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— Jasmeen Dugal

''We are to the universe, only as much as we give it back to it'' says Meera Teresa Gandhi, Founder CEO, 'The Giving Back Foundation' which empowers and educates girls, serves as a platform for dialogue and debate to promote positive social change, spreads mindfulness, wellness and happiness. Recognised for her charities worldwide, she treads on the path of spirituality, education, health and wellness. In 2010, she produced and directed the film 'Giving Back' that begins with the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, "When we cease to give, we begin to die''. Next year, she released coffee table book 'Giving Back. In conversation with the philanthropist on the one issue that touches all our lives — wellness.


Promoting wellness is a key mission at 'The Giving Back Foundation'. What are the effortless ways of incorporating wellness into our daily routine.

It's simply a matter of shifting our perspective of functioning in our daily lives. We need to underline each and every activity we undertake with the goal of making sure that it is not harming our health and wellness. Mentally, physically and emotionally we put a lot of stress on our minds and bodies in order to get the task done. We push our health to the back and make it an after thought, or don't think about it at all. We must make our health a priority, and work must be second.

Maintaining an optimal level of wellness is crucial to our quality of life as well-being directly affects our actions and emotions. How does one achieve optimal wellness in order to subdue stress and reduce the risk of illness?

Personal hygiene is the most important factor for maintaining wellness, physically and mentally as well. When we cleanse ourselves of impurities in our mind and bodies we allow ourselves to be our best selves and this allows us to reach an optimum standard of being. It puts us in a better position to tackle challenges. When we don't feel cleansed physically, mentally and emotionally, our general capability to perform falls a considerable level, and doesn't live up to its full potential.

How does one manage stress long-term? Does it require cultivating resilience skills? If so where does one begin?

In order to manage stress for the long run, it's important to cultivate a method that you can develop over time. Actually, for any skill you want to attain, patience and resilience is important to reach the end goal. First and foremost, we must have faith that the universe has our best interest in mind. This does not mean we leave everything up to the universe and quit trying! But it's a powerful thing to have trust and belief in something. After this, we need to remember to stay calm, no matter what. Patience is something we can't immediately start expecting, it's a gradual, immensely beneficial skill that helps us in all situations. Simply reminding ourselves to take a deep breath and step away from the situation goes a long way into an objective view of the problem, as well as solve it in a better way. Gratifying yourself in small ways like meditation, taking walks and receiving and most importantly, accepting and giving support to near and dear ones is important.

People often say '8 hours of sleep' 'go for a run' 'meditate' or 'have a glass of wine' are wellness shots. Does this help in inoculating us from fatigue- stress- feeling overwhelmed or is it short-term?

Small things add up to benefit our lives in an impactful manner. Instead of sweating the small stuff, taking breaks and treating yourself to a glass of wine, spending time with family, listening to music or running can help you de-stress. Of course, getting an appropriate amount of sleep, drinking enough water, eating healthy and exercising are important things to follow to ensure you maintain a minimum standard of good health. It ensures that your body is ready for the tedious activities and challenges of daily life. Creating a routine with healthcare will go a long way to benefit your wellness, long term. Slowly, cultivating a routine of healthful things gets us used to treating our bodies and minds right, and benefits us in the long term permanently.

Our generation is glued to social media- email- online films- watsapp etc. Is technology causing us stress? If this is true... what are the simple ways for a digital detox? 

Technology has been a revolutionary development in communication and information. It has made distance and time almost irrelevant, and is a convenient way to get things done. But too much of anything is just not good. We have started over-indulging in the Internet and making it an obsession as opposed to something that aids and compliments our other activities. Staring at a screen all day and building a false image of others based on pictures and posts is harmful to our self esteem and our general well-being. Like any other guilty pleasure, it's important to control social media use. It's great for communication, convenience and recreation, as long as it's done in appropriate amounts.

Do comment on the trend of using sleep apps, health supplements and diets. Is this a millennial fad or is there something to it?

Everything should be tried and tested. The best processes have been cultivated through hit and trial. We all operate in different frequencies and levels, and what might work for you might be of no help to me. If something is helping us get better sleep and reduce stress without harming us in the long run, it is alright to try. If we can take supplements and use tracking apps for physical problems, then we can take the same help for mental or emotional problems.

Today, health care is not about what happens at the doctor's office; it may be a heartfelt conversation, yoga, farmer's market or abuse survivor's support group. Is healthcare without borders something we should all embrace?

We have started exploring different avenues of our health, what affects it, what might solve our problems. There is more and more research coming up about physical illnesses being related to mental issues. We have started treating mental problems as a real issue and we are all coming together to finding solutions. The most important thing to solve mental issues at a basic level is to find an outlet to express yourself. It could be the most simple thing as having a conversation with someone or a meditation or yoga class to instil calmness in ourselves. Most of us might not even be aware that we are stressed, so finding solutions seems like a distant thought! Exploration and research is a great way to reach a conclusion about what works best with you. In matters of our mind and emotions, we are all different, and we must be in tandem with what our mind and body needs to reach to the point of being our best selves.

Meera Teresa Gandhi
Meera Teresa Gandhi, Founder CEO, 'The Giving Back Foundation'
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