Listen to this article
Popular TV celeb Hina Khan shared a mirror selfie of her ‘work-in-progress body’ on Instagram and wrote “Had put on some kilos in these months for obvious reasons and I really did not pay attention to how many kilos I put on… My mental health was way more important and I just wanted to be, and wanted to do things that make me happy.”
She added, “Sometimes, let yourself be, enjoy the little things. Do what you like without thinking about what people will say or how I am looking. After all, one needs to be in the right frame of mind to do anything in life. And I chose mental health, my well-being, over my physical appearance.”
Her post has raised some pertinent questions about the importance of mental health over physical appearance, more so during the pandemic. The past year and a half has been particularly hard, with stringent lockdowns and being isolated at home. But with things opening up slowly and steadily, the focus is on getting life back on track.
To gain a better perspective on this, we got in touch with Preeta Ganguli, a trauma-informed therapist, and mental wellness consultant. Here’s what she shared with HealthShots, “The relationship between exercise, fitness, and mental health is very intertwined. We often speak of mental and physical health as very different concepts but they are of course interdependent.”
There is intense pressure to look a certain way today, what with most B-town celebrities and social media influencers flaunting the perfectly chiseled body. But exercise is important for many more important reasons than just your physical appearance.
“While most of us know that being physically active is important for our physical and mental well-being, often the association we have is the need to do that exercise to look a certain way, and that can add immense amounts of pressure and stress,” says Ganguli.
She adds that it is important to sit with and look at what is coming up for us, and seek appropriate support in processing and healing those painful associations when we are ready.
In the past, Bollywood actress Priyanka Chopra has opened up about her experience with body shaming. In fact, her words have truly served as an example for many young women, who try and do everything possible to look like their favourite stars.
“There is such a false perception about what women should look like and what our bodies should look like. Especially when you are in the (film) business, you put on a couple of pounds and people are like..body shaming you. It happens. Christmas happens to all of us. I am an Indian. I have Holi, I have Diwali, I have a hundred holidays and my body fluctuates and you know what… I am fine with it,” she had said.
Dabbang actress Sonakshi Sinha has been candid about it too, “If anybody has been targeted for being a certain way, it’s me. But I don’t let it get to me. I know what is more important is that I project a healthy body image for girls who look up to me. Tomorrow if I become skinny, what’s the point? I won’t be able to work well. I’ll fall sick all the time. I know that’s not my body structure, not my body type.”
Ganguli suggests, “It is necessary to keep checking in with the body; give it rest when it needs it, and some activity when it needs it. Building a relationship with the body is what I would focus on starting with. Listen to it, and honour its needs. It knows what it wants and needs, so follow its lead and give it space to speak. “
She concludes by saying that it is completely fine to take a break from an active lifestyle once in a while, when the body and mind need rest.
“What is important is to find balance, and that can look different for each one of us,” adds Ganguli.