Exclusive: Storytelling can be a perfect healer for mental health issues, says life coach Sudhanshu Rai

With discussions and debates on the importance of mental health catching up fast in these testing times, Storyteller, Life Coach and Motivational Speaker, Sudhanshu Rai in an interview with Zee News Digital, opened up on how to deal with stress, depression. He also talked about how reading and sharing play a vital role in maintaining sound mental health.

Exclusive: Storytelling can be a perfect healer for mental health issues, says life coach Sudhanshu Rai

New Delhi: With discussions and debates on the importance of mental health catching up fast in these testing times, Storyteller, Life Coach and Motivational Speaker, Sudhanshu Rai in an interview with Zee News Digital, opened up on how to deal with stress, depression. He also talked about how reading and sharing play a vital role in maintaining sound mental health.

Excerpts from the interview:

Q. In the current times, how to keep a check on mental health?

A. The prevailing scenario around us has posed some grave challenges, and it’s more important now than ever that we pay adequate attention to it. The first step that we need to take is to bring some instrumental and behavioural changes in our lives. These changes can be pertaining to our eating habits, music that we listen, workouts that we do, the inner ambience of our homes etc.

Once the new routine is in place, we need to try and identify the activity or hobby that interests us the most as an individual and make it a part of our daily ritual. Pursuing a hobby gives satisfaction to inner soul and keeps us engaged creatively. It is an old but true saying, ‘empty mind is devil’s workshop’. There should be a deliberate effort to remain busy. For instance, we can pursue gardening or plantation, as it would keep us close to nature. Remember, it is a must to be as close to nature as possible for mental health.

Apart from these, we can make use of sound therapy, considering the fact that sound is intrinsic to our self-being and plays a major role in the shaping of our mental health. It starts right with the air we inhale or exhale. The breathing pattern reflects our mental status and varies when we are in an aggressive mindset from when we are at ease. Some other effective sound therapy tools are humming/Bhramari, music, chanting etc. And last but never the least, meditation. Everyone must take out at least a few minutes each day for meditating in peace.

Q. What are easy ways to stay stress-free in a hectic life?

A. One such tool I already mentioned, i.e. sound therapy, which comprises breathing exercise. Moving beyond it, there is a need for every individual to get a perspective in life and define a long-term goal, instead of having a myopic foresight. This would again entail to bringing about behavioural changes in our day-to-day lives. Equally important is inculcating some knowledge sharing habits, such as reading blogs or books, indulging in healthy discussions about issues that impact our lives directly or indirectly.

The other simple way to tackle stress is being in constant and effective communication with our near and dear ones. You need to talk about the problems and difficulties you are facing with your near and dear ones. We need to follow the paths prescribed by motivated individuals and adopt practices such as yoga, meditation, regular exercising.

Q. How can storytelling inspire people?

A. Listening to a well-narrated story or reading a well-conceived tale takes us to a world that is not real, yet full of possibilities and thrills. While it helps us digress from issues that bother us temporarily, it also gives wings to our imagination. There are moments in a story that can really inspire us a great deal, mostly those moments that we can relate to the happenings in our lives. 

These stories and their characters come from within us, and hence there are greater chances of them touching us in ways that are unimaginable. For instance, Detective Boomrah, a character conceived by me, brings excitement, hope and inspiration to the listeners, thanks to his firm belief of nothing being impossible and articulation with which he provides a new perspective to the listeners as he cracks each case. I always say this but would reiterate that storytelling can be the perfect healer for mental health issues.

Q. Did you ever as a life coach experience difficulty in dealing with a person or situation?

A. There are not difficult situations that you come across as a life coach, but they're certainly are dilemma and ambiguity on various occasions. A life coach does not change you per se, in fact, he/she just reminds you of your own virtues and thereby boosts your inner self. As a life coach, we make people identify their own strengths and weakness, following which it is up to an individual to use the realisation for amending their thought process or reactions towards different situations.

We get into situations of dilemma especially when the person we are coaching fails to bring clarity in his responses. It is one of the most major challenges that we face. Such situations, at times, demand us to rely on some hit-and-trial methods, of which most are tradition means.

Q. With celebs opening up on facing depression and mental illness, do you think it will help other people to come out and accept it?

A. It is a fact that celebrities coming out of the closet on issues like depression has raised awareness about the issue and made it a topic of drawing-room discussions. But we need to realise that celebrities or not, depression and mental illness have always been prevalent in society. Any person suffering from it must identify it at first and then dare to open up about it to our peers, friends or families.

The solution to it demands a collective effort by not just a family, but the society on the whole. But even before that, we need to create and flourish a culture where someone suffering from depression or mental illness does not even think of going into the hiding.

Q. Any future works you would like to share?

A. Apart from storytelling, we are working towards providing increased options and avenues for sound-based therapy. Besides, we plan to venture into productions, taking my stories and concepts to major OTT platforms, and eventually to the big screen. Very soon you will see Detective Boomrah, a fictional detective character created by me that has attained immense popularity on the Internet, on the screen.