The value of an idea lies in the using of it.

A Great Counselling Session is transformative!

‘There are no coincidences, only divine appointments!’ At Sage Advice, we witness this comes true so often when a great counselling session has a life-altering impact on someone’s life.

As the pandemic continues to linger, reluctantly but surely, many interactions, consultation work, therapy and counselling have moved online. These models are thriving and benefitting people, especially those whose geographic location was a great impediment when it came to gaining access to experts.

There is always a hesitancy when one approaches a counselling service for the first time. But a good counsellor will work her magic right in the first session and allay all doubts.

She will be an empathetic listener who puts the one seeking a solution at ease immediately and swiftly work her way to the core issue.

This is exactly the reason we feel that our capable experts help seekers experience a truly transformative first counselling session, often.

The inner turmoil, a disturbed mind, an introverted nature, an embarrassing and difficult discussion, all can make initial progress slow. But our experts are always prepared for these situations and can put those tense nerves at ease in the very first session of counsel that you seek.

A satisfying counselling session is one that makes headway into the right direction and the one taking counselling also needs to be as authentic as they can to derive great benefit.

A great counselling session thrives on transparency and a strong rapport between the two, the counsellor and the counselee.

Remain patient and regular with the wonderful work and reap rich rewards for being courageous. We, at Sage Advice say kudos to that earnest desire for self-improvement and are always there to propel you on a path of personal growth!

Mindful Living ~ Advice for Wellness

We live in an era of superfoods; with exercise regimens, people are achieving supreme fitness levels. Great hacks for physical fitness are just a scroll, swipe and a click away on our smartphones. What is harder to come by is advice for wellness, which is truly an inside out phenomena. True wellness is achieved when the mind is unruffled and calm.

Great sportspersons report that ‘peak performance’ is only achieved in a state of perfect inner stillness. So, the body strives towards great shape, food choices are right, lifestyle changes are in accordance and the skin begins to glow when the inside achieves harmony and balance.

Welcome to the wonderful world of mindful living, a much-needed sense of direction in today’s chaotic COVID-hurting world.

Mindful living makes for good wellness advice because we begin to slow down and start to take notice of the tiniest things in our lives.

Our actions are graceful when they are mindful. We begin to question consequences before reacting to situations and thus create a deliberate space before responding. This tiny moment of pause helps us respond with awareness.

Take time to watch the sky, trees and the blossoming flowers every time you feel a rush of adrenaline surge.

Return to the breath…deep breathe for a few seconds each time temper or you feel an urge to give a rash response in a tense situation.

Any act can be a mindfulness exercise be it doing laundry, walk to work, a hobby…they all can help you connect with your true inner self and lead you to a sense of wellbeing.

All mindfully done, fulfilling acts that give joy and a peaceful feeling are markers for true wellness and automatically become advice for wellness.

Tend to the mind as much as you count the calories and care for the body. As you carefully choose each morsel, so should you pay heed to the thoughts, words, opinions, news and information you consume.

A conscious shift to peaceful choices is the best advice for wellbeing and inner wellbeing will impact the outer.

Online Relationship Therapy~ to seek or not to seek

As uncertainty regarding an impending third wave of COVID-19 looms large over our heads like dark monsoon clouds, we are all trying to claim our lives back. Careers, social-connect, vacations and travel, we are all aching to roll back to normalcy. Experts are assuring us, history is providing evidence that the end of the nightmare is near. And this very thing is testing our patience.


 If you also feel you have also been stretched to the limit and the strain of the past year and half has left you fatigued and exhausted, you are not alone. Our relationships have certainly borne the brunt of this pandemic.


Here is a quick checklist for you to assess whether you need a therapist, a counsellor or just a sensible sounding board to talk to and share concerns. Just before we offer this list, let us remind you that online relationship therapy is a very safe, confidential and constructive way to find solutions and resolve conflicting situations.


Empathy levels have dropped and you and your loved ones show little patience when communicating with each other.

You are grieving the loss pf a loved one and your partner is indifferent and does not acknowledge your pain.

Shared responsibility sentiment has been replaced by a blame game, whether it is finances, household chores, managing time or whatever.

Avoidance and a strong urge to escape is getting stronger. You just want to drop it all and either close up or get away from home.

Insecurities and lack of trust has taken seed and a shadow of doubt constantly walks with you. You have a constant feeling that you are being cheated.

A complete communication breakdown- you just can’t get across to each other and the message is lost in angry outbursts.

An urge to be violent is getting stronger and either of you has regular emotional outbursts and meltdowns.

You want to pick up the phone and share it with a dear friend, parent, sibling or a confidant. It is beyond you to handle it now.

If any of the above escalating situations prevail, you definitely need help from an experienced counsellor and an online relationship therapy session is the answer.

Remember, relationships are precious and we invest a lifetime in building them, it needs another lifetime of mutual love and support to keep them going.

Covid fatigue impacting the young - confessions of a student therapist

Counsellors at SageAdvice have been closely observing the rising stress levels among teenagers. They have been reaching out to educational institutions with strong warnings. Here are some of the key areas that are resulting in increased anxiety and uncertainty among students.

Research indicates online classes with prolonged screen time have depleted their ability to concentrate, absorb concepts, and retain the taught material, leading to an erosion of confidence and self-belief.

An uptick in google search for a student therapist is a clear indicator that they are reaching out for help.

Top universities have discovered that their student population is fast emerging as the most vulnerable population group prone to depression, substance abuse and insecure thoughts.

Sleep disorders and entertaining doomsday thoughts is on a clear increase.

 As expert student therapists, our team is reaching out to parents and teacher groups as they are the first ‘go to’ persons for any child battling these challenges.

Mental health hotlines in the US have seen at least a 1000% increase in traffic and technological challenges of online education is just one of their worries.

Uncertainty regarding the future, postponed and rescheduled exams, lack of peer interaction, mounting parental pressures are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to compiling a list of the problems students report.

As the world continues to make sense of the pandemic and anticipates the end with bated breath, the fear of an impending third wave looms large over India.

Students are being herded back to school and they remain unvaccinated and the most vulnerable group. They are also sensing dark clouds of worry and feel insecure about re-adjustment into the routine that puts several demands on their unexercised bodies and minds. Are we listening and paying attention to their calls for help as in the wee hours of the night, deep in the throes of insomnia, our children are searching for a ‘student therapist’ on their mobile phones?  

The need of the hour: Mental Health Awareness

In today’s world almost half of the population including children, adults and senior citizens suffer from some or the other mental health issue. Your neighbor, a friend, a family member may be one of the many who struggle with mental illness every day. Mental health refers to our psychological, social and emotional wellbeing and the mental health statistics for India have worsened specifically during the 2020 pandemic. 

A recent event of the death of the renowned actor Sushant Singh Rajput brought the topic of mental health in the spotlight which was much talked about in the media. A celebrity death did help people become more aware of mental illnesses and how to deal with them. Social media was flooded with articles, podcasts and mental health programs for a while after the incident took place. People started recognizing what labels they should give to the loss of interest or feelings of loneliness, finally. There was also a surge in the clientele of SageAdvice after the lockdown began and the death of Sushant Singh Rajput took place. 

A multitude of people around us struggle with mental illness every day so why is it that we have to wait for something so devastating to happen to bring light to such an important issue?

We should spread awareness but not only after an incident takes place. We should raise awareness of mental health issues around the world from the very beginning to mobilize efforts in support of mental health. The need of the hour is to continuously share as much as we can so that we can impart our knowledge to others and they can in turn educate the ones around them. Spreading awareness will also contribute to removing the underlying stigmas attached to mental health.

Normalization of talking about the unknown and getting treated for mental illness is necessary because mental health issues aren’t menial. They are disorders that need to be treated and can only be cured by seeking help. Counselling conversations make it easy for people to gain insights and reflect upon their doings so they can improve their quality of life by coping with stress and anxiety associated with mental illnesses.

One should always seek help while suffering from any mental health issue. We, at SageAdvice, provide a platform for professional counselling for the ones in need. Head to the website today and book a counselling session with us for a better life! 

Why do you need couples counselling?

A couple is a dyadic relationship that is shared by two individuals who are either married, cohabiting or dating. The recent surge in conflicts faced by couples has increased due to extended lockdowns worldwide during the covid-19 pandemic. Lockdown has pushed the limits of many but Indian marriages or relationships have seen a big hit in the fragility of their bond. Spaces and roles shared by couples have redefined during the times making it tough to get personal space. The very needed “me time” which each individual counts on to stay connected to themselves has now collapsed. 

Increasing relationship conflicts requires efforts to make amends. Scheduling a counselling session with your couples counsellor can be the first step forward in trying to save your sinking ship. Couples psychotherapy is a popularly used form of psychotherapy that helps in improving relationships in the following ways:

  • Improving intimacy among the couple so they feel more connected with each other
  • Couples psychotherapist works towards enhancing communication skills and help both partners express the concerns they have with their partner so hurtful conversations can be avoided
  • If one partner is going through a tough time dealing with mental illness then a couples psychotherapist can also help them in stress management through counselling. 
  • Developing self-awareness and recognizing patterns during conflicts is another area that the counsellor works on
  • Strengthening the bond between couples is the constant goal during the sessions 

Therapy/counselling is a lifesaver for anyone and everyone. You don’t need to be stuck deep into your conflicts to consider therapy. Chat with a therapist that fits well with your demands at SageAdvice and get started today. We, at Sage Advice, provide professional counselling for the well being of all. If you need a counselling session, head to the website and connect with Sage Advice for a better life!

Is family therapy beneficial?

We are now living in a technologically advanced and work-oriented society. We see more diverse households now than before. Families now comprise of single parents, same-sex parents and whatnot! We are evolving and adapting to better ways of living but one’s family structure and environment are of utmost importance to them. Children’s behavior and personality are shaped according to their primary caregiver’s behaviors towards them and in most situations these primary caregivers are parents. As the child grows, many conflicts regarding trivial events can arise among parents and their children which can manifest as problematic behavior in adulthood or the conflicts a person faces in adulthood can be due to disruptive family structure. 

In cases like these, family therapy becomes a necessary step forward to deal with past and present conflicts and reflect upon those for a better future. Human beings are social creatures and their behaviors are affected by the people they interact with. In this social structure, family is a big part of a person’s inner circle and when abnormal behavior or thoughts are observed, modifications in the family structure can help deal with obstacles better. 

Family therapy can be beneficial in the following ways:

  • Family therapy can help improve communication and conflicts. It also promotes assertive ways of communicating with family members to avoid misunderstanding. Individual counselling is not able to cater to the demands of family members when lack of communication is the subject matter hence family therapy is more beneficial in establishing emotional ties within the family. 
  • If a member of the family is going through a serious mental illness then the psychologist providing family therapy can help others cope with the sensitive situation too because in a family if one suffers, all suffer.
  • The boundaries of different roles are blurred in the present times because both men and women are taking up an equal share of work as much as possible which can create conflicts in families as the definitions of certain roles which have been followed through centuries have changed now. Family therapy can help define the equal boundaries for the members
  • Improving coping mechanisms by skill training for a family so they can function as a unit during a crisis is another benefit of family therapy.
  • Dysfunctional relationships are also addressed during family therapy and the work is focused upon the harmonious coexistence of different relationships within families. 

Family therapy is provided by trained psychologists and SageAdvice is a counselling platform that brings the best family therapists near you! Family therapy is provided for depression, anxiety, stress, dysfunctional relationships and other mental illnesses at SageAdvice so if you are the one who thinks they can benefit from a family therapy, sign up for a session with us now. 

Strategies for success in online classes

The pandemic has brought with itself a lot of alterations in how people carry their day to day lives. One of the major changes has come in the sector of education. The traditional way of teaching has completely shifted to online mode. It is a misconception that online classes are easy because while the amount of concentration required to understand a topic has remained the same, the sources of distraction have risen significantly. While some students have adapted to the new lifestyle pretty fast, many are facing several issues. For the ones facing difficulty in adapting to the new normal, counsellors advice to seek professional help and follow some simple strategies to reduce everyday burden. 

Here are a few strategies suggested by our counsellors to reduce stress for students and cope well with Online Learning.

  1. Improve your waking up schedule- Majority of the students take their online classes very lightly and wake up just a few minutes before the class, or sometimes even later. This needs to be improved as the level of concentration whilst sitting with a fresh mind is way higher than sitting with a sleepy mind. Students should try waking up at least an hour before their classes start.
  2. Organize and Prepare- Having a clean workspace is extremely important as messy surroundings will probably make you not want to concentrate. Also, prepare for your lectures beforehand with all the required study materials and books.
  3. Connections- If you’re not physically present at a place, that does not mean you also stay away from your peers and colleagues. Humans are a social animal and it is extremely important to stay connected, more so during these times when physical interaction is negligible, so actively participate in class discussions, introduce yourself to people after the class hours and make new bonds if it’s a new academic session for you with unfamiliar people.
  4. Perspective- It is extremely important to have an open mind to discussions, try to understand concepts from different perspectives and ask questions without hesitating until the doubt is cleared.
  5. Accountability- Sitting at home, you’re the only one who can check yourself and make sure that you remain true to yourself in completion and submission of your work on time and without using any wrong methods. If you find yourself failing at anything, try pairing up with a peer and do your work with mutual help.

SageAdvice is a team of experienced mental health professionals who offer counselling services to students facing distress during the time of a pandemic and seek help from counselors. 

Students perspective on covid anxiety

Anxiety is your body's natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what's to come. Anxiety is characterised by feelings of worry or fear that are strong enough to interfere with one's daily activities. 

Today’s life has become extremely strenuous and fast-paced especially for students. They often get caught up in this rat race. To delve into the causes of anxiety in students, we conducted research to gain insight into the perspective of students. Let’s discover the causes of anxiety in students as they have self-reported.

What do you feel about the disrupted school routines?

Disrupted school routines interrupt the stream and affect our concentration. Student’s mentioned that they feel like they have been undermining their mental health. Everyday digital learning has messed up the sleep schedules for mostly everyone causing a loss of concentration and fatigue. Imbalance equilibrium is the major complaint of many students today.

In what ways does exam uncertainty affect you?

Student’s have been feeling nervous and unable to enjoy other daily activities, especially the ones who are hoping to appear for their boards this year. There’s constant uncertainty about whether or not the exams will take place or if they should start planning their study material. The pressure faced further affects concentration. Irregular study patterns, restlessness, disinterest and low concentration is reported by 90% of the student’s interviewed during this study.


How do you cope with the uncertainty and stress?

Music, dance and cooking are reported by 75% of our participants as a leisure activity they turn to at times of stress. Others have reported engaging in physical exercise to eradicate stress. Taking constant breaks from triggering situations has also worked for many to maintain their sanity.


What major areas of conflicts have you observed with your parents?

Disagreements on daily habits like screen time, sleeping schedule, eating habits and so on are commonly seen in the majority of households. Not being able to live up to the parent’s expectations and not achieving high academic grades in the past is also a hotly debated topic when conflicts between students and parents are to be considered. Now that parents and children are home together, the time to discuss and point mistakes out has lowered the tolerance level of children as well as parents leading to more conflicts than usual. 

How has the pandemic affected your physical proximity with friends?

Student’s say that it causes insufferable loneliness as they miss having a good talk with their friends and without having them around, their emotions get bottled up. It is difficult for many to share their emotional vulnerabilities with their parents and at a time like this being away from their friends coupled with not being able to share with their parents can make them feel lonely. Restrictions on communication also cause misunderstandings in relationships which has been a case with some students. Maintaining long-distance friendships are tough and it requires constant efforts from both sides at least till the time we can go back to our pre-covid normal. 

Seeking help is a must when things start to get out of hand. We, at Sage Advice, provide professional counselling for the well being of all. If you need a counselling session, head to the website and connect with Sage Advice for a better life!

When to seek help from a mental health professional?

We have seen people wrongly spreading the notion of not seeking help from a professional until you are not at the rock bottom of your problem. Most people abide by this philosophy of “only seek help when you absolutely require it”. When such misconceptions are being spread, how can one make an informed decision? 

Let us tell you a basic rule of thumb- if any issue you are facing is interfering with your personal relationships, professional life and social circle then it’s time for you to start looking for professionals. 

Sometimes the signs to seek therapy are obvious but sometimes you just don’t pay attention to minor difficulties due to busy routine lives until it gets interfering. You may look for the following 5 signs to make it easier for you to decide if you need professional help or not: 

  • Feeling sad, blue or irritated most of the time: Is it that you spend most of your day feeling sad and not enjoying the activities you use to enjoy? Feeling sad and disinterested for a prolonged period can be a symptom of depression which you should get diagnosed by a professional before it harms your daily life. 
  • If you have recently experienced trauma: trauma can be an alarming sign and it needs to be fully dealt with so it doesn’t haunt you with flashbacks and chills later. Traumatic experiences like abuse, accidents, chronic illness, etc can very easily turn to post-traumatic stress disorder if healthy ways of coping aren’t developed. 
  • Substance or alcohol abuse: if alcohol or substance of any kind gives you pleasure when you feel low, you might be addicted to it and such addictions require treatment before it starts to damage your physiological system permanently. 
  • Conflicting relationships or marriage: It often happens that our views do not match with our family members or partners which can create a constantly stressful environment around you leading to daily arguments, toxicity and fights. When things get out of hand, couple or family therapy can come in handy so everyone gets a safe space to share how they feel and family members can work with each other with the help of the therapist to improve the dynamics of the family. 

How can therapy help?

Therapy or counselling is not just for people struggling with serious mental illness but it is for everyone who faces issues ranging from workplace stress to emotional instability to psychosis. Therapy helps individuals manage their symptoms better than medication alone would as investigated by researchers. Skills that are generally learned during therapy sessions are more effective in future and therefore symptoms can be managed using them. 

Therapy takes time to show effective changes, it’s not based on an instant symptoms relief approach. If you decide to go in for counseling or therapy, you have to be patient and do the work to see visible results. 

What part can you play in helping someone seek a professional? 

Telling someone you need to go see a therapist can be stigmatizing and you might end up offending them instead a rather healthy way is to listen to their problems and offer to help find resources for them if they need any. As a well-wisher, you can sit with your loved one and research which mental health professional, whether it’s a psychologist, psychiatrist, life coach, career counselor or counselor, can be of help considering the current stressors of the concerned individual.  

Difference between mental health professionals: Choose yours wisely

Our life is full of vicissitudes. In difficult times, it may sometimes happen that our mental health issues can get the better of us. When our mental health starts conflicting with our personal and professional life, it’s time to seek help.

There’s a wide variety of mental health professionals that are working hard to help us get through the tough times. Out of a large pool of fishes, it certainly can be tough to find a suitable fit for our needs. We curated a well-researched description of professionals for you to figure what you need and whom you should approach for such needs. Let us walk you one by one through different mental health professionals and their qualifications and you choose what fits you! 

  • Physiatrists are trained medical doctors who are eligible to prescribe medicines for severe cases. Usually, an individual seeks help from a psychiatrist when their behavioral, affective and cognitive symptoms are not being controlled through counselling or psychotherapy. 
  • A psychologist is a mental health professional that has a master’s degree in psychology and a license is necessary for them to practice as clinical psychologists. A psychologist doesn’t have the authority to prescribe medicines and their main work revolves around counselling as well as psychotherapy. In many cases, a psychologist and physiatrist often work together for the well- being of the patient. 
  • Life coaches are more focused upon the problems in the present so they can be modified and worked upon. Life coaches do not diagnose, while psychologists determine illnesses so their patients can be clinically treated. In simple words, psychologists focus on “why” certain behavioral patterns occur, and coaches work on “how” to work toward a goal. Life coaching has a futuristic nature to the field and it works towards outcomes.
  • A counselor is a professional who is majorly focused upon less pathological problems like marital issues, work-life stress, absenteeism, etc. The distinction between a counsellor and a clinical psychologist are blurry because they largely work with a similar population in similar settings. 
  • A career counselor is a person who is trained to guide people with their career choice. A career counselor can help the person in the best way possible when it comes to which field has what to offer and what aptitude underlies an individual. Everyone whether they are new to the working world or are looking for a new occupation can benefit their career growth with the help of the right career counselor.

Seeking help is a must when things get out of hand. Gaining knowledge about the various mental health professionals will in turn help us in seeking the help we require. We, at SageAdvice, have a committed team of mental health professionals who are working for your betterment. If you are in need of one, head to our website and choose your mental health professional wisely! 

ASK SAGEADVICE 11- Dealing with rejection

As grown-ups, we all have faced rejection in our lives whether it be from a lover, a friend or a job. The bottom line though for all types of rejection stays the same- it hurts! Rejections leave you wondering if you are good enough for the person or opportunity. Self-doubt creeps in and takes a toll on your self-esteem. If we let rejections hold us back then it can have long term negative and debilitating effects on our mental health. 

A similar dilemma was faced by one of our Ask SageAdvice participants in a query- “I am Tanu, 27 and working. I am attracted to my colleague. He approached me with a live-in proposal after we had been in a serious relationship for a few months. Due to the pandemic and lockdown, I had to return to my parents’ house as I lost the job. He was supportive throughout with phone calls and chats. But suddenly his attitude has changed and he says it’s over. I can’t get over the shock and it feels like rejection. 

What can I do?”

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Tanu surely sounds distressed and the correct way to first approach the situation is to understand what led the person to discontinue the relationship when he was ready to move in together a while back. Communicating with the partner about possible reasons can give her the closure she needs and can move forward towards the healing process. An emotional catharsis, cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance-commitment therapy come in handy is handy to benefit her here if she decided to seek professional help.  

Our panel counsellors believe there are ways you can deal better with rejection and come out stronger. Rejections don’t mean the end of all. And we have listed a few points that are suggested by our mental health team to help you overcome rejection without putting yourself down: 

  • Do not form any assumptions about your worth based on the rejection. Someone rejecting you doesn’t say anything about you except the fact that the two are not compatible together which is definitely a rational argument. Think about it, are you always compatible with who you meet? 
  • Process your emotions and take as much time as you want to do so. A good exercise to make associations between your emotions and cognitions is that you first randomly write all the emotions you are feeling down and repeat this with the thoughts that are coming to your mind. Match the emotions with the thoughts to make things clearer for you.
  • Spend time with the people you love to feel wanted and appreciated. Rejection can make us feel like we are not worth the happiness but the company of our loved ones can always be a mood booster. 
  • Be kind to yourself and do whatever you would enjoy moving forward. Don’t let rejections hold you back and affect your future. Every successful person has faced rejections throughout their life that's what counts as experience and wisdom later. 
  • Finally, maintain a healthy lifestyle and stick to healthy habits. Not getting enough sleep, eating junk, spiraling thoughts can all make you vulnerable to a slower recovery and mental health disorders. Do a healthy routine for yourself!

If you find these tips helpful or have any further queries you can reach out to SageAdvice. Feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life.

ASK SAGEADVICE 10- Relationships and its baggage

Romantic relationships are known to have their ups and downs. Every person who enters a relationship has some baggage of their own from the past and in fact, breaking off a relationship also leaves the two individuals with complicated baggage. With each kind of past comes its own emotions and with each emotion, we have different reactions. 

Ask SageAdvice series received another interesting question centered around relationships- “My boyfriend and I broke up in 2019 and did not stay in contact through the pandemic and lockdown. But recently I learnt that he is in a relationship with my close friend. I am happy for both of them but can’t seem to get over the fact that a third person told me about this! Neither of them had the guts to tell me that they are together. I don’t feel much for the guy but I am unable to forgive my close friend for not telling me...what should I do, I don’t want to lose her? I am feeling negative and jealous...and then I regret...too much confusion in my mind”

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Our expert panel counsellors had great inputs to give on this issue. They believe such feelings crawl in when we believe some people are entitled to us. Entitled to share their stories with us, pains and gains with us. The way we can limit this entitlement is by being empathetic towards their situation and truly trying to understand why they did what they did. This is important if we want to feel easy on our minds otherwise this sense of someone owning something to us can be toxic and limiting. Also, we can give the good old technique of constructive communication here so the troubled can share her feelings with her friend in a cathartic way and if they share a good bond, she surely will understand. It is important to understand and explore the reason why they hid their relationship status from her and work things around the explanations that they provide.

Coming to know about the close ones from the third person can be hurtful but our expert counsellor would like to point out that scenarios like these call for making the client explore all the possibilities about why the close friend had to hide or not tell. Making the client explore and understand how she would react if she was told would help her understand the reasoning about why she wasn't told. 

Furthermore, the possibility of our client being jealous also has to be explored. Jealousy is a strong emotion and can drive a person towards unhealthy thoughts and behaviors. Counsellors in such cases would first like to understand how the client is coping with this emotion if it is present and how it is impacting her thoughts, emotions and actions. Insights on the same can be developed during counselling sessions.  

We many times believe that certain people are answerable to us and we never know when this expectation might turn into a demand. Demanding things from others or making them feel entitled is not our place and entitlement brings imbalance in relationships and contributes to negative feelings which once piled up are far from easy resolution.

If you find these tips helpful or have any further queries you can reach out to SageAdvice. Feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life.

ASK SAGEADVICE 9- Smoking kills, remember?

Smoking has become an important part of the relaxation culture in the youth especially in the corporate sector. Ever heard your boss and colleagues say “I need a smoke break”? Yes, that's the relaxation culture we are referring to here. Smoking is very strongly associated with much needful between work breaks. Due to the increasing smoking culture and many other factors like genetic predisposition, social pressure, etc, the number of cigarette smokers has increased since the previous decade.  

Smoking is a pleasurable act, as they say, of breathing in tobacco in the form of smoke which then mixes with your bloodstream, eventually which can be fatal for us. Smoking has more cons than pros but the pleasure factor is so strongly linked with smoking that people tend to be careless about the cons like different types of cancer, risk of diabetes, bones being brittle, premature ageing, risk of heart diseases, reduced stamina with many more hazardous effects associated with smoking. 

During our Ask SageAdvice series, we received a question from a concerned girlfriend saying- My boyfriend smokes even though I have repeatedly told him to quit. He is not giving it up and I can’t stand the smell of cigarettes on his breath and clothes. It is destroying our relationship, please help. 

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Every smoker is aware of the consequences of smoking but quitting still is not easy for them. They may face withdrawal symptoms and even psychological symptoms like depression and anxiety. Veera Pitale, our expert panel counsellor agrees with us here and says it’s difficult to immediately quit therefore it is important to take the quitting process ahead slowly and steadily. 

Smokers who are really trying to quit can use the following few tips to see if it works for them: 

  • Removing the triggers: Nicotine is present in our body for about 3 days after which any craving that one feels is psychological and not physical. To avoid any enticing situations that can lure you into smoking, it is important for you to recognize the events, people and thoughts that end up with a cigarette in your hand for relaxation so you can consciously avoid them. 
  • Keep your body moving: Smoking may reduce your stamina but the moment you quit, your body starts to heal which makes it even more important for you to push yourself into some exercise every day to see the progress your body is making. 
  • Drink water regularly: Many people smoke due to oral fixations therefore they need oral activities to keep their mouth stimulations active. Drinking water and even intuitive eating in short intervals can put the cravings aside. 
  • Find your way out with distractions: When cravings arise, you can accept them and try to indulge in other activities so they don’t overpower you. 
  • Chewing gum: There are many quit smoking gums available to satisfy you orally and keep you away from withdrawal symptoms. You can always give one a try and see if it’s working for you. Though not a long term solution but it’s good to start from somewhere right? 

A person who is trying to quit any type of dependency needs a lot of support, patience and love from his family and friends so they know they have people they can rely on and trust during the process. 

If you find these tips helpful or have any further queries you can reach out to SageAdvice. Feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life.

ASK SAGEADVICE 8- Can your work come between your relationships?

Do you often have problems in your relationships due to excessive work? Is the statement “you are too busy with your work to give us time”, relatable to you? 

Striking the perfect work-life balance is a challenging yet important component for maintaining good mental health. Working adults often tend to overburden themselves with work to be financially stable. 

We received a query during our Ask SageAdvice campaign stating- I am a 31-year-old businessman married to a professional woman who left her career in Canada to come and settle in India. We married two years ago and now she feels I am too busy with business (she works with me) and says I don’t have a work-life balance. She has gone back and is now asking for a divorce. I don’t want to end this marriage and I believe she too would prefer if things worked out between us. What should I do? (Visit our podcast at

Nilfuer Mistry, our expert panel counsellor believes that life should be balanced. While it’s the general trend for most businessmen to be workaholics, it becomes an integral part of them and they might end up paying less attention to their family or take the family for granted.

Nilfuer suggested that the intensity of complications between the couple should be first understood in the current case so it can be figured out the areas that need to be untangled. We need to understand the reasons why his wife wants a divorce and if any other factors are leading to her decision like if she feels neglected and how, is she career-wise satisfied or not, etc.

A counsellor who is dealing with similar issues initially needs to probe to identify if there have been other differences so major concerns can be addressed before we can start counselling. Couple counselling can come in handy to deal with this and similar cases to understand the needs and thoughts of both individuals. 

Apart from considering counselling Nupur Gawankar, another expert counsellor at SageAdvice suggested that the couple can have intimate discussions where the focus is on talking particularly about their emotions regarding each other, the marriage and their working equation. A mutual agreement regarding how they can make time for each other can be worked out. One way to do so can be deciding on exclusive routine things to do together like cooking, playing games, gardening, etc.

You can reach out to SageAdvice if you have any further questions or queries to be addressed related to mental health and wellbeing, feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life.

ASK SAGEADVICE 7- Doubts in a relationships

People in romantic relationships usually trust each other and the sanctity of their relationship but in the presence of unusual behavior, doubts can arise irrespective of how long you have known your partner. Having doubts when away from normal behavior is observed is characteristic of human nature as we all tend to follow the hedonistic principle and protect ourselves from pain. 

Within similar interest, SageAdvice received a query from a 31-year-old married man who says that he has been married for 4 years and has a two-year-old daughter. According to him, everything is going great but he constantly finds himself doubting his wife for being unfaithful to him. His back story indicates that his parents got divorced due to unfaithfulness when he was 19 and now his relationships are also being affected. He sought help from SageAdvice counsellors. 

Ruchika Jain, our expert panel counsellor took his query up and suggested that his insights about whether his doubts stem from his childhood or present events should be explored as well as the need for counselling was clear to her in his scenario. The fact that he is having doubts about his marriage and he also expressed his family history during the query itself indicates how unresolved childhood issues are present which needs attention. (Visit our podcast at

Another suggestion by the counsellor was that he should look for evidence that proves to him the unfaithfulness of his wife. Healthy communication with complete transparency also proves to be helpful during a couple's conflict management. It might prove to be constructive if he can communicate his feelings to his wife so she also gets a chance to acknowledge his emotions and clear out any misunderstanding. 

Separation and divorce of parents can affect the child’s mental health and leave them with adjustment issues as well as doubts that can manifest towards their partners. The current case has unresolved issues from the past which makes it possible that his judgement can be clouded by previous experiences but we also cannot deny the present doubts he has without exploring the matter further. Rational emotive behavioral therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can work well as combination therapies to deal with irrational cognitions and cultivating more awareness in him to cope with the situation.

You can reach out to SageAdvice if you have any further questions or queries to be addressed related to mental health and wellbeing, feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life.

ASK SAGEADVICE 6- Inappropriate Physical Attraction

Everyone knows the feeling of butterflies in their stomach and their heart racing fast when they are around someone they are attracted to. You feel the attraction with one despite many being around. Romantic attraction is not always easy to figure out and can be one of the most complicated feelings you will ever have to sort. Sometimes the attraction can be a mere infatuation, other times liking and sometimes sexual attraction is what we seek. 

Romance has been in our culture for ages, yet is quite misunderstood and portrayed differently by different means. Romance and love are not always heterosexual but can be with anyone irrespective of their gender, preferences, life choices and status. 

SageAdvice received a query request from a 20-year-old girl who says that she is attracted to her married cousin- a 28-year-old woman with a child. She doesn’t know how to cope with this strong urge to be with her. (Visit our podcast at

Nilofer Mistry, our expert counsellor feels a 20-year-old girl should first figure out her sexuality, more importantly, accept it and deal with it. In the process, she should try to identify how genuine and authentic her attraction towards her married cousin is. 

Why getting attracted to the cousin is another topic to be discussed in this situation and to deal with it the root cause has to be identified which might have ties with few childhood experiences. Time and attention need to be given to deeper childhood experiences that might have been buried inside and are manifesting as an attraction to the same-sex cousin. Making sense of one's own sexual identity can be facilitated by a trained counsellor and engaging in sessions seems important for Nilofer at this stage.

It is important to understand personal preference and sexuality healthily and reaching out to a good counsellor is one of the best courses of action at the present moment.

SageAdvice recommends dealing with such issues needs a healthy perspective and great opinion about oneself which is possible with a counsellor who can offer good quality advice. Don’t hesitate in booking a session with Sage if you feel stuck in situations like these. We are here to help you with the most difficult knots in your life.

You can reach out to SageAdvice if you have any further questions to be addressed related to mental health and wellbeing, feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life.

ASK SAGEADVICE 5- Conflicts in family dynamics

Family is our primary social group that affects our emotions and attitudes the most. The first interaction we have is with our family members and living in a family is all about adjustment, patience, good communication, love and care for each other.

Different families have different dynamics, sometimes these dynamics go beyond our control especially in joint families. As the trend for nuclear families has taken over, living in joint families may seem intolerable for some whereas for others it's safe as well as comfortable. 

Mandeep asked SageAdvice expert counsellors that he wants to move out of the joint family set up but feels divided between an ailing grandmother he is attached to and constant conflict between his wife and his mother. He wants to know what to do? (You can also visit our podcast at

Nupur, SageAdvice expert counsellor took up the question and said that most of the time people talk in order to be heard rather than have an intention to listen. This leads to a rigid demand that they "must" be heard leading to a fixed mindset. In this case, there is less room for understanding other people's views and more fixation on their demand to be met. Nupur offered the following suggestions to Mandeep to handle his situation: 

  1. An open discussion with the whole family where the mother and Mandeep's wife can mention the issues that they are facing. This will help in getting to the roots of the problem thereby facilitating healthy discussion rather than outward blaming.
  2. Talking with "I feel.." statements will reiterate the focus on the emotions. It will help to connect better with others and build healthy relationships. 
  3. They can also do a cost-benefit analysis to understand the consequences of separating the household. The costs of the actions will help them realize why they shouldn't take this step while the benefits can help to determine if there are alternate ways of getting their needs met than going separate ways. 
  4. Seeking family therapy can also be useful to understand each family member's point of view and address the conflict better.

We hope these pointers will be helpful for Mandeep and everyone else facing similar problems. If you have any further questions to be addressed related to mental health and wellbeing, feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life.

ASK SAGEADVICE 4- Invalidation at workplace

Will I get a job after my studies? Will I have my current job in the next 6 months? When will I get promoted? Is my boss appreciative of my work? Don’t I deserve more according to the efforts I put in?

These are some out of the many questions we frequently ask ourselves when we are hunting for a job or are employed somewhere. We often also face uncertainty and invalidation in our jobs which can be psychologically taxing for us. Invalidation by definition is denying, rejecting or dismissing someone’s feelings and if you don't feel cared for at your workplace then it can very easily hamper your productivity.  

Another question in the Ask SageAdvice series was asked by Sahil. Sahil says “I was ignored for promotions for two years and now post-pandemic I am being offered a team-lead position but feel unsure. My confidence is at an all-time low. Kindly suggest what to do?” (You can also visit our podcast at

Our panel expert Priyanka Jain has answered this question and she says that he has been waiting for the promotion for 2 years which has possibly led to the feeling of invalidation/unappreciation at the workplace. Invalidation can have some serious negative impact on self-efficacy, confidence and create self-doubt and negative beliefs. Further, the pandemic has also triggered anxiety, stress, fear, frustration, boredom, uncertainty and instability in a job, safety concerns, threat and risk of contagion among people. These factors too can harm a person’s psychological well-being. 

Sahil’s experience with regards to the promotion can be considered natural and appropriate according to Priyanka Jain, but surely not a healthy response. 

To improve his confidence and resilience the following tips were recommended by SageAdvice experts which can help: 

  1. Identify and challenge the negative beliefs: Notice the thoughts about yourself, and then look for evidence that contradicts those statements. Become your lawyer. Write down both the thoughts and evidence to remind yourself that the negative beliefs are not true.
  2. Identify the positive about yourself: Write and reflect the positive characteristics as well as achievements such as being good in sports or compliments given by people. Looking back at these things when feeling low, reminds one of the good in them.
  3. Improve your physical health: You feel good about yourself when you are fit and healthy.
  4. Practice Mindfulness: Engage fully in whatever you are doing such as eating, walking, writing, watching, more mindfulness of the senses. 
  5. Take on challenges: It’ll help you to rebuild the trust and belief in self. 
  6. Positive Affirmations: Such as, ”I am worthy of having what I want, There are no blocks I cannot overcome, I make a difference by showing up every day and doing my best” can help cultivate positive emotions in a person. 

We hope these pointers will be helpful for Sahil and everyone else facing similar problems. If you have any further questions to be addressed related to mental health and wellbeing, feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life.

ASK SAGEADVICE 3- Is your boss flirting with you like Miss A's?

Is your workplace a safe place to be at? Is your boss attracted to you? Do you feel any employee is crossing their boundaries with you? Do you feel comfortable in your workplace?

Often it happens at a workplace that you may feel your intuition screaming of someone being attracted to you or flirting with you, either appropriately or inappropriately. The dynamics of attraction, infatuation, love are quite complex and confusing at a workplace. 

Miss. A reached out to SageAdvice with a similar workplace issue asking advice related to her boss who probably flirts on the pretext of appreciating her work. She is not able to handle it and is unsure of what to do?

How can we help her?

Our panel counsellors came to rescue Miss A’s problem and a couple of views came forward (You can also visit our podcast at Swapnil Maurya, an expert panel counsellor, says it is important for A to protect her role and she can try letting her boss down so he has no excuse for flirting with her. He further says that romantic relationships at work, especially getting involved with a boss can jeopardise her position and may invite gossip for fellow employees. As the gossip fills the office rooms, she might as well be forced to file a complaint against her boss which can lead to her resigning. A possible way out of this according to Swapnil is to set a meeting to talk to her boss about her feelings and how uncomfortable she feels around him in a subtle respectful way as there can also be a possibility of misunderstanding his behavior to flirting therefore a polite, mature and sensible conversation can be the best way out according to Swapnil while Miss A also gets to maintain her dignity. 

Dr. Preeti Prabha also shares her suggestion regarding Miss A’s problem mentioning we often hear stories of female employees facing difficult situations at work. Usually what we see is that no one ever questions the boss but a lot of fingers are raised questioning the female employees’ character. You might have heard remarks like she must have provoked him, she must have done something to encourage that behavior, look at the length of her clothes, she seeks male attention, she is flirting with the boss for a promotion, etc. Such negativity from your workplace ends up stressing you more and shows up in your work as your productivity decreases. It is important to identify and organize your thoughts before you take an action in such situations is what Dr. Preeti suggests Miss A. She also warns Miss A to not meet her boss outside office premises as it might have a negative impact rather she can fix a meeting with her boss at a safe and comfortable place inside the office to discuss her concerns. Discouraging him subtly will help maintain her dignity, establish boundaries and hopefully will get the work done. 

In the Indian culture, we have a lot of boundary defining issues so it’s about time we start prioritizing our mental health and not let people cross well-defined boundaries. Learning to say no and establishing boundaries is essential to be at a happier place in life. 

We hope these pointers will be helpful for Miss A and everyone else facing similar problems. If you have any further questions to be addressed related to mental health and wellbeing, feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. Keep calling in and sharing your experiences, we are here to help you build a better life. 

ASK SAGEADVICE 2- Alcoholism affecting relationships

Alcoholics are people who are addicted to alcohol and experience withdrawal symptoms like palpitations, shakiness, restlessness, etc. when they try to quit which rarely is out of choice. Alcoholics do not realize the damage they are causing to their bodies, relationships and work. In fact, they have the misconception of alcohol not affecting anyone else which of course is not true as the family members of alcoholics go through a lot of trouble financially, mentally and in some cases physically too while dealing with an alcoholic. 

Following are some of the ways highlighted by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence in which alcohol affects relationships: 

  • Neglecting assigned duties: Alcohol impairs our cognitive and mental functioning which is likely to show in work performance and household responsibilities manifesting as neglect. 
  • Requires time to get rid of hangovers: One common side effect of drinking alcohol more than a limit is hangovers and it requires time to get yourself back to a normal state of functioning. Time wasted during hangovers may significantly disrupt commitments in one's life. 
  • Getting into legal trouble: Drinking can increase a person’s likelihood of getting into fights, displaying disorderly conduct in public, driving under the influence, and becoming involved in domestic disputes or violence.
  • Not knowing when to stop: Alcohol is addictive in nature and can lead to physical dependence. Although a person who is physically dependent is not necessarily addicted, ongoing drinking is a slippery slope that can lead to addiction.

We received a question from Mrs. D asking us how she can protect her children from the outbursts and abuses of a husband who cannot control his drinking and unruly behavior?

An alcoholic father or parent can create an extremely fearful environment for the family. He may have extreme bouts of anger/panic, be extremely irritable, abusive physically/verbally because their priorities lie mostly around their drinks and it is hard for them to control the urge. 

Alcoholic parents can have a deep emotional and psychological impact on their children or partner which may even make them vulnerable to fear, anxiety or depression and other physical health problems. 

These children/partners live lives of mistrust, low self-esteem, low self-confidence/inferiority complex, emotional insecurity, broken relationships, loneliness, social stigma, low focus and attention in academics, hampered finances, continuous conflicts in family/hatred towards alcoholic parents, self-blame, etc.

What can be done? 

Replying to Mrs. D our expert panel counsellor Sehar Sheikh suggested never ignore such situations because if you don’t take a step now, it’ll only get worse. Try creating a loving and caring atmosphere at home so the lack of one parent’s emotional availability can be compensated by another to build the trust and feelings of security in children. To develop the conscience of children they should be explained what alcoholism is and how it affects relationships as well as it requires support from family members to treat it. The no-alcoholic parent should also make sure that the communication between the children and the alcoholic parent is open and full of care instead of being strained or suppressed.

As a spouse of an alcoholic, you should also take a timeout from the negative environment frequently (go for a walk, yoga, painting, etc.) and counsel your children so they don’t end up blaming the alcoholic parent for any kind of distress rather be supportive towards them to help them out. 

It will be best to refer the alcoholic partner to a de-addiction center/or a rehabilitation center along with counselling (according to the need of the hour). Victim partners and children should also take professional mental health support to vent out and seek psychological peace. For holistic treatment, family therapy and counselling sessions can also be advised. 

Visit our podcast at for an elaborative discussion on how to deal with an alcoholic at home.

We hope these pointers will be helpful for spouses struggling with alcoholic partners. If you have any further questions to be addressed related to mental health and wellbeing, feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. 

ASK SAGEADVICE 1- Exam stress and uncertainty

During these difficult covid times universities, schools and academic institutions were closed for almost a period of 9months and most of the learning was taking place online. Some found it easier to cope with online learning due to the leisure time they were able to set aside for themselves while others found it difficult to concentrate on lectures through a screen and fatigued bodies. Online learning also made internal assessments and exams more of a task than it already was with its unpredictability and fluctuating dates.

Recently SageAdvice started with their new series- Ask SageAdvice and the very first question we received through our Whatsapp hotline number was of a student, we’ll call him P, who was worried about the stress that exam date uncertainty was causing and sought advice to deal with it from SageAdvice. 

Sugandhi, SageAdvice panel counsellor replying to P and to every other student who is dealing with a similar problem says that as the exam dates are uncertain, the gap (long or short) could affect student’s concentration and confidence for the preparation. Student’s should make sure that they are taking small breaks in between studying. 

Apart from taking breaks while studying the following points were also listed by Sugandhi to cope with exam stress that we are sure will come in handy for every student: 

  • Staying in touch with friends, teachers and family for social support. Knowing how others (his batchmates) are feeling and coping with similar situations can give you some ideas to deal with the stress or can motivate you.
  • Pay attention to what triggers your anxiety, is it less preparatory leaves between exams, lengthy syllabus, the idea of sitting for an exam after so long, etc. Triggers can be very subjective in nature and have to be identified first to be dealt with later.
  • Also if negative news is a trigger, ensure to limit the consumption of news throughout your day. 
  • Prepare notes for your last minute revision. Notes help you memorize the necessary material effectively and once you are confident about your subject knowledge the stress/anxiety tends to reduce.
  • Focus on your diet and stay hydrated. Prolonged stress can drain our body resources therefore it is very important to follow a good diet and drink at least 3-4L of water per day, especially during summers. 

(Visit our podcast at for an elaborated discussion on exam stress and uncertainty)

We hope these pointers will be helpful for students struggling with exam stress and uncertainty. If you have any further questions to be addressed related to mental health and wellbeing, feel free to drop us a Whatsapp message on 8284800259 and we will get back to you within 24hours. 

Characteristics of happy people

Philosophers, psychologists and researchers have been interested in what makes our life worth living since ancient times. Researchers now assume that the perception of one’s life as good is the key ingredient to a happy life. The cognitive and affective evaluation of our life is what makes it worth living and is labelled as “good”. This evaluation of our life is termed subjective well-being. Subjective well-being (SWB) is often referred to as the scientific term for happiness.

Happiness is one of the most important goals in everyone’s life, we are sure it’s the ultimate goal of yours too right?  

If we go on asking people what they want in life, most of them will likely include happiness in their top 3 wishes so let’s see what are the 5 basic characteristics of a happy person.

  1. They are hopeful and optimistic about their future. They look forward to the good and enjoy the present. 
  2. They are grateful for whatever they have and how their life has unfolded to make them the person they are today. They take out time to show gratitude towards their life. 
  3. They are curious to explore the world on their own terms and find even the smallest things interesting.
  4. Their ability to bounce back from obstacles is another tendency, which is formally referred to as resilience, that keeps them going. 
  5. Happy people are passionate about their life goals and celebrate their achievements. 

Are you happy in your life? Reflect back on how your life is taking shape and what your dominating emotions are. Also, next time if you feel like complaining, find one thing to be thankful for, to cultivate more happiness in your life in these difficult times. 

What is your attachment style?

Attachment is an emotional bond between individuals, parent-child and between romantic partners that fulfils our need for intimacy and belongingness in various domains of our lives. 

Initial studies conducted by John Bowlby, a psychologist, made him describe attachment as a “psychological connectedness between human beings”. Bowlby says that our attachment systems are a way for us to ensure our survival. Attachment is about proximity, exploration of the environment and protection of oneself and Bowlby believed that attachment bonds start to form from early childhood. Exploration of the environment is a factor that was further studied by Mary Ainsworth in her strange situation experiment in the 1970s among 6 months old toddlers and four types of attachment styles were suggested by her i.e., secure, anxious, avoidant and insecure. 

What is your attachment style? 

Secure: Secure adults are comfortable in expressing distress with their caregivers or partners. They feel they can be vulnerable around others and feel a sense of safety when they are around people close to them. In the strange situation experiment, children who had a secure attachment style felt joy after being reunited with their mother. 

Insecure Anxious: It was seen in the experiment that anxious children became extremely distressed when their mother left the room during the experiment. This pattern of attachment is also followed into adulthood by anxiously attached individuals and they tend to cling more to people and are highly dependent on others to take care of them. They are usually the ones to put more efforts into a relationship and be disappointed if the effort is not reciprocated. 

Insecure Avoidant: Interestingly, avoidant were the children who did not show any sign of distress when their mothers left the room and such individuals grow up to be less emotionally attached to others and do not feel comfortable in being vulnerable. They can essentially be the ones who keep distress to themselves and feel uneasy if a person tries to get too intimately close to them. 

Disorganized: This attachment style is characteristic of a confused individual. This means that they want to seek comfort through close attachments but they also feel distressed about it. Toddlers in the experiment expressed distress when their mothers left but also threw a tantrum once they were back and did not try to seek comfort. 

We can display different attachment styles in different domains of our lives. For example, a person might be secure in his romantic relationships but an avoidant in the friendship domain of his life and disorganized when it comes to the family environment. 

So which attachment style do you possess in different domains of your life?

Why therapy takes time?

Sometimes clients that we see during psychotherapy and counselling tend to ask us how long will it take to cure my illness? Would I have to come here for years? Don’t you have any treatment to cure me faster? I don’t have so much time for therapy, etc. 

What these clients fail to understand is therapy/counselling is not a rushed process rather a slow one and minimum requires 10-12 sessions to work out around mild illnesses and if a severe illness is in question then it can take any time between a couple of months to several years depending on how the client’s condition progresses. 

Now the important question is- why does therapy take so much time?

There are as many different types of talk therapies as there are problems to be dealt with so the initial few sessions are occupied by client history taking and understanding the problem that requires help. After a problem has been identified and conceptualized, it also requires time to figure out which therapy can be effective in the current situation that is usually accomplished via research or therapist’s experience. This is a matter of 3-4 sessions after which the actual work begins where the client and the therapist work collaboratively in dealing with negative maladaptive thoughts and behaviors and try to convert them into adaptive ones. 

It is during the collaborative session time that the most problem arises as there are clients who do not want to put in the hard work and would rather prefer taking medications for anxiety or depression. For clients like these there is no intrinsic motivation to do the therapy homework assignments and relying on medications is what they feel the most comfortable with as it requires less effort. They also lack the acknowledgement that medications will bring them temporary satisfaction if deeper roots of the problem are not dealt with. For example, if due to childhood trauma anxiety is being triggered in a young adult then taking medications won’t resolve the trauma. The only way to work through childhood trauma is by doing the work with the therapist to comprehend, accept and resolve the conflicting issues in the psyche. 

Working fast is not the nature of therapy. It is a process that requires time, patience and efforts from both therapist and clients. 

By asking your therapist to speed up the process or cutting the sessions short, you are putting them in an unethical position and also compromising on your progress. We believe the next time you visit a counsellor or a therapist you’ll be more informed about the process and have faith as well as patience during your sessions.

Ways to show respect towards your partner

Relationships are a great way for companionship but the choice of maintaining it takes efforts, loyalty and a lot of respect towards each other. Researchers have found that if partners are not respectful towards each other, the relationships can become emotionally abusive leading to a great deal of distress for both the individuals and also eventually terminating. On the other hand, basic levels of respect and trust can help flourish the relationship creating a long-lasting bond. 

To make the expression of respect easier for you, here are few ways you can show respect towards your partner: 

  1. Be attentive when they are talking to you. Don’t just hear them talk but listen. 
  2. Try not to use sarcastic comments which you know would bother them.
  3. If you are arguing, it’s best to not be passive-aggressive because it might create frustration and irritation in your partner further escalating the fights.
  4. Support the choices your partner makes and be by their side whenever required.
  5. Not just your partner but respect each individual associated closely with them even if there’s someone you don’t personally like. 
  6. Be vocally expressive about your love towards your partner so they feel valued.
  7. Forms of contempt like eye-rolling, annoying facial expressions are not acceptable
  8. If your values or opinions clash then you must remember the agree to disagree rule
  9. Communicate mindfully and don’t say things out of spite to your partner. 
  10. Demonstrate affection and trust with your actions as well. It is important to maintain the balance between your words and actions, both hold equal importance. The phrase “actions speak louder than words” is too old to be implemented in the current times. 

Keep letting your partner know they are loved, valued and respected. It's not a one-time thing but a continuous process of how a relationship should be maintained. We hope these tips were helpful and if you seek professional couple/family counselling, we have experts available for the same at SageAdvice, connect with us for a better life.

Apologizing the correct way

When you realize you have made a mistake do you feel hesitant in expressing yourself and asking for an apology? Is a mere “I am sorry” enough? 

Asking for forgiveness is much more than uttering the word “sorry”. Your apology should show that you feel responsible for whatever went wrong and your empathy towards the person who feels hurt. 

Before approaching someone for forgiveness, you need to spend some time with yourself thinking about what you did and in what ways it has impacted the other person. Once you approach the concerned person to apologize, listen carefully to how your actions have impacted them and try to understand their point of view. Take responsibility for your actions and do not explain away the hurt you've caused by rationalizing the situation or their emotions with a “but”. As you take responsibility for your actions, let the person know that you are willing to make up for your wrong-doings and ensure that the mistakes do not happen again. Always remember, when you go seeking forgiveness also be prepared to be rejected. Apologizing for your mistakes is your duty but the decision of forgiving you lies with the person you hurt.

Points to remember when you apologize 

  • Be clear about what you are apologizing for and take responsibility for the parts you are wrong in. 
  • Apologize with a clear heart and intentions instead of just ending an argument or to ease the situation when you don’t mean to apologize.
  • Don’t invalidate the feelings of the person or over-explain the situation. Buts and ifs are not the right way to go when making an apology.
  • Be open to correcting what you did wrong and also ask the person you hurt as to how you can mend the situation so they are at ease. 
  • Make sure to not repeat your mistake and have a plan to go forward so you don’t end up in the same pit again. 

Forgiveness: An act for yourself

When someone does you wrong you might feel uncertain about if you’ll ever be able to forgive them or release the negative feelings you have towards them. Even if you decide to move on there can be a part of you that still holds a grudge against the betrayal, holding you back from releasing the negativities attached to it. 

It is very common to feel this way however remember not forgiving is not something you are doing for them but something that you are doing for yourself. Not forgiving will keep you caught up with emotions like anger, betrayal and sadness hence to keep yourself at peace forgiveness might be necessary. Don’t mistake forgiveness with forgetting about the act, moving on, reconciling with the person or invalidating the hurt caused to you but forgiving is simply an act to let go of the hurt and the person who caused that hurt, compassionately, making forgiving an act for yourself and not others. Forgiveness will certainly make them feel better but it’s more an act for your peace. 

Before you choose to forgive someone, reflect upon your feelings and why you are hurt or bothered by the actions of others as well as which particular actions bother you. Then once you feel ready to forgive, look upon the brighter side of the situation so you can attain an emotional balance and feel a little bit at ease. 

Getting into action

Do you want to forgive someone but don’t know how to do it? Don’t you worry, we got you covered. Here are tips you can follow: 

  • Write a letter: to forgive someone you don’t necessarily have to be in contact with them, you can easily vent out using a letter addressed to them. A letter is a great catharsis source as no social desirable statements are required, you can be yourself and say whatever you want to say. Believe us by the end of the letter you’ll feel much lighter inside. 
  • Talk to a friend: if writing a letter feels like a task and an extra burden to you then you can always turn to a friend for a mind-calming talk. A conversation between close friends is another great cathartic source. 
  • REACH: REACH is a research-based program designed for forgiveness which means: 

R → Recalling and visualize the betrayal

E → Empathizing without minimizing

A → Altruism

C → Committing to forgiveness by writing about your decision or telling someone about it

H → Holding on to your choice to forgive

  • Direct confrontation: if you are in direct contact with the person then you can respectfully let the person know what bothers you without being defensive during the process and if the situation is workable from your side or not. Clarifying if the situation is workable or not is extremely important because the next step is decided accordingly. If it is workable then both the individuals can collectively work towards mending the relationship and if not then it’ll be clear to both that it’s time to move on. 

We hope these tips were helpful to you. We understand forgiveness can be difficult but with practice, patience and a positive outlook you can develop the skill of forgiveness. 

Benefits of Counselling

“Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage. Truth and courage aren’t always comfortable but they are never a weakness.”

-Brene Brown

Life has its ups and downs making us all go through difficult times at some point. When life throws lemons at you and if you cannot figure out how to make lemonade out of it, with some help it can be possible. 

Counselling can be very helpful in untangling your life. Some people carry with them their childhood traumas, some are in a relationship crisis while some might be struggling to just get out of their bed. Counselling has something for each one of us and each situation. Seeking help from a professional can help explore many possibilities and different opportunities which you might not have considered. Counselling is not a dead end as many like to call it but a path towards growth. It's a myth that you have to be at the rock bottom of your life to make an appointment with your counsellor. 

Having someone to share your thoughts and experiences without any judgement is invaluable and therefore we are here to highlight some benefits of counselling that might encourage you to seek help in case you are in need: 

  • Self-exploration and introspection 

Counsellors possess the skill set to probe your personality and make you aware of the aspects of yourself that were untapped. During the sessions, counsellors make sure you indulge in self-reflection and help you improve your thoughts and actions which are contributing to the problem at hand. 

  • Non-judgmental support and confidentiality 

Counsellor is there to listen to you non-judgmentally and validate your thoughts as well as feelings so the client feels comfortable in self-disclosure of personal information. An uninterrupted venting space is provided to the client and all information is kept confidential by the counsellor. 

  • Improving irrational beliefs

Our problems tend to arise from the irrational beliefs we hold about it and counsellors work with us in exploring our thought process, identify irrational or negative beliefs and improve them in a collaborative process. With awareness and insight into yourself, rational ways of behaving can be learned to gain better control over your life. 

  • Management of emotions

Identifying and regulating the imbalance emotional cycle is another benefit of counselling. Whether you are feeling angry, depressed, stressed, anxious or even procrastinate your way out of work, a counsellor works with you to balance your emotions so you can cope with your emotions in a healthy constructive way. 

  • Learning effective skills 

There is an unlimited number of skills like decision making, healthy coping, problem-solving, anger management, stress reduction, relaxation techniques, etc. that you can learn from counselling and use for the rest of your life. hope, motivation and encouragement are fostered by counselling and the client learns to exert control in his life with better awareness of self and others. 

Our professional therapists and counsellors work collaboratively with you to support you through difficult times and help you achieve healthy ways of living. If you are someone who requires counselling/therapy, get in touch with experienced professionals on our website and get started. 

Come, let’s make lemonade out of lemons together!

Myths about therapy

Mental illness affects millions of people in India. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that by the end of 2020 approximately 20% of the Indian population will suffer from some mental illness. According to the numbers quoted by WHO 56 million Indian citizens suffer from depression and another 38 million suffer from anxiety disorders, both serious and very commonly seen mental illnesses. 

Even though awareness around mental health is increasing nowadays, there still are few common myths that need to be addressed and clarified for everyone to be well informed about therapy and take the necessary step forward of contacting a mental health counsellor or therapist whenever required. 

Myth 1: “I don’t need therapy right now. It’s not that bad.”

Reality check: You don’t need to be at the rock bottom of your situation to consider therapy. As soon as the situation starts to interfere with your personal, professional and social functioning, it is advisable to take the help of a mental health professional to get you back on track. Also, many individuals believe that their sufferings are a normal routine part of life and hence always try to manage the difficulties on their own further normalizing the everyday challenges they face and struggle to cope with. Everyone can benefit from therapy, during any phase of their problems. 

Myth 2: “I can fix myself on my own”

Reality check: In the culture we grew up in, asking for help regarding mental health matters is looked down upon in fact psychologists/psychiatrists are, by few, referred to as “pagalon ka doctor”. Conditioning like that makes us feel weak and self-conscious in asking for help further giving rise to the idea of “I’ll fix it on my own” preventing us from seeking the necessary help needed. The truth though is asking for help when required is a sign of strength and courage. 

Myth 3: “Therapy is too expensive for me to afford”

Reality check: Mental health services have a reputation for being too expensive and for the rich. However, therapy costs depend upon your condition and your therapists. There are many affordable options available for therapy starting from prices as low as INR300. The cost of therapy is also decided keeping in mind the qualifications of your therapist, the kind of therapy you require to deal with your problems and the frequency as well as the duration of your sessions.  

Myth 4: “I have my friends to hear me out, I don’t need a therapist”

Reality check: Friends no doubt are a great source to vent but sometimes a conversation between friends can take a toll on your friendship if the conversations are too self-centric. A therapist gives you space and time to talk about what bothers you and tries to dig deep into the matter by making connections between the past, present and future. The experience and education of a therapist make the conversation more meaningful and provides great insights. 

Myth 5: “Therapy is forever and I don’t have time for a commitment like that right now.”

Reality check: People commonly believe that once you start going for therapy, you become dependent on the therapist and you have to keep going for sessions for the rest of your life which is completely false. The entire point of therapy is to make you self-reliant and not be dependent on anyone and as soon as your therapist can do that, the sessions terminate. Treating a mental health condition differs from case to case and illness to illness. There is no fixed timeline for how long therapy will go on but roughly treating anxiety and depression takes a minimum of 4-6months whereas conditions more serious like schizophrenia might take years based on the conditions and improvement seen in the client. 

Myths about therapy will stay as long as people won’t be informed about how therapy works, we at Sage Advice make an effort to reach out to a wider audience and educate them about therapies as well as offer psychotherapy at affordable rates. If any of the above myths have been preventing you from taking therapy then book your appointments today with the best psychologists from all over India at Sage Advice and get started! 

Characteristics of good listeners

Good listeners are always great at making you feel heard and understood. Listening is an important skill that helps you connect with others and understand their perspective. When you are attentive towards others you tend to take back with you information that can prove helpful for you as well.

When we say the word “good listener” who pops into your mind? Is it you or is it a friend you go to at the time of need? 

Think about this person in your life who you claim to be a good listener. Carefully try to analyze what it is that they do which gives you an idea of them being a good listener and check which out of the following are characteristics corresponding to them: 

  • They pay attention to when you talk and cut off all distractions like cell phones and laptops when you sit down with them. These people are mindfully present in the moment.
  • Maintain eye contact so you get their undivided attention without getting interrupted in between. 
  • They don’t just hear you out for the sake of it but genuinely show interest and ask follow up questions so both of you can gain a better insight into the situation. Making the conversation engaging and encouraging the speaker to communicate.
  • Making their body language open and environment welcoming is also a trait of good listeners that draws people towards them.
  • They are interested in what you are saying and try to offer suggestions instead of advice once the speaker is finished talking and the listener has made sure he/she understood everything clearly by paraphrasing the conversation according to his/her knowledge.

Does your good listener possess these qualities? If they do then indeed they have the skill of being a good listener. It is easy to sit and have a conversation with others but the challenge is to be a good listener and make the speaker feel comfortable in talking to you. Everyone seeks a person who pays attention to them and shows genuine interest rather than just hearing them out and waiting to finish so they can start talking. Above mentioned are few characteristics that you can compare with yourself and improve where you think the lack is.

Tips for anger management

We are sure you are familiar with what anger is, right? All of us have experienced either some annoyance or a full-fledged rage towards someone or something to know what anger feels like. It is an emotional state that varies in its intensity from mild annoyance to full rage. Usually, anger is a healthy emotion and one of the primary emotions but if it surpasses its limit, anger can become dangerous leading to delinquencies and hurting others. Anger can be caused by both internal and external events like overthinking about a problem you are caught up in or getting furious at your brother. 

Expression and management of anger

Anger is a very natural response when you feel threatened by events and allows you to protect yourself by defending. Even though anger plays a role in protecting us and is somewhat necessary for our survival, we cannot possibly lash out at anyone who puts us in the position of being angry as the cultural environment, society, teachings limit us from expressing rage that can have harmful consequences. Things we do or say in anger cannot be taken back and most people tend to say hurtful statements to others which later they might regret. 

Do you wonder what makes some people get angrier than others? 

You might have noticed the variation in feeling and expressing anger in individuals around you. Some people are generally more “hot-headed” than others whereas we also have people around us who do not feel anger at all, as they claim. It is not possible to not feel anger at all but the ones who claim to not are either suppressing their anger or have mastered the skill of anger management.

Anger has a genetic basis to which researchers have found evidence and also the social environment of each individual makes the expression of anger different for them, most of us have been taught that anger is not healthy and shouldn’t be expressed overtly which leads to the conditioning of anger suppression. Chances are that not expressing anger can turn inward making the person fall in and suffering from psychological difficulties can take over. 

The best way to deal with anger is to express your feelings assertively and not aggressively. Assertiveness means directly confronting the people who cause hurt to you in an unharmful manner and make it clear to them what your concerns are. Assertive expression of anger gives you a chance to be respectful towards yourself and others.  

Tips for the next time you feel angry

  • Identify your triggers: For the next couple of times when you feel angry, try to identify what triggered you. Was it a specific person? an event? a thought?
  • Pay attention to the physiological signs of your body: when we are angry our heart starts to beat faster, ears start to burn, feel uneasy and recognizing these signs can help you manage the situation better.
  • Use relaxation techniques: relaxation techniques and imagery have been proven to increase the level of patience in a person making them more mindful and reduce anger as well as sudden expression of anger. 
  • Practice: Identifying triggers can help you practice uneasy or difficult conversations well in advance to manage your reactions.
  • Changing your environment: If you feel too overwhelmed by your environment then give yourself a break and move out of the situation. You can always come back to address it more constructively. 

Anger is not always bad, it's just the expression of anger that makes all the difference. Anger should be felt but should not be expressed aggressively. Go easy on yourself even if you are one of those who feel anger more intensely and try to find alternatives to fix your situation. Even after practicing the other tips, you feel your anger is really out of control and hampers your personal life, a professional psychologist can always work with you in improving your anger management strategies through cognitive restructuring and training. Connect with the best counsellors and therapists at Sage Advice if you require one.

Belongingness and relationships

Individuals are social animals and seek acceptance as well as emotional support from the ones around them. The motivation to be an acquaintance to others is an intrinsic one which encourages us to form close bonds with society. The emotional need to be affiliated with others is what social psychology refers to as the need to belong. 

Belongingness drives us to form long-lasting loving and stable relationships. As Abraham Maslow explained in his hierarchy needs theory that belongingness is a survival higher-order need which must be fulfilled for a person to reach his/her full potential. 

Our personal relationships are reflective of our mental wellbeing. The better our relationships are, the happier we are in our lives. The satisfaction of having strong bonds are directly responsible for reduced stress, mental illnesses and increased resilience. 

Maintaining Relationships

Forming close relationships might look easy to some but most of us will agree that maintaining relationships is much tougher than initiating one. Maintaining relationships requires efforts from both the parties involved. By relationships, we don’t mean romantic relationships here but the term is inclusive of a wider audience like families, friends, social groups, peer groups, etc. 

Thus, it is essential to consistently take care of and sustain our relationships with the important individuals in our lives as well as take time out to strengthen our relationships: 

  • Set time aside for people you love and care about. It helps you connect with them better. 
  • Be present with the ones who are important to you. Don’t get stuck in the thighs that happened in the past or stress about what the future holds but enjoy the time you have together with them in the here and now. 
  • Listen to what they have to say and try to understand their perspectives. 
  • Express appreciation for their presence in your life and let them know from time to time how much they mean to you. 
  • Communicate the good and bad in your relationship. 
  • Conflict resolution strategies are the key to long-lasting relationships. 

If you feel that the efforts you make are not being acknowledged or your communication style doesn’t fit well with others then you can consider taking the help of a counsellor to mediate the conversations and offer professional help to resolve your issues. Reach out to Sage advice as we have professional relationship counsellors that can be helpful to you in the time of need.  

Avoiding Procrastination

Ben Franklin’s proverb that we shouldn’t put off until tomorrow what we can do today holds true even today but we fail to preach. This failure to preach can be attributed to personal, environmental, task-specific and hindering factors as we discussed in our previous blog. 

Overcoming procrastination

You might wonder once I figure out the factors that work in combination towards my procrastination, what is it that I should do next? 

That is a very valid question you are asking us and we are here to make you aware of the strategies that are available for procrastinators but before that here is a step by step guide for you to overcome procrastination: 

Step 1: After identifying the factors that lead to procrastination, establish the goals that you want to achieve in a day. Make sure your goals are simple, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely (SMART goal) 

Step 2: Create the plan of action at the start of each day and try your best to follow it. Include anti-procrastination techniques in it. 

Step 3: Implement your plan and monitor the progress you make every day. If the need arises modify your plan of action according to the current demands.

Anti-Procrastination Techniques 

We curated a list of anti-procrastination techniques for you to use whenever you catch yourself procrastinating

  • Make today count by working on projects you have for the day instead of dwelling on what you did not get done yesterday. 
  • Establish a regular work routine instead of finding a motivation to start working. Get started and we promise once you do, you’ll end up having a productive day. 
  • Larger tasks need to be broken down and organized into small ones. Start with easily accomplishing goals to get you started and keep a to-do list with you in which you can strike out the tasks that are completed. The satisfaction of doing that is real! 
  • Give yourself breaks in between to breath and freshen up. This will help you from not getting burned out. 
  • Identify the time during the day when you are the most and least productive and schedule your work according to that

You don’t have to be perfect at everything you do, just being good enough and putting in all the efforts that you possibly could have works well too. Being hard on yourself will push you further towards procrastination by amplifying the fear of failure or not being perfect. give yourself credit when you accomplish something and treat yourself. Focus on your goals and visualize yourself benefiting from the outcomes of your work. 

What is the reason for your procrastination?

Defining procrastination

To procrastinate is to delay or keep pushing your work to tomorrow, unnecessarily. Example you have an assignment to complete but you end up wasting your time on social media. Procrastination is often associated with less successful goal achievement, stress and other psychological factors. 

Procrastination is a complex phenomenon and cannot be easily explained by lack of self-control or will power. It more than often involves a combination of several factors for a person to procrastinate. There are factors that motivate us to get done with the work on time like associated rewards, reinforcements, etc. and on the other hand, we also have unmotivating factors like stress and dislike towards the task to delay our work. Along with these factors, the psychological state of an individual as well as hindering factors like having a long workday and not being in the mood, can also be viewed in combination to make you procrastinate. 

We fail at regulating our behavior due to hindering factors and our fluctuating motivation which makes us push the tasks forward creating a gap between what we intend to do and what we are actually doing. 

Did you ever think about why you procrastinate? 

If you are a procrastinator then we are sure you might have asked yourself this several times by now “why do I procrastinate so much?” or “why can’t I get the work done on time?”. The answer to this is in the factors listed below. Read through them and identify the reasons for your procrastination yourself: 

  • Complex goals: Complex goals usually are time-consuming, abstract and do not provide immediate rewards which make us work towards them less seriously. For example “Get fit” is an abstract goal providing benefits after a long period of hard work whereas restating this goal like 30 minutes cardio exercise session 4 times a week makes it a more doable task. 
  • Far away rewards: The value of a reward that comes much later after task completion gets reduced in turn making the initial task less of a priority for the person. 
  • Disconnect from future: Tasks like eating healthy which are beneficial later in the future are not taken in the high priority range by people and hence they don’t feel motivated to work towards them in the present.
  • Indecisiveness: Sometimes procrastination is the direct result of indecisiveness especially when there is more than one task to be completed- the more options you have, the harder it will be for you to choose. 
  • Overwhelmed: Feeling overwhelmed with workload can lead to avoiding the tasks at hand.
  • Task aversion: When there’s a task you dislike, the most likely thing to happen in that case is task aversion. 
  • Fear of negative feedback: Our desire to be liked by others creates a fear of rejection and failure in us which demotivates us to take on the work where criticism can be an outcome.
  • Psychological factors: Anxiety, being stressed, not feeling motivated, wanting perfection, fearing failure, low self-esteem, self-sabotage, etc. are all factors that contribute towards procrastination. 

All these factors may not apply to each one of you but it is important for all procrastinators out there to identify the root cause of their procrastinating tendencies and then form a plan to overcome them. Stay tuned for our next blog to know some anti-procrastination techniques. 

Captain Sir Tom Moore- You never walk alone

A second world war veteran throws a challenge to the world at the tender age of 99. He decides to walk in his garden, taking gingerly steps with his walker to raise a modest sum of money for the NHS in the UK. The world continues to battle COVID-19 and Captain Sir Tom Moore was not going to sit at the sidelines and be a bystander. He joined the action in the best way he could and did so till he drew his last breath on Tuesday and succumbed to the same virus, but not before his walk in the garden had stirred a revolution and helped the NHS raise 39 Million British pounds! 

His is a story of courage and the indomitable human spirit. His trembling weak legs and wrinkled feet on the grass of his blessed lawn have brought hope, life, medication and support to several thousand who continue to battle covid in the UK. Sir Moore sets the bar high for all of us. We too can rise above our own limiting beliefs and challenge the status quo. COVID-19 is a stretching exercise for all of us and we are still adapting to the new normal it dictates. We have lost, learnt, grieved and gained a lot in terms of wisdom and some great life lessons have come our way. 

Captain Sir Tom Moore is a shining beacon that inspires us to take heart and hold tight. ‘This too shall pass’. As I see him sing the song he recorded ‘you never walk alone’ wheelchair fade into the light of a new dawn, his message is clear, do your little walk/dance/ speech/ charity/ selfless gesture and the world will join your noble deed and it will grow into a miracle! We at Sage Advice, pay our tribute to a truly inspiring COVID warrior of our times. May his soul rest in peace.

Coming Back Stronger for 2021

2020 will not only be known for the pandemic but also as the year when more than 60% of the country’s population suffered from mental illnesses ranging from mild to severe. The year indeed took a toll on our mental health but with a new year comes new opportunities and a chance to begin fresh. This year can be seen as an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and take good care of our mental and emotional health. A great way to begin is by: 

  • Reflecting on 2020 and being grateful for the things you have with you in 2021. Dedicate time to sit down with yourself and make a list of things that you are grateful for. 
  •  Make a self-care routine for yourself that you can easily follow throughout the year. Let’s see for how long you can commit to yourself. It can include all those activities that you enjoy doing by yourself or with others. Try giving at least 10-15minutes to such activities each day.  
  • Put the negativity behind and by that, we also mean the toxic people that you were till now holding on to. The people who belittle your ambitions, bring drama and harm your mental health don’t belong with you. In 2021 continue to social distance yourself from such people. 
  • Prioritize yourself before anyone else. So many times it happens we end up going to gatherings we are least interested in, following trends just for the sake of it, peer pressure ourselves into unhealthy habits, adjust when we don’t want to and all of these pile-ups either into frustrations or make our personality more prone to pleasing people. A people pleaser is someone who looks for validation and gets a boost to their self-esteem by doing things for others and not keeping themselves as a priority. 
  • Make Mental Health First Aid a part of your new year plan too. MHFA instructs individuals to recognize the signs of emotional wellness and gives them the strength as well as the skills to help the individuals who might be battling. Be the difference for yourself and others in the New Year.
  • While you try to maintain the balance during this year, take good care of your basic needs. When we are bored, tired, hungry, lacking affection it can affect our mood. Prioritize a healthy routine, maintaining contact, sleeping on time, eating healthy meals more often and moving your body every day for at least 30minutes. 

Enter 2021 with the motto of being good to yourself and others while keeping your emotional and mental health as a priority. Be the difference for yourself and others. Dedicate this year to maintain the energy to flip your wings while soaring into greater heights, everyday a bit closer to your destiny. 

Set Your Intentions Right This New Year!

2020 has almost passed with us living in survival mode and constantly afraid of what new twists will 2020 bring. The year started with the news of violence and protests together with the fear of a deadly virus spreading all over the world which became the highlight of the year. We, ever since, have been waiting hopefully to get back to our normal lives. 

With a new year starting, a fresh start is also necessary. A fresh start in terms of social normality is only possible when vaccines start to circulate and cases in several states of India go down but a fresh start of our mindset is what we can work on starting now. 

Set up intentions and goals for the year ahead of you so you can gain control of your life back and the feeling of uncertainty stays away from you. The simplest way to do so is to start by reflecting on the previous year. Think or even better, note down your achievements and failures from 2020, this will help you to plan your coming year with more clarity. If it seems feasible for you, get out in nature and reflect upon yourselves with a group of friends. It’s always a good activity to do with the company of like-minded people. A quick suggestion to start the reflection process is that you can reflect systematically going on from month to month or from each quarter of the year, this will help retrieve memories from your system faster. 

Some questions that might help you to organize your intentions during the process are: 

  • What were the top 10 moments of 2020 for me? 
  • What were my top 5 achievements? 
  • Who are the people I am most grateful for in 2020? 
  • What did I learn this year? 
  • What isn't adding to my growth and I need to let go of? 
  • What do I want to take with me in 2021? 
  • What is that one thing of mine that I would like to work on? 
  • What are my 5 goals for 2021?

After you are done reflecting and setting your intentions for the coming year, chose a theme around which you want to centre your year like abundance, love, gratitude, etc. Then every time there's a decision which you have to make, go back to your 2021 theme word and it'll guide you. 

We can't predict the future but we can always plan the best one for us and manifest it in our own ways. Sage Advice hopes that your year is a holistically joyful one which enhances your personal growth and mental health.

The Era of Digital Learning

Learning as a whole is an amalgamation of learning as well as interacting with the environment. Today in the times of Covid-19, when everything has turned to digital, humans have also enhanced their learning through the information available on digital devices like computers, smartphones, etc. Covid- 19 has made us shift from classroom learning to digital learning. 

Digital Learning makes effective use of learning. Even though it has changed the role of a teacher but not eliminated the need of a teacher. A teacher is now able to provide personalised attention to children through interaction and group discussion to ensure that students are learning and stay on track. Teachers play the role of a guide, not a person who just comes to a class, dictates and goes.

The amount of flexibility, freedom of place, mode of learning and availability of online tools has made digital learning more interesting, attractive and fun. Therefore, some advantages of digital learning can we can think of includes:

  • Flexibility: Availability of full flexibility in terms of time, place, etc.
  • Convenience: Accessibility of content online from any place is a big boon.
  • Cost-Effective: Huge reduction in travelling cost and various other expenses as compared to in-person teaching
  • Interactivity: It encourages both students and teachers to actively participate in class discussions and make the audio-visual learning experience a success.

In Spite of the advantages listed above, there are so many learners and even providers who are facing difficulty in adjusting themselves to this new trend of learning. Disadvantages of digital learning are taking a toll on the mental health of several as it includes :

  • Lack of Socio-Cultural Interaction and feeling of Loneliness: Humans are social animals and face-to-face interactions are an important part of life which is hugely hindered in digital learning and thus might lead many people to feel lonely and might even further trigger anxiety issues.
  • Lack of Focus: The variety of gadgets available around students all the time and the lack of supervision at homes might greatly affect a person’s focus and thus affect his learning capabilities.
  • Difficulty operating new technology: While it is easy to figure technology out for young adults and teenagers, many professors, teachers, employees are facing difficulty in operating online gadgets and doing the bare minimum on them is costing them more time and stressful days as compared to the time when they were used to handling things manually. 

Although Digital Learning has been playing an important part in our lives since the past few months and has effectively turned around the education and learning scenario for the good of many so hopefully people will appreciate this new opportunity to learn which they’ve got and try to make the best out of it!

Treatments Available for SAD

In our previous blog, we mentioned how winters can be a time where seasonal affective depression can be triggered due to the low sun exposure and longer nights. Today, we’ll be looking at treatment options that are available to help us with SAD. 

Seeking professional help with severe depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation is necessary hence these treatment methods are not to substitute the traditional therapy or counselling for SAD but to make you aware of the available options. Consult a therapist or counsellor and observe which of these techniques work well for you. 

Following are ways in which SAD can be managed: 

  • Light therapy: Since limited exposure to light is one of the main causes of SAD, light therapy is effective in the treatment. Full-spectrum light comes from a box, visor or a lamp that mimics the natural light and the individual is exposed to it from 15mins to 1.5hours depending upon the need. Approximately 50% of clients report full remission of symptoms through light therapy. 
  • Medications: Along with therapy, a physician can be consulted for suitable medications. 
  • Psychotherapy: This type of therapy can help gain insight into negative thought patterns and behaviors as well as learn healthy strategies to cope with the stress induced by SAD. 
  • Aromatherapy: Aromatic essential oils can be used for healing and treatment. It enlightens our mood and promotes positive well-being. 
  • Vitamin D supplements: Exposure to sunlight is a natural source of vitamin D but in cases where there is a deficiency of vitamin D, supplements are given to improve the symptoms. 
  • Omega-3 oils: Research has shown that omega-3 oils help treat depressive symptoms at a rate similar to that of antidepressants.
  • Exercise: Exercise is something we have been emphasizing on a lot and how essential it is to just take 15mins out of your day to exercise. 
  • Yoga therapy and meditation: Yogic breathing exercises, meditation and guided imagery techniques are seen to be effective in stress and depressive symptoms reduction. 

These widely used techniques have supportive literature in reducing depressive symptoms and should be used after consulting the doctor. Living with a mental illness is not easy and when facing symptoms of SAD, we suggest you take every chance you get to go out, be in the sun and interact with others. Even if going out for you is not an option, make sure you have natural sunlight coming into your house. Keep your mood a bit sunnier even in those dark winters.

Seasonal Affective Depression

Now that India has welcomed cold winter days have you been observant of the changes it has brought in your mood or routine activities?

It has been seen often that with chilly days, winters for some are also marked by winter blues which is a more severe form termed as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). SAD is a well recognized diagnostic category and is a type of depression that is said to begin during the late fall or early winters and lasts up to the spring season manifesting itself through symptoms like sleep problems, depression, fatigue, hopelessness, low energy, appetite changes, suicidal thoughts, hypersensitivity, anxiety, concentration problem and feeling heavy most of the time. According to statistics of the USA, 5% of the population is seen to be affected with SAD in a 3:1 female-male ratio. The onset of seasonal affective disorders is seen to be in the early 20s and the duration of seasonal depression is seen to be 4-5months. 

The reason behind why we feel low and lethargic during winters are very much scientific, as the days become shorter and nights longer, the exposure to sun we get in winters is limited and this reduced exposure to sunlight can cause our serotonin (a neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood and happiness) levels to drop which is a major cause of depression. Apart from an imbalance in serotonin, disturbance of the hormone melatonin which regulates our sleep-wake cycle is also observed during winters affecting our body clock or circadian rhythms. 

Winters indeed do put some of us in a vulnerable position where we have to make efforts to get going but there are several ways in which SAD can be treated via professional support and home remedies can further help you gain control of the situation without winter blues overpowering you. If you recognize that the efforts you are making on your own aren’t enough for you, seek professional help. Also, stay tuned with Sage Advice to know various intervention and treatment strategies for SAD. 

Psychological Impact of COVID-19

We are towards the end of this catastrophic and apocalyptic year, which seemed almost like living through a nightmare, a sci-fi horror film, like an end of the world prediction coming true… and much much more. The image of doctors and nurses in their PPE suits flitting around in ICUs while patients hooked onto humming machines, ventilators and monitors seemed unreal and chilling. There was a general collective feeling of chaos, disintegration, disruption, distrust and disbelief. Life was as if put on a hold. The prevailing anomie and uncertainty paved way for fear, anger, denial, sadness, hopelessness, angst, trauma, isolation and a host of other overwhelming feelings which impacted mental health and well being, setting the turf for the onset of mental illnesses namely depression, anxiety, insomnia, reduced appetite, substance abuse and increased number of suicides.

The social isolation and economic backlash have spared no one. A study done in India with 159 respondents found that women were more prone to stress during the pandemic, and also that children and elderly too have been seriously impacted in stress levels. As far as stress in women, it has been seen that women have had to bear all the responsibilities as far as childcare, cooking, cleaning and other household tasks are concerned. The high prevalence of domestic violence and emotional abuse also has placed women vulnerable to depression and anxiety. Children and elderly are vulnerable in ways which have left them socially isolated and coping with new and unpredictable situations. Overall, even among the general population, people have been coping with fears such as- What if I get infected with the virus? What if I need hospitalization? Will I lose my job? Will I see a pay-cut? How am I going to run my expenses without work? How do I pay my bills? For how long do I remain locked in? Overall, there is a perception of threat experienced and along with this, there is a lot of demand being made on coping and adapting skills of human beings which in itself is a source of high stress.  

Another study focused on how to overcome mental stress inflicted by the pandemic situation. It was found that emotionally resilient persons had more coping skills and hence experienced lesser anxiety. Here are some techniques which have proven beneficial for stress relief during the pandemic:

  • Stop the river at the source- Learning to become more mindful helps one to recognize the source of the stress and one can prevent a build-up of negative thoughts and emotions inside us. Once we know what it is exactly that makes us anxious, we can help ourselves by talking about the stress, doing things differently or helping us understand ourselves better why we feel stressed by certain situations or behaviours. Also, you can prevent the flooding of negative emotions and spillover into different behaviours like an expression of anger and disappointment on others at home.
  • Think, feel, body- Ask yourself what you are thinking, see if they are positive or negative thoughts. Then ask yourself how you are feeling. Again check if the feeling is peaceful and harmonious or not. Then lastly, ask yourself where in your body do you feel your negative emotions. Your gut is usually the area of built-up anxiety. You could also feel suffocated in the area around the chest. Another may feel stress near the shoulders and neck. The mind-body connection is well documented and research shows that the emotions are felt and experienced in the different areas of the body.
  • Journaling- Writing about your feelings is a great way to relieve stress. It helps you find a pattern in your thoughts and you can see if they are rational or irrational, thereby helping yourself align more with rational thinking.
  • Self-care and relaxation- When you feel that there is a lot of responsibility on you and you are feeling burdened and inadequate, just leave everything and sit down with feet up. Self-care and relaxation are important. A clean house can wait and delegation of work to others will create better family bonds. There is a lot of stuff which can wait and when you prioritize, you will see that your fretting was unnecessary.

More than anything, give yourself the self-love and care which will help you keep your mental health in good shape. Practice physical exercise, meditation and follow some hobbies. Connect with friends virtually, or keep adequate social distance. Think positive thoughts and develop the patience in yourself to wait for the situation to improve and for plans which did not see the light of the day this year. Those of us who lost a loved one, be brave and strong, time is the best healer. More than anything it’s the inner calm that needs reclaiming and it must be done.

Effects of Online Learning on Students

When the pandemic began no one had any idea of what turns and changes we’ll be experiencing in the coming days. As education is essential for everyone’s personal and professional growth, the authorities decided to shift classroom teaching to online learning which was initially kept on hold during the lockdown. 

As classes began online, most of the students found it difficult to compensate with the lack of face to face interactions. Additionally, increased screen time leads to challenges like fatigue, constant headaches, procrastination, lack of motivation, ineffective time management, feeling isolated, alone and inactive. Students vulnerable to hypertension, migraine, etc. may find it difficult to sit in front of the screen for hours and hence might face difficulties in meeting deadlines. Counsellors at Sage Advice also noticed that online classes slowly became the reason for increased absenteeism with students commenting that they didn’t gain any knowledge from online classes and found virtual classes to be a waste of their time. The mental and emotional distress faced by students can be manifested as physical symptoms too. Uneasiness and stress can bring down immunity, exposing individuals to illness which during the time of a pandemic puts them at a higher risk of contracting with the virus. High-stress levels are discovered to be linked with cancer and coronary illness. The chronic impact of stress can hence be life-changing and threatening.

On the other hand, some students enjoy online classes as it gives them a comfortable space to learn and enough time in hand to flexibly do internships or part-time jobs. Online education is a step taken towards protecting the students from the deadly virus. Increase in the level of safety and comfort due to online classes is helping students cope well with the changes. Few students happen to mention that online classes have in fact helped them with effective time management and get into a proper routine at home. 

The approach of the students towards online classes is typically what differentiates its effect on their mental health. The ones who enjoy studying at the comfort of their home and are not very social are coping well with virtual learning whereas the ones who value connections are finding it difficult to sit and take classes. 

Individual differences among students make it necessary for schools, universities and parents at home to take certain measures to uplift the students so they don’t eventually burnout. 

If you or anyone you know are struggling with virtual learning, get in touch with counsellors at Sage Advice and get help. 

Trapped with Lockdown Fatigue?

We understand how mundane the lockdown times can be for each one of us. This is not how we thought we’ll be spending 2020. The pandemic has inflicted various challenges upon us but what keeps us going is the unity and hope that one day this will all be over for us. 

Lockdown fatigues are important to be taken care of as the everyday exhaustion if prolonged can turn into burnout. Burnouts are a state of complete physical, mental and emotional exhaustion. 

Many people miss the pleasures that were associated with the pre-pandemic period but as it is said change is the only constant in our lives and adapting to changes in our lives makes us efficient for today. 

Sage Advice bring in the following strategies to not let lockdown fatigue affect your being: 

  • Allow yourself to grieve: before you move on to do anything, you must allow yourself to grieve or miss the pre-pandemic lifestyle. Facing your adversities and negative emotions attached to it is the first step towards adapting to the change. Be grateful for the life you had, adjust to new routines and activities. 
  • Share your experiences: Remember, that you aren’t alone facing the challenges of lockdown. With you the entire country is going through the same changes in their lifestyle therefore sharing can help you gain a new perspective about your situation or it can simply help with catharsis. 
  • Journaling and affirmations: it might be difficult for some of us to open about your personal experiences with others, in such cases, journaling comes to our rescue and if you are not big on journaling your thoughts, you can always note down some affirmations for how you hope your life to be once the pandemic is over. Affirmations are positive statements and there is well-established psychological literature around affirmations having a positive impact on us. 
  • Create and stick to a routine: working from home is difficult and you are bound to get lazy every once in a while but make a strict routine for yourself and stick to it as much as possible. Maybe you can even reward yourself once you continuously stick to a routine for continuous 21days! 
  • Spend time relaxing: take time out to do the things you enjoy or look forward in your day. Even if you are working a 9hour shift from your home always make sure you schedule breaks in between your appointments/meetings/presentation/class. Keeping buffer time in between helps you energize and be prepared for the next thing to kick in. 
  • Get the basics right: eat sensibly and healthy, get regular exercise and keep active, sleep well to restore your body, drink plenty of water and make sure to get fresh air and sun.

Observe how your mood and thoughts are directed towards during your day and how your energy levels. If you feel you are experiencing more negative thoughts than usual or your energy is not how it used to be and even the above day to day strategies are not working out for you then seek additional help from a therapist or psychologist. 

Have you heard of Lockdown Fatigue?

Fatigue is described as a feeling of being extremely tired or lacking energy. As per the day today, we are 9 months into the pandemic in India and many changes have taken place in our lives from when the lockdown was first declared. 

Australian psychological association mentions that lockdown fatigue worldwide is described as a state of exhaustion caused by the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the changes it has caused to every aspect of our life. It is a state experienced when people have had to come to terms with a virus that has affected every aspect of their life, including their freedom, and which has continued for months, sometimes with no end in sight until a vaccine or treatment is discovered. 

Lockdown fatigue has indeed led to psychological exhaustion. To better understand lockdown fatigue, think of it in a way that a student has exams extended to up to 2months, then eventually what will happen is the student’s mental capacity to study and concentrate for a prolonged period will deteriorate and he’ll end up putting in fewer efforts due to the exhaustion. Similarly, what is happening now with everyone is that a level of psychological exhaustion has reached which is causing mental breakdowns, more carelessness with precautions, emotional outbursts, anxiety and depressive symptoms. No one thought when the pandemic hit us early this year, we’ll still be dealing with its fallout and these fallouts have a long repair journey to follow. 

The lockdown fatigue can be caused because of: 

  • Social and physical isolation
  • Curfews
  • Decreased work-life balance
  • Constant worry
  • Negative media
  • Self-isolation if unwell 
  • Blurry distinction between professional and personal life

All these are now a part of our everyday life causing fatigue. If you relate to what is described as lockdown fatigue here then look for extra help when you feel that you are battling with lockdown lack of energy, or with adapting to any part of COVID-19. In such a case a therapist is capable of helping. Therapists and psychologists are profoundly prepared and qualified experts talented in giving viable interventions for various psychological wellness concerns. 

Also, stayed tuned for Sage Advice’s next blog to know some home-friendly strategies to deal with lockdown fatigue. 

Self Care OCD

Obsessive-compulsive disorder can affect any age and gender. Being distressed with OCD involves visiting a psychiatrist and/or a psychologist for help but along with professional guidance, you can also take into account the following changes in your lifestyle to manage the anxiousness of OCD by yourself at home: 

  • Action plan to exercise: If you are someone who doesn’t usually indulge in exercise or meditation but has high anxiety levels due to obsessive and compulsive behaviors, it is essential for you to make an action plan to structure daily exercise or meditation goals in ascending order of time consumption. We cannot stress enough on the fact of how important routine exercise is for every psychological issue. Researchers have now and again evidenced the positive effects of exercise in reducing depression, anxiety and negative mood. 
  • Stay informed: Get your facts around OCD correct so it’s easier for you to identify, monitor and control symptoms as they occur during your day. Being well informed also helps in communicating the concerns to your therapists so it’s easier to work on the symptoms. 
  • Constructive coping strategies: Psychological problems bring with it a considerable amount of distress therefore it is important to strengthen the constructive coping strategies one uses to deal with stress. Some coping strategies that come handy during stressful times are planning, use of instrumental and emotional support, acceptance, religious coping, etc. 
  • Relaxation Techniques: Stress and anxiety associated with OCD justify the importance of relaxation strategies. Mindfulness meditation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation are well researched beneficial techniques. 
  • Avoid nicotine, alcohol and caffeine: Caffeine has a stimulating effect on our nervous system which further increases anxiety and OCD symptoms might worsen. On the other hand, alcohol and nicotine might help with a temporary reduction of anxiousness but you’ll end up feeling worse once the effect wears off.

Health is an important asset to humans and it should be taken care of at all costs. Take these self-help tips for OCD into practice along with professional help to see the difference and live a healthier life. 

Understanding Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Have you heard someone saying “I am a bit OCD”, “This just triggered my OCD”? Statements like these where mental disorders are used so casually give out the wrong idea of what Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder is. In India, approximately 0.6% of individuals suffer from OCD. OCD is a debilitating disorder which nearly affects every domain of a person’s life and can lead to vulnerability towards anxiety disorder, panic attacks and suicidal ideation. 

To clear the concept for you, we would like to mention that to diagnose OCD in an individual, they must have obsessions and compulsions which further impact their general functioning and one may not even realize how irrational they are. 

Obsessions are intrusive, repetitive and persistent thoughts, urges, or images that cause distress which is not successfully suppressed and compulsions are defined as the excessive and repetitive ritualistic behaviour that one feels they must perform which take up an hour or more per day, or something bad will happen. Obsessive thoughts produce anxiety and in return, an effort to reduce this anxiety is made by performing compulsive acts. Typical examples of OCD include hand washing, counting, silent mental rituals, checking door locks, etc. 

Having OCD may make you feel embarrassed and ashamed of the condition but treatment in case of OCD is effective. After the diagnosis is made, psychologists and psychiatrists usually work together to reduce symptoms using drugs and therapies like exposure response therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, flooding, implosive therapy, rational emotive behavioural therapy, etc. 

If you recognize an unwanted pattern of thoughts and compensating behaviours that follow those thoughts disturbing the quality of your life then it’s time for you to see a professional for diagnosis and treatment. 


Improving Mental Health of Elderly

What to do when your kids have grown and you are retired? Do your kids always have time to take out from their busy schedules? It’s mostly seen in Indian households that elders are facing boredom and risk toward depression which very often is overlooked or rather is ignored. Struggles with physical health can lead to mental health problems too thus its well said that a challenged brain is a healthy brain. Staying physically fit, socially active and mentally committed as one age is the key to a happy old age. Some to-do activities that Sage Advice counsellors suggest to be highly beneficial for elders are: 

Keep your social network active: initiate conversations when you are out on walks, stay connected to friends on social media and call relatives/friends often. 

Move your body: don’t let your body adapt to the lazy inactiveness that comes with old age instead keep it moving even if it is for 30minutes a day. Exercise, go for walks and do yoga whenever you get the time for it.

Look out for your attendance in family gatherings: sit with your family and enjoy the small gatherings.

Turn to a pet: if you are an animal lover, a pet can do wonders in making you feel loved and cared for. 

Spirituality helps: religious practices can offer emotional support to elders and devoting their time to religious practices keeps them peacefully occupied. 

Reminiscence therapy: this involves recounting the memories of the past that brings joy as elderly are fond of talking about their experiences as compared to news or gossip. 

India too as a country has few resources available for the mental health of elders. Funding and public health programs for them are also limited hence it becomes our responsibility to take good care of elders in our homes and spend time with them when we can. After all, they are the roots of our society. 

Difficulties faced by elderly

It is often said that the more ancient the thing gets, the more care it needs because it becomes more precious. This is certainly true for elders. They are the root of our society with wisdom and experiential knowledge to impart yet there are problems that elderly face today which are ignored by us. 

We want to highlight few of them so a better understanding of the problems they face can bring insight to our readers and perhaps a stronger bond can be developed with an elder at our home, workplaces and in the society: 

  • Feeling of being left out: Sometimes it so happens that elderly are not able to take an active part in activities which others enjoy due to their restricted movements and flexibility which might eventually make them feel left out and even experience the FOMO. 
  • Perceiving themselves as a burden: Old age is marked by health problems, loss of activeness and boredom. In such cases, the senior citizens would likely feel they are burdening their families financially, emotionally and physically.  
  • Feeling less valued: It is not always that our elders feel like a burden on us, sometimes with our busy routine and workload we end up ignoring their needs and limit spending time with them. The lack of care, love and support makes them feel less valued. 
  • Physical and psychological difficulties: In old age physical difficulties like inflexible motor movements, memory loss, cognitive deterioration and inability to do tasks they use to ease earlier. This collectively can lead to a lack of self-esteem and psychological difficulties. 

There is no day when the elderly do not curse their old age and fear their nearing death. The least they expect out of their younger generation is to be kind and considerate towards them. Follow Sage Advice’s blog to know how elders in your house maintain a positive and psychologically healthy old age. 

Role of Communication in Relationships

“Conversation should touch everything, but should concentrate itself on nothing.”

Oscar Wilde

Any and every kind of relationship in the world involves one important aspect- Communication. Its importance is underrated but truth to be told, effective communication is the true soul of a relationship. Communication is the key to many things such as language development, exchange of thoughts and ideas, becoming a good listener etc. Apart from this, it also helps in our well being and that can be explained by the following few points:

  • Getting a new perception: Opens us to a new point of view and a different approach towards those particular topics which are out of our arena.
  • Social support: We all have our good and bad days and while we do, we tend to look for someone who can listen to us and acknowledge our feelings.
  • Creativity: Debates and discussions open up a whole new world of ideas and your creativity sparks.

The importance of communication might be easy to understand, the difficulty arises in expressing ourselves. Here are a few tips to upscale your everyday communication skills:

  1. Availability: Be available for your dear ones when they are in need.
  2. Listening: This is what most people fail at. Listening is equally as important as speaking. Have the patience to actually listen to what the other person is saying and then give your insights.
  3. Eye contact: Maintaining a good and steady eye contact makes the other person feel you are paying attention to them.
  4. Reading: Regular reading can do wonders. It helps to grow your vocabulary immensely impacting the choice of your words.
  5. Pace: Neither too fast nor too slow, just the perfect pace. It helps the person in front to understand you better.
  6. Detailing as per requirement: Don’t roam around the bush, be specific and crisp about what you want to talk.
  7. Self-Awareness: Knowing yourself comes in handy when sensitive topics have to be conveyed as it makes you better understand how the topic of the conversation will affect you and thus, you’ll be in a better position to deal with it.
  8. Interests: Common interests are good for starters.
  9. Questions: Ask questions from time to time. It will show that you’re deeply engrossed in the conversation and thus involve the other person even more.
  10. Optimism: less cribbing is generally preferred by people. Have a positive attitude and more people will want to indulge in a conversation with you, might as well end up admiring you for your optimistic approach in life.

Menopause and Associated Concerns

Are you a woman in 40s and 50s who has irregular periods? Hot flashes? Irritable mood? Problems sleeping? Chills? Night sweats? Vaginal dryness? 

These symptoms are an indication of a naturally occurring biological process of menopause. Menopause marks the end of the menstrual cycle in females during their 40s-50s. It doesn’t occur overnight but rather is a gradual process and hence it is only diagnosed when you have been without periods for an entire year. Menopause is the time in a woman's life when the function of the ovaries ceases. As a result, she can no longer become pregnant. 

The average age of menopause is 51 years old, but menopause may occur as early as the 30s or as late as the 60s. There is no reliable lab test to predict when a woman will experience menopause. Symptoms described above usually occur during the perimenopausal period i.e. these may occur in the months or years leading to menopause. Skipping periods during perimenopause is common and expected. It is important to remember that each woman's experience is highly individual. 

Symptoms are caused due to less production of ovarian hormones like estrogen and progesterone as a woman gets older. In addition, during menopause, women may develop depressive symptoms and cognitive difficulties, which are more subtly and inconsistently linked to hormones. Depression and cognitive impairment can be burdensome for women and also add on to the already existing burden of medical illness for the ageing female population. As postmenopausal women are already at risk for osteoporosis and cardiovascular disease, it is important to address potentially changeable psychological issues that may make medical issues more difficult to treat. 

Treatments of menopause

Menopause is a natural process and is not a disease that requires treatment but the symptoms associated with it might be treated using various therapies and medications. Majorly, treatment methods are directed towards eliminating negative and distressing symptoms linked with menopause. Treatments are customised for each woman because every woman has a unique expression of symptoms therefore it becomes necessary to formulate treatment plans that work for each woman uniquely. In order to keep up healthy functioning during this time one should pay a visit to their therapist and physician for preventive health and mental care as well as any other medical concerns. 

COVID Depression

Is that even a thing? Unfortunately enough it is. The number of depression and anxiety cases is on a rise ever since pandemic hit us. Taking a toll on everyone’s mental health the danger of pandemic is still lingering over our heads. It is estimated that by the end of February, 50% of the population in India will be affected. Ever since the coronavirus hit us, the discussion has shifted to the mental health area now. Mental health is much more readily talked about these days. We at sage advice fear that along with this pandemic, a mental health epidemic might also be triggered in India. 

The worries of the wellbeing risk that the pandemic presents and the disastrous death toll it has caused, joined with social seclusion, an absence of our favourite hobbies, and uncertainty, are burdening for everybody. Pandemic has inflicted us to become inactive in our life. Lifestyle changes have mostly impacted the ones already having a mental health condition. 

Defining COVID Depression

What we mean by the term COVID Depression is the low mood phase that is triggered by the lockdown all over the country. When citizens are forced to stay inside their houses, especially the ones having an abusive environment, their mental sanity is challenged. Lack of physical warmth and intimacy are also being compromised which to some people is of high importance. This type of depression is termed as situational depression and as the situation subsides, the chances of returning to equilibrium are very high. When the problem is cut off at the cause, its effects don’t follow. 

Till the time we are stuck in the pandemic the importance of a healthy lifestyle is what sage advice emphasis upon. Small hacks like good sleep, fixed routine, 30mins walk, maintaining contact can do wonders for your health. You are not alone in this situation, all of us are together and staying mentally fit will help us pass through the crisis smoothly. 

Beating Depression

Don’t you hate when your friends are hanging out but your mind just won’t let you socialize? When you feel so fatigued that laying in bed is the only option? Aren’t these good enough reasons already to make the efforts towards beating depression?

Dr Shernaz rightly said that depression is common but a treatable disorder. Our lack of awareness and sometimes the careless attitude is preventing us from leading a mentally healthy life. Without conscious realization and awareness of what people go through when depressed, holds many back. 

People with depression experience emotional pain proportional to mental pain coupled with anxiety and stress development. Risk of psychological problems like these gives us all the more reason to not take depression lightly. One important point Dr Shernaz highlighted in the podcast was the concern of self-medication during this phase. Oh, I just need a drink and it’ll be alright or I’ll take a day off and binge, that’ll solve all my problems, are of course not constructive solutions of a deeply rooted problem. Recreational drugs are another concerning issuing which does more harm than good. 

Checklist to help your depressive mood

Even though professional help should be sought if low mood persists for more than 2 weeks, here’s a simple yet effective checklist for you to help maintain your sanity:

  • Sleep well 
  • Eat healthy food
  • Keep your body moving (go for walks or just try to follow a routine)
  • Take naps when you feel overwhelmed
  • Try to identify your triggers and avoid them till you process them well via therapy
  • Toxic people and situations should be a no-no for you
  • Making a safe space in your house for leisure activities will help process things better
  • Socialize with friends and family that bring you happiness
  • Some aromatherapy might help lift the mood (selectively works for people)
  • Attend therapy and take medication, if prescribed, regularly

These easy handy tips when used can lead to significant mood enhancement and will also help keep a track for your day to day activities. Any disruptions in your mood or routine can further be discussed with the psychologist at Sage Advice who are working towards your better life. 

Understanding Depression

How often do we tell our friends and families that we feel depressed today? Statements like I did not get that job I applied to make me feel so depressed, I am depressed because my boyfriend cheated on me, I feel blue today are regularly used. The use of a mental disorder like an adjective in our day to day life makes it essential for us to differentiate between depression and a blue/low mood.

Sooner or later in life due to circumstantial reasons, everyone feels blue but picks up the scattered pieces and gets back to work. What if you are not able to function well despite making the efforts? In our latest podcast series Dr Shernaz, a clinical psychologist of Sage Advice mentions that the rule of thumb for depression involves feelings of helplessness, hopelessness and worthlessness. If your “blue mood” phase lasts consistently for more than 2 weeks interfering with your sound functioning then you might be experiencing depression.

You should look for the following symptoms if low mood persists: 

  • Depressed mood most of the day (feeling sad, empty, hopeless)
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in all or most of the activities 
  • Changes in appetite or weight (increase or decrease)
  • Sleep disturbances (insomnia or hypersomnia) 
  • Psychomotor agitation
  • Loss of energy 
  • Feeling of worthlessness
  • Diminished ability to think or concentrate
  • Suicidal ideation or self-harm

Depression ranges from mild to severe. Sometimes when we feel low, we might also experience brief episodes of normal mood. If this persists for more than two years then a diagnosis of dysthymia is made by the professional which ranges from mild to moderate in intensity and differs from severe depression. Biochemical, environmental, genetic, social factors and personal stressors according to Dr Shernaz are risk factors for the development of depression. 

When would it be a good idea for you to see an expert? Keep a check on above-mentioned symptoms for yourself as well as your cherished ones. If they persist for a prolonged period while hampering your productivity and feel past self-repair at that point, it's the ideal opportunity for you to connect. The risk for suicidal ideation and self-harm can come up if the initial symptoms go unnoticed proficient assistance isn't sought.

Signs of gaslighting

Gaslighting is a psychologically manipulative technique to dominate another person into believing a different reality. Sometimes people may unintentionally or subconsciously gaslight another individual by lying and placing blame whereas few individuals who often use gaslighting to their advantage might be narcissistic (self-centred and believe they are always correct) and sociopaths (complete disregard for others emotions and rights). 

Here are signs to help you identify when gaslighting is taking place: 

  • Lying: The most basic sign of gaslighting is lying. They lie with so much confidence that you start to believe you must be wrong, “I was not having dinner with her. If you doubt me so much then check with my secretary”. Their lies take place so gradually and subtly that they don’t register well into your awareness. Smaller to bigger lies are commonly the path they follow.
  • Playing around with your insecurities: They use your insecurities and weaknesses against you instead of being sensitive about them, “you know you overthink all the time and exaggerate things”. 
  • Their words and actions do not match: They say something to you but go ahead and do something else. For a gaslighter, you must keep an eye on their actions rather than words because they can manipulate you with their words so perfectly, you won’t even realize you are being gaslighted. 
  • Give you false hope: Once you catch a lie they have been telling, they’ll make you believe that they’ll try to become a better version of themselves. That right there is what they want for you- for you to give them a chance now and again and again. 
  • Question your identity: They attack the areas you are proud of and happy about, to bring your confidence down, “Your work is not at all hectic compared to mine”. You start to feel unsure about your actions and thoughts around them.
  • Projecting: It is a psychological phenomenon where the person attributes their negative traits onto you making you look bad. This makes them blame for their wrongdoings on you. Though used as a defence mechanism by many people, projection is very commonly used for manipulating others too, “You are the one who always lies and makes everything worse”. 

If you recognize these signs then it’s time to be distant from the person whom you thought about while reading this blog. You should have relationships that help you grow and not bring you down. Add the ones that enhance your productivity and self-esteem into your life together with subtracting the ones who put you down. 

Gaslighting: A Manipulative Tactic

Husband calls his wife 10 times despite her phone being busy. She calls back immediately after the ending the previous call to let her husband know she had an urgent call hence couldn’t pick it up. Husband in turn furiously tells her how he feels unwanted and less of a priority in her life and if he was in her place, he would have picked up the call. 

Do you see what the problem with the situation is? Usually, when a person is busy, we tend to call back 15-20mins later instead of being impulsive like the husband in this scenario. Firstly, he acted impulsively and secondly, he blamed his wife instead of acknowledging that what he did isn’t appropriate social behavior. There’s a possibility of the wife feeling that she disappointed her husband and is not a good companion whereas, your commitment to a person doesn’t give him/her the right to consume all your time, we all have our boundaries and ways in which we maintain relationships. 

What is gaslighting?

What the husband did here is called gaslighting. Gaslighting is extensively talked about phenomena in relationships lately, it essentially implies psychologically manipulating the other individual into believing that it’s their fault and applying a prevailing control over them. The term comes from a 1944 film called Gaslight in which a husband tries to mentally manipulate his wife’s thoughts into making her believe that she is insane and her version of reality is not one. At times gaslighting is done so subtly and perfectly that the victim doesn’t even realize how much they have been manipulated.

Gaslighting can easily take the form of psychological abuse causing the person to lose their confidence as well as esteem and making you doubt your perception. Even though it is commonly seen in relationships but it can occur anywhere from a workplace to social gatherings. Follow Sage Advice’s next blog post to know about the signs of gaslighting.

A self help guide for anxiety

If you or any of your loved ones are suffering from anxiety then you probably recognize the apprehensive feeling that comes with it. This on-edge feeling disrupts our personal and professional standing. In order to deal with anxiety, the root cause has to be identified via self-work or professional help.

Self-work is something that is time-consuming and requires practice. Meanwhile, the remedies that are easy and self-indulgent during an anxiety attack are:

  • Square breathing: Consciously focus your breath onto an imaginary square. Inhale as you move from the left bottom corner of the square to the left top corner, hold the breath while you reach the top right corner from the top left corner. Slowly exhale as you imaginatively go towards the bottom right corner and again hold till you move to the bottom left. Repeat the process for 15minutes. Square breathing helps activate your parasympathetic nervous system that is responsible for maintaining balance in your body.
  • Grounding technique: Also referred to as the 5-4-3-2-1 technique. When you feel anxious, notice 5 things around you that you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can touch. This helps redirect your anxious thoughts to the present moment and helps focus on the here and now.
  • Meditation and Yoga: It is a well-researched fact that meditation and yoga are highly useful for anxiety sufferers as it helps to calm the mind and body which further is useful in the total integration of mind, body and spirit. Feeling of wholeness during meditation can cut down the negativity one feels leading to reduced tension and a better mood.
  • Mindfulness: It is a mental state where we are in total awareness of our surroundings and ourselves. We are present in the now, there’s no worry of the future nor rumination of the past. Mindfulness makes the person reflective rather than reactive as it teaches us better ways to handle challenging situations.
  • Relaxation techniques: These techniques are widely used by mental health professionals to relax the actively apprehensive body state. Relaxation techniques include a variety of forms like imagery, aromatherapy and progressive muscle relaxation. A relaxed body and mind are home for happy thoughts.

Along with these basic remedies, an anxiety sufferer must make some lifestyle changes like restricting alcohol and drugs use, smoking should be reduced, eat a balanced diet and include 15-20mins walk in your daily routine. 

Even though these techniques are useful with anxiety management but identification and management of anxiety triggers in the long run either yourself or by the help of a professional are beneficial in the long run.

Differentiate between anxiety attack and panic att

We are sure you too have come across a lot of people who wrongly use the words anxiety and panic. They are often interchangeably used. Do you know what differentiates anxiety from panic? When is it that someone is experiencing an anxiety attack and when a panic attack?

Well, we suggest you read further to gain more clarity. 

Panic attacks vs anxiety

Panic attacks are intense and unexpectedly sudden characterized by a spurt of anxiety whereas, anxiety attacks are followed by excessive worry related to perceived stress in our environment. The main difference between the two is that panic attacks do not have a specific trigger, they occur out of the blue but anxiety attacks are associated usually with a known trigger. 


Physical symptoms of both anxiety and panic attacks are similar which includes: 

  • Heart palpitations
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Dry mouth
  • Sweating
  • Chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tightening of throat
  • Shaking
  • Numbness
  • Headache
  • Nausea. 

Fear, distress and restlessness together are the emotional symptoms marking anxiety and panic attacks. Additionally, fear of dying or losing control and a sense of detachment from oneself as well as the surrounding is seen in panic attacks.


A panic attack reaches its peak after 10minutes of the onset but an anxiety attack develops gradually as one goes on with their day to day activities. Panic attacks are more intense as compared to anxiety attacks. Another distinguishing feature of a panic attack is that after an individual experiences the first panic attack they are preoccupied with the thoughts of having another one which may affect one’s conduct, driving them to maintain a strategic distance from spots or circumstances where they figure they may be in danger of experiencing another attack. Once panic attacks start to occur more frequently, it may develop into a panic disorder. 

To reach an appropriate diagnosis of whether one is experiencing a panic attack or an anxiety attack it is necessary to visit a clinical psychologist. Diagnosis is based on the symptoms criteria as per the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. To diagnose any of these, the psychologist discusses your symptoms and performs psychological evaluations so the symptoms can be fitted into a category for further interventions to take place. Anxiety and panic attacks are treatable using therapies and relaxation techniques. 

What is it like to be anxious?

Living in a challenging environment, we are sure that most of you have faced apprehension during difficult life situations. When one experiences uneasiness and irrational fear regarding an object, place, event or situation, we say the person is anxious which is a completely normal reaction to distress and an appropriate amount of manageable anxiety can help cope with stressors but if these feelings prolong for a longer period of time the risk of developing at anxiety disorder kicks in. A wide range of anxiety disorders is classified, depending upon the symptoms an individual has, which include generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, agoraphobia, etc. 


Anxiety Statistics

The National Mental Health Survey conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in 2015-2016, indicates that the total prevalence of anxiety disorders in India amounts to 3.1 percent of the population which appears to be higher in females than males. 


Anxiety and us

When someone close to us tells us they are feeling anxious, what exactly comes to your mind? What this person means is physically they are experiencing heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, restlessness, nauseous, dizzy, appetite changes coupled with other bodily tensions and aches. Whereas, mentally they mean poor concentration, reduced decision making, confused state of mind, apprehension, constantly watching for signs of danger and anticipating the worst. These symptoms vary from person to person and situation to situation. 


An anxious person may not be consistent with his best self, so its important that we be sensitive to the ones who are suffering and if it’s you who’s suffering then it’s time to take the first step. Whenever anxiety starts interfering with mental well-being, we encourage you to look for proficient assistance capable enough to deal with concerning problems. Get in touch with a counsellor at Sage Advice for professional help. 

Can you be obsessed with reading?

Reading is an escape for so many of us, it is a simple yet essential part of their life. Reading newspapers for knowledge, magazines for fun, textbooks to study and novels for our enjoyment are all ways in which we incorporate reading into our lives. Reading, being a beautiful habit can also turn into an obsession. We feel sad that something so powerfully helpful can also play a part in damaging our psychological health. 


One of SageAdvice’s callers in the podcast ‘Coping with COVID’ shared with us his story on obsession with reading. He mentioned how he has been sitting at home and reading for as long as 15-18hours per day. His story made us wonder if what he is dealing with is not reading as a hobby but reading in the form of obsessive reading disorder. Obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD is when a person has obsessive thoughts and performs compulsive actions to get rid of those thoughts and if these actions aren’t performed, they feel uneasy. OCD can take many forms and Obsessive reading disorder is one of them. 

Reading as a manifestation of OCD

Anxiety can manifest itself in the form of obsessive reading disorder in a person. Repetitive actions surrounding obsessive thoughts vary from person to person, few might reread whereas others might stop reading anything at all. There are many ways in which reading OCD symptoms are seen in individuals. Fear of not understanding everything or fear of not knowing everything are common ones underlying this disorder. Excessive worry, not getting things done on time, occupational issues, relationship issues, etc. are few psychological damages that reading OCD brings with it. 

You find yourself relating to this article? According to us, the best way to manage reading OCD is to read with a time limit which can gradually be decreased and stopping whenever the time limit asks you to. If you are unable to manage your reading OCD yourself then consulting a psychologist who will use exposure and response prevention with you will be the best way to proceed.  

Being an Introvert: Pros and Cons

Do you think a lot before approaching and talking to someone? Do you prefer not talking and being with yourself most of the time? If this is the case then you are an introvert. If you aren’t already familiar with that term, let me tell you it’s nothing to worry about.

Introverts are generally perceived as people who are arrogant, shy, lonely, boring or unapproachable. You must have noticed them being ridiculed and side-lined by people, who address them like:

‘Why are you alone all the time, don’t you have any friends?’

‘Don’t be so boring.’

‘Why do you have so much attitude that you won’t even talk to people around you?’

These taunts or so called productive “advice” that people give to their introverted friends to point out the wrong actually makes them feel like their lifestyle is seriously faulty and a change in them is needed but for what? To live up to the pseudo standards set by random people, who just happen to talk and socialize more than introverts.

These presumptions about being an introvert are actually not true. Introvert is like any other personality type which has its own pros and cons.

Some unknown pros and widely accepted cons are:


  • They are at peace most of the time, away from the small talks and melodrama.
  • They get to spend a lot of time with themselves which to be honest, is the most underrated past-time and is extremely important for self growth.
  • They are generally great listeners and are capable of observing things more keenly.
  • They chose their words carefully and that is a trait which everyone should learn.


  • They might sometimes get sidelined from social gatherings, giving them the feeling of worthlessness and affecting their self-confidence.
  • They might struggle to increase their networks.
  • They mostly get labelled as full of arrogance and being pretentious hence often misunderstood.
  • They might face difficulties being a part of a profession that requires public dealing. 

The list of pros and cons can go on and on but one thing which we all need to understand is that no one personality is better than another. Every person is beautiful in his own way and should lead his life accepting who he is and above all, being happy with it!

Are you confusing self care with these?

We understand that self care is a daily practice that is conscious, deliberate and intentional. Indulging into these daily practises helps us keep our emotional, mental and physical state in balance but nowadays self care is confused with a lot of practices that people indulge into thinking to be acts of self care. 

What is not self care, u ask? Self care is not all those things that you won't enjoy doing or end up making you feel worse. Self care is an act of refuelling us not taking it away from us. Let's get down to burst 5 commonly known myths about self care-

MYTH- Self care is exhausting ourselves in order to please others. So, what if it makes me a little uncomfortable, I am still being a helpful person which is good.

Truth- Few anxiously attached people feel that extending themselves for others in times of need, even when they themselves aren't comfortable, is a self care act. We are not denying that it's a good gesture but you indulging into it at the cost of your comfort is definitely not the idea of SELF care. Self care teaches you to say no and protects your comfort whenever necessary. Be helpful to others but not by compromising your mental peace.

MYTH- Self care is retail therapy on a bad day. Money isn't a superior factor to my peace of mind.

Truth- Self care also involves your financial well-being. If your retail therapy ends up digging a hole in your pocket and you eventually start thinking  "maybe I went a little crazy with shopping today" or "I spent more than I should have'' then it's not self care but you forming a destructive association between shopping and a bad day. Now if shopping makes you feel good, it's okay to once in a while get those denims you wanted for a long time but all you have to take care of is to not make retail therapy a permanent solution to your bad mood.

MYTH- Self care is grabbing my favourite snacks and making my day worth it. I deserve it after all.

Truth- When it comes to self care it means treating yourself well not with food that you will eventually regret eating or will make you feel nauseous. Treating yourself doesn't involve binge eating all day long but slipping yourself some comfort food once in a while in an appropriate amount that doesn't make you regret the number of calories you consumed. Mindless snacking is never good for us.

MYTH- Self care is excessive exercise to make my appearance attractive.

Truth- Today's young adult population romanticizes the thin slim beauty ideal for females and a muscular fit one for males. In order to achieve these and comply with society's beauty ideal norms we exhaust ourselves with excessive workouts that at times are beyond our limits and leave our body in pain. While daily exercises and yoga is ofcourse a very effective way of self care but too much of it is counter-productive. Know your body, know your limits!

MYTH- Self care is not isolating yourself from healthy relationships in the name of boundaries.

Truth- We understand how important setting boundaries are and how much it helps you get back on track by giving you some alone time to refresh yourself but being continuously reserved and self isolation is not a part of it. Setting boundaries has the potential to go far and isolate yourself from social connections in non-constructive ways. We are social beings and socialising helps with maintaining our optimal health. Sometimes restricting the external stressors and burdens of social relationships while you just "netflix and chill'' is very tempting but giving in to this impulse can be a mistake. Set boundaries but know when and who to let in.

We can easily confuse self care with some not-so-self care acts and it becomes necessary for us to keep a check on what we do, how we do it and what it makes us feel. Things that you enjoy doing can be well incorporated into your to do self care routine but the ones that eventually are not constructive for you can stay out of your feel good list. Choose your self care routine mindfully. 

Impact of negative media on suicide

Stats on Suicide

In 2019, India alone reported over 1.39 lakh cases of suicide, out of which, over 90 thousand were committed by youngsters, according to the latest data which was released by National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB). 

Compared to the previous year, we have seen a jump of 4% in the cases. Of the youngsters who took their life, 7% were struggling with some form of mental health issue. We can clearly see the statistics don’t look good and the stigma attached to mental health in our country does not make it any better when it comes to seeking help. 

Suicide and it's impact

In the recent media trend, we have an increasing evidence of sensationalizing and glamorising the act of suicide. What follows is a negative impact on the minds of adolescents, and a chain of copycat suicides. A copycat suicide is imitating suicidal behaviour which occurs after one has been exposed to the explicit details of a suicide, usually in media. Media is also responsible of inaccurately giving out information about suicide, often simplifying the reason, when in reality it is far more complicated. 

Research has found evidence that in Asian countries particularly, the portrayal of suicide in the media is far more graphic and detailed than in other countries. A recent example of this is the case of Sushant Singh Rajput, who has been in the news for over 3 months, with very little explicit detail about his suicide being exposed on television, along with various theories behind the same, which ultimately serves as a trigger. A number of copycat suicides followed after the demise of the actor. 

By careless portrayal of suicide, media is contributing to the increase in the stigma around mental health, since it does not provide help-seeking information, only ambiguous and graphic details. 

For these reasons improving the way these cases are reported in the media is necessary, which can be a big step in suicide prevention. Concrete guidelines should be provided about what and how information should be presented nationally. Keeping in mind the power media holds over people in this day and age, sensitivity and conscientious ways of providing information can help in destigmatising mental health. 

Coping with COVID

Our lives changed after the first coronavirus case was confirmed in January 2020 in India. This deadly virus, as it is rightfully called, has induced fear of getting infected and forced us to stay locked up inside our houses for good two months. Eventually, when few started getting out because the work was suffering, we noticed either the thought of getting infected themselves and putting their loved ones at risk or other’s being hesitant to meet them was stopping most from living their usual social life. 

Guess going out wearing masks, social distancing and repeatedly keeping a check on basic hygiene has now become the new normal and trust us when we say this, it’s here to stay for a while so we have to be prepared. 

Researches have noticed disturbances in the social, personal and occupational functioning of the people during the lockdown period. Anxiety, depressive mood, laziness, procrastination, lethargy and sleep disturbances have risen as Dr. Pallavi and Inderjit discuss in our podcast on COVID-19. 

The question that arises now is- how to settle into the new normal?

  • Maintain your social circle virtually: Social support reduces our stress levels and helps boost positive emotions in us. Being in contact with your loved ones gives us the necessary emotional support we need nowadays. 
  • Strike the perfect work-life balance for yourself: Everyone has different work and bodily demands, find out what works best for you and draw clear boundaries between what are your working hours and what amount of time is for you. 
  • Keep your sleep cycle in mind too: Getting enough sleep so you wake up well-rested will add to your productivity at the job front as well as maintain your mental health. a disturbed sleep cycle makes us more vulnerable to outside stressors which during the reign of coronavirus can be fatal. 
  • Experiment with mindfulness techniques that work for you: They are effective in giving rise to our feel-good hormones and improving mental health. You can experiment with journaling your day, writing things you are grateful for, affirmations and journaling your emotions throughout the day/week. Anything that works for you can be inculcated into your daily life. 
  • Fit and fine: Exercise or practice yoga regularly to keep your body active and stress levels down. Exercising has a great impact on our mood keeping anxious and depressive thoughts away. 

Choose a combination of things that are feasible to fit into your routine and beat those coronavirus blues! 

Mental health: Difference in understanding by current and previous generation

What does the term mental health mean to you? Does it hold the same meaning for your parents? Have you ever discussed mental health issues with your parents? 

In India, this simple term carries with itself a humongous amount of social stigma. Most adults would likely answer the last question with a “no”. Wondering why?  

Young adults, who practically have lives revolving around social media are aware of concepts related to mental health and mental illness. Stigma attached to mental illness and the very famous “log kya kahenge” has been holding many back from seeking help. Parents too sometimes fail to offer support concerning mental illness and instead make remarks like “it’s all in your mind”, “you’re completely fine, just get some rest”, etc. 

We all know how stressful these times have become with all kinds of pressures ranging from academic performance, relationship issues, resorting to societal norms, mental trauma due to some kind of harassment, don’t we? 

Previous generations never had enough exposure to mental health as compared to the current generation. Understanding and educating yourself about mental health and accepting the fact that it must be hard for the previous generations to know/learn about this relatively new thing is the first step towards raising awareness. Only then can you start making them understand the various aspects of mental health and slowly remove the social stigma around it.

How can you help?

We understand dealing with it can be a task but making the previous generation comfortable with mental health is necessary because they’re your ultimate support system and having them by your side will give you strength. Let’s just take it step by step and here’s how you can start: 

  • Frequently discuss mental health and related illnesses with your parents to broaden their perspective 
  • Use movies to make them understand the concepts better and in a more realistic manner 
  • As they become more aware and comfortable with it, you can discuss the hardships in your life with them
  • Make them read blogs or send them small articles addressing issues of mental health

Mental health is surely the least talked about health issue today and needs many unashamed conversations before the stigma detaches from the name.

Mental health crisis: pandemic edition

Updates on the pandemic

As of 8th September’20, there are 8,83,697 active cases of COVID-19 in India. Despite months of lockdown, the numbers are not controlled. Even with mask-wearing and social distancing being made compulsory throughout the country, the situation is not looking good.

Today's reality: Mental Health Crisis

It seems everyone is competing to survive till everything comes to a destructive end. Our mind is also betraying us by turning into its own worst enemy. Sounds like a movie plot, right? Sadly, it's the reality of our times. All this is playing havoc with our minds and affecting our mental health.

The mental health crisis is a concerning area that has resulted from this sudden wave of coronavirus. From isolation to fatigue to anxiety to abuse, COVID-19 has touched every area of life. Social isolation and stress arising from the uncertainty of the situation have bred a sense of boredom and frustration which are manifesting in the form of symptoms of mental disorders and an increased suicide rate. Sage Advice counsellors have reported that 80% of people who are contacting them for counselling are suffering from problems that have arisen from isolation because of the pandemic. This pandemic has triggered mental health issues globally.

Shift in the importance of mental health

We are relieved to see the attention mental health is finally getting. People have started to become more aware of their mental issues and are making more efforts to seek help before things get out of hand. If you are one of those who are still struggling to get help, take the first step and we are here to guide you through the rest. We, at Sage Advice, have the best counsellors to collaboratively help you get better.

Why are you so hard on yourself?

Sometimes, our worst critics aren’t others, but we ourselves. There is a fine line between self-discipline and challenging yourself to improve and being overly self-critical. Don’t know when you are being a bit too hard on yourself? Look for these signs to gain some clarity:

1. You blame yourself for things that are out of your control. It’s good to own up to your mistakes and take complete responsibility, but sometimes things are not in your control. When something doesn’t go the way you planned, you start beating yourself up about it, even though you cannot alter the outcome. You got rejected in a job interview? Doesn’t mean you are not good enough but what you can do here is prepare better for the next opportunity that comes your way.

2. You focus on the unaccomplished. It’s great to be ambitious and actively work to improve the skills you require to achieve your goal, but if you start comparing your success to someone else’s, it quickly leads to a feeling of disappointment with oneself and dejection. Focusing on something which you couldn’t achieve, instead of all the things you did, you forget to appreciate your own journey and to celebrate the milestones along the way. Remember, everybody grows at a different pace and to move at your own pace is perfectly alright. Pause to reflect and correct but not criticize your own grand journey!

3. You avoid difficult challenges in order to steer clear from failures. Never stepping out of your comfort zone and taking up challenges because you fear that you might fail, can hold you back from opportunities of advancement. One needs to realize it’s okay to fail sometimes in order to grow stronger from the experience. Remember, to stretch and strive for what requires stepping up your game is often a great learning experience and to fail once in a while is perfectly normal.

4. You dwell on the mistakes you make. Reflect on your mistakes instead of dwelling on them, and see them as an opportunity to learn. Allowing yourself to move on and not keep ruminating over your mistakes is the first step in recognizing the motivation behind making amends and avoiding similar errors in the future. Oftentimes, mulling over mistakes is nothing but procrastination, try and avoid falling into that trap!

5. You rarely give yourself a break. Putting excessive pressure on yourself, in order to perfect your work will only make you feel worse. Not only that, you also begin to perform poorly. Sometimes, it’s good to take a step back and focus on the big picture. It’s important to slow down. A pause is often the space you create that allows fresh inspiration and renewed energy to fill you.

6. You often partake in negative self-talk. It’s tough for you to take compliments. When somebody compliments you, it contradicts what you have been telling yourself internally and therefore your initial reaction is to shoot down the compliment. Whenever that happens, catch yourself, smile, and accept it gracefully. Find moments where you feel genuinely proud of your battle scars and achievements.

We often think that if we want to learn and improve, the only way forward is to be strict with oneself. This thought isn’t so easily abandoned, but with enough practice, it can be better managed and questioned each time we are not so kind to ourselves. It’s paramount to keep reminding oneself to relax, let the hair down every once in a while, celebrate small victories, take some risks, fall and fail too, yet stand up again with renewed confidence and self-belief. Remember, perfection is a myth and beautiful, content lives are a sum total of tiny imperfect moments.

Power of Thoughts

These are unprecedented times and understandably, worrisome for a lot of people. In India itself, the virus is spreading like wildfire and this certainly requires all of us to take all necessary precautions.

COVID and our reactions

We shared one such story in our podcast recently. In the episode, ‘Window In The Door’ (, psychologist Dr. Neeru Katyal Gupta who contracted COVID-19, discussed her recovery path from this deadly viral disease.

The immediate reaction if one tests positive for COVID-19 is panic but the initial most important thing to do is to accept the situation. It is rightly said that acceptance is the first step towards happiness as only then will you be able to think calmly and move ahead in your journey towards recovery, isn’t it?

Take control of your thoughts

We all know that appropriate medicines and right nutrition speed up one’s recovery but the role played by our cognition is often overlooked. Strong will power, perseverance and patience can do unimaginable wonders for a person. You may be mildly ill yet be able to perform your daily activities but if you are pessimistic about your recovery, it will be months before you’re completely fine. On the other hand, you may be on your deathbed with barely any hope of survival but if you have the will to fight, the miracle of recovery won’t be far. The human brain is a powerful weapon, indeed!

Our brain is just like a computer, whatever command we give, it processes and gets our body to function accordingly. A simple scientific experiment for you to try: Before going to bed one night, tell yourself (rather, instruct your brain), “I have to wake up at 6am tomorrow, no matter what, I just have to!” Don’t set any alarm. You will be pleasantly surprised the next morning. Your brain will wake you up exactly at 6am.

You should be the one controlling your brain and not the other way round and YOU CAN! Get in touch with Sage Advice counsellors to learn how to take charge of your life.

COVID-19 BLUES: Internship, music and introspection

Guess what unites the world in 2020? Yes, you are right! It’s the ongoing pandemic that has become the reason for uncertainty in our lives. Even before the pandemic, it was tough for some people to deal with stressful uncertainties and COVID has just added more weight to our lives. There’s uncertainty, fatigue, lack of decision making, the pressure to be productive, rules, regulations and plenty more that restricts the freedom we used to enjoy in the pre-COVID-19 era. Don’t we all just miss life as it was?

Our experience: Zoya and Siddharth

Zoya and Siddharth in our podcast on COVID-19, mentioned that initially the restriction on meeting friends and the compulsion of wearing masks in public were big changes that overwhelmed a lot of us and paranoia struck a large part of the population.

Living the new normal

The virus is deadly but as time settled, studies and work took a safer path via virtual platforms and people have started living according to the ‘new normal’ or as Inderjit in a lighter vein, said in our podcast, “This journey has been like shifting from hard rock to romantic soft songs”.

People, especially, students are seeing this time as a great opportunity to introspect, and visit old hobbies, rediscover their talents and hone their skills through online courses and internships. Some are using this time to forge deeper bonds with family members by spending quality time together. We would be speaking for many if we were to say that people have tried to utilize this time of lockdown and uncertainty in the best way possible.

Some tips to help you stay positive and motivated during this time of uncertainty

  • Make a routine for yourself. It’ll keep you on track.
  • Practice mindfulness. Be aware and present at the moment.
  • Meditate, exercise or do yoga, whatever suits you, in order to keep the serotonin in your body moving.
  •  Make self-expression and self-love your new best friends.
  • If need be, connect with a therapist/counsellor. Sage Advice counsellors are very accessible and ready to help you in any way they can.

We understand that this pandemic is no less than a roller coaster ride but we are in this together.

Social media and gaming addiction

How do you feel when you hear conversations about those who are hooked onto their phone or laptop screens all day long scrolling through social media? Do you catch yourself thinking that you do the same? You do? Then my friend, you might be addicted to social media. This can be a direct outcome of the FOMO - ‘fear of missing out’.

The harm social media and gaming brings with it

Social media creates a sense of belongingness and redefines our way of being but harmful effects of social media addiction are not worth the price. This addiction results in restlessness and contributes towards declining psychological health and physical interaction as well as communication with people in your life.

The ongoing trend of gaming has largely contributed to this addiction. Gaming is a conditioned pleasurable act, if not done mindfully can make you lose control in terms of time, effort and sometimes money too.

Vedant, the medical student introduced in our podcast, mentions that games require a certain level of intelligence. Games also help cope with anxiety, depression, stress and anger mentions Siddharth from his personal experience in gaming. When we play games, dopamine (the feel-good hormone) makes gaming a pleasurable act for us but gives us more reasons to believe how easily one can get addicted to it.

Video games are filling an empty void during this pandemic but they are also distancing you from the real world. Excessive screen time while playing games or scrolling through social media takes a toll on your mental health leaving you more agitated. We aren’t telling you that gaming is bad but its addiction is.

Looking for some addiction management tips?

Wondering how to strike the perfect game-life balance? We recommend you follow this wonderful tip that helps Siddharth manage his game time- Set an hour or an hour and a half’s timer for one gaming session. This will help you analyse and regulate your gaming hours per day. For young children, parents should supervise their screen time and gaming hours.

Game or no game, you decide. All we advise is draw the line where your mental health is compromised.