Six ways to ward off morbid thoughts

By Zubeida Mustafa

Here are some tips which have helped me ward off the blues – at least in times like these when the going is tough.

  1. Resort to the “Kitchen Table Wisdom” strategy. Actually this should be a part of people’s life on a continuing basis and not just when they are upset. In a nutshell, it requires family and friends to share their stories – mainly their experiences of the day on a daily basis. When I was young, mercifully there was no television to distract us. Dinnertime became a ritual that no one was allowed to miss, unless one had a genuine reason to be absent from the dinner table. Eating was of course the main event but more time was spent on talking. For hours after the last dish had been removed and the table cleared, we continued to sit and chat. There was everything under the sun that came up for discussion. In the process we were sharing our joys and our fears and our anxiety. In the process we also received healing therapy from our parents and siblings. By simply talking, we seemed to unburden ourselves and the problem didn’t seem to be as big as we had been imagining it to be. Even a gentle reassurance from another person was enough to lift the load off our shoulders. I call it The Kitchen Table Wisdom approach from a book I read many years ago by Dr Rachel Naomi Remen, she wrote, “Listening to stories can be healing. A deep trust of life often emerges when you listen to other people’s stories. You realize you’re not alone; you’re traveling in wonderful company. Ordinary people living ordinary lives often are heroes.”
  2. Exercise therapy was something I discovered by accident. I have been an exercise buff. Sometimes when things didn’t seem so good and my mood was low, I found that after I had exercised, the day seemed brighter and things perked up. It was then that I learnt of the neurotransmitters in the brain and how exercise – a brisk walk or aerobics – can change your mood. 
  3. Read a book. It doesn’t have to be a book on profound philosophy. Any thing you enjoy. You may not always have someone to listen to you or to tell you a story. The book is a wonderful companion. Remember Omar Khayyam’s yearning for a book of verse. My friend Moinuddin Khan, a retired librarian, told me that when his elder son, a young man in his twenties, was killed in a road accident many years ago, for years he felt he couldn’t get over the loss. Then he had traveled abroad on a professional visit. In a library he went to he found a book on the grief of a parent on the death of a child. He borrowed it and read it the same night. He said that after reading the book he felt it had brought him closure after so many years of his bereavement.
  4. Rationalise and hope for the best as you think of times when good things did happen to you or the evil that befell you was not the end of the world.
  5. Cut down on your television viewing. Be selective about what you want to view. Stay informed but there are so many other ways of getting the news. The good old fashioned way – by reading newspapers – can be revived. It gives you time to think as you read and leaves your own thinking process intact unlike TV which takes your mind over.
  6. Dream of a better world and your dream may spur you on to action of a positive kind to achieve the world you dream about.

3 thoughts on “Six ways to ward off morbid thoughts

  1. we had no kitchen table but we had a kitchen and we sat around ammi on low coir stools called peerhees and talked and talked until she told us to go to sleep. that priceless luxury of togetherness has been sold cheaply to television which fills our minds and our evenings with disturbing images when not spewing garbage. on summer afternoons the siesta was often time when father read to us his favourite passages from some book or a column from the newspaper. (there used to be only one or at most two columns in those days and everybody did not have the audacity or licence to become a columnist). zubeida mustafa sahiba is right in counselling kitchen table wisdom for some our worries and lack of peace and solace.
    mushir anwar

  2. Kitchen Table wisdom sounds like the peaceful life that ran on an easy pace;today's age is comparatively on a jet speed;right from communication to super heroes with superspeeds and mind boggling violence;even the conversations and news is at a hectic speed with new technology.
    Senior officers in any organisation never type-they had typists to do the job after they narrated .Remember? and now in this computer age it seems typists are done with….
    All said and done it is solid good old fashioned advice that is bound to work if the kids would comply.

  3. All the six points are of priority in nature and my personal experience also says thus. Punctuality and disciplined way of living also helps greatly.

    The description of 'mushir anwar' reminds me childhood days. We all brother sisters would sit around chulha when mother is cooking food for family.

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