. Then release the thumb and index finger a bit to form a circle. Hold this pose for 5 minutes while inhaling and exhaling in a gradual, deep manner, then free the hands and body and unwind.
Chinmaya mudra vastly enhances the body-mind balance and pacifies agitated nerves. It significantly elevates a sense of awareness of the self and helps establish a healthy connection with the outer environment. This mudra considerably relieves stress, anxiety, tension, boosts self-confidence and brings about a relaxed mental state. Moreover, practising chinmaya mudra regularly helps bolster memory and concentration for uplifted intelligence and brain power.