“Anxiety can make you feel overwhelmed, even with your simplest tasks. Breathe. Take small steps at a time. You’ve got this.” – Karen Salmansohn
Culture shock can be loosely translated as disorientation experienced by an individual when they are suddenly exposed to an unfamiliar culture, way of life, or set of circumstances and attitudes. Culture shock can cause many mental health-related issues such as feelings of helplessness, anxiety, or trust and intimacy issues.
Nandini, a 21-year-old student, started experiencing these symptoms during her academic life at the prestigious University of Delhi. Nandini started to feel lost and it impacted her mental health badly. Nandini describes herself as a very bright student when she was in school and how she was an all-rounder during her school time at Kolkata. But after coming to Delhi for her graduate studies, she began to realise how coming to a new city and studying a new subject has made her less productive and had taken a toll on her overall mental health.
“I was afraid to open up because I had a fear of being judged.”
Nandini recalls her worst experience of anxiety when she was in her third year and did not want to appear for one of the papers, despite being prepared for the exam. Fear of failure had made her extremely anxious and it led to a lack of concentration. As Nandini thought to herself that being unfocused and stressed out is disrupting her routine, is when she decided to reach out to YourDOST. Initially, Nandini had a misconception about therapy and counselling as she thought therapy is a mere practice to treat ‘mentally disabled people’, but when she reached out to YourDOST, her misconceptions were at the bay and she started her sessions with YourDOST expert, Ms. Nikita Agarwal.
As Nandini’s first session began, she was naturally very shy and could not open up easily but after Nikita made her feel comfortable and established a rapport with her, Nandini started expressing and sharing her thoughts and feelings. Nikita’s empathetic approach towards Nandini helped her a lot to open up and talk.
As Nandini rightly said, “Fear stems from overthinking and underestimation.”
Nikita guided Nandini on how physical health and mental health are correlated and so, advised her to focus on her breathing by breathing exercises to calm her down. Nikita also advised Nandini to maintain a thought journal, where whenever Nandini felt overwhelmed and began to get negative thoughts, she should write them down and later examine how she can improve these into more positive thoughts.
Putting conscious thoughts and exercising automatic thoughts can help the brain unwind from the chaos and help in reinforcing the positive thoughts. This shift from negative thoughts to positive thoughts can take some time to occur naturally, but Nandini did not quit and continued to practice these, even now.
“I had decided not to appear for the Masters’ entrance exam but therapy made me calm and helped in reducing my panic attacks.”
After a six-month-long therapy session, Nandini was able to take an entrance test for her Master’s study and is grateful to YourDOST and Nikita, who helped her throughout her journey of discovering and re-engineering herself. Nandini now takes time to process thought and can remove any negative thoughts before it begins to control her mind and activities.
Thanks to the counselling sessions, Nandini now is a self-confident person and feels pride in being able to tackle any difficult situation that may come to her.
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