by Karuna Antani, Public Mental Health Professional
Music has been a part of my identity for as long as I can remember. I grew up dancing and singing, and then became formally trained as well. This was always my outlet. On weekdays I went to school and on weekends I went to my Kathak and classical Hindustani singing classes-- where I felt like my authentic self. Adulthood always changes these relationships. Once one leaves for college, sure they can join dance teams and singing groups, but at least for me this never felt the same. I had an on-and-off relationship with singing and dance after leaving high school, which coincided with a period of depression. When I came back to my hometown for graduate school, I started reconnecting with myself again. I asked myself - What truly makes me happy?
Then around the age of 23, I started dancing and working out with Doonya Bollywood Fitness and eventually became an instructor. This program connected me back to my roots and it lets me unabashedly express my love for Indian culture. I also started a page on Instagram, Reel to Runa, where I could talk about my love for music, movies, singing, and dance. Though I still struggled with mental health issues like anxiousness, I started going to therapy which helped tremendously. My therapist essentially prescribed me with the activities of yoga, music, and dance for my mental well-being.
As a public health professional concentrating on mental health, I try to be mindful of what activities help nourish my well-being. We are all in the phase of languishing right now with people getting vaccinated and interacting with others again as COVID19 numbers go down. Languishing essentially refers to the feeling of being in between flourishing and depression. Last year I lost touch with many of my self-care activities like dance and yoga again, because of the lack of in-person classes. I slowly started taking Doonya classes digitally, but the process is ongoing to get back to my pre-pandemic, improved mental health state.
Figure out what works for you. What are you passionate about? What do you genuinely love doing, that is also healthy for your body and mind? It's sometimes hard to figure this out. One method is to take various classes around town, such as dance, pilates, yoga, boxing, HIIT, and more. Explore your own interests and find what recharges you!