Q&A with Dr. Aditi Govitrikar, psychologist, doctor, actress, model & winner of Mrs World & Mrs India beauty pageants, on the 8 pillars of wellbeing

Q. Tell us about your work in psychology? What sort of situations do you see most often see occurring in our society? Is stress the main issue?

A. When we talk about Psychology, it is the study of human mind, our thoughts, behaviour, why we do what we do, our personal development, personalities, emotions, motivation and so much more. When it comes to a person’s mental health today, stress isn’t the only root cause of unrest in our society. Stress plays a significant role in every individual’s life – be it in a child’s life, a mother’s or in the 9-5 life of the working class; but apart from this, there’s also depression, addiction, anxiety due to lack of time and eating disorders. These are also on the rise, and are increasing at dangerous levels.

Wellness and wellbeing have taken new roles in the past couple of years and the advancements in psychology alone are astounding – new symptoms and problems to illnesses never heard of before, and therefore new cures are being looked at.

Part of my work as a psychologist focuses on spreading awareness on the 8 pillars of mental health/wealth and well-being, which I have developed and provide to everyone with actionable tools, suggestions and solutions to help strike the right balance towards a balanced harmonious life. These 8 pillars of wellbeing are – Social, Emotional, Physical, Spiritual, Nutritional, Environmental, Intellectual, and Financial. My upcoming venture at a YouTube channel named ‘Lighthouse’ focuses on multiple properties where I talk about tackling various issues related to these 8 strengths.

Q. Since psychological situations have a direct bearing on the productivity of workforce, what is your advice to people so that they can balance things better?

A. Just like no one can live in isolation, we also know that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There are many people who spend unhealthy amounts of hours (15-18 hours) every day at work and dedicate very little of their time for other activities that are just as important for a happier, healthier and stable life. One needs to focus on physical health or our bodies might give up on us in unimaginable ways. One needs to invest in stimulating the minds with activities that excite us, give us happiness, make us think, and ultimately keep the brain active. Building strong relationships is underrated in today’s day and age, but it leads to a major boost in emotional and social stability.

Like I mentioned, the 8 pillars of wellbeing is the mantra people should live by and they should focus on each element to be more productive, creative and content with life. It sounds daunting but it is very simple in practice. Some dedication and devoting time for one own’s self is the key to living a fulfilling and successful life. Focus on the 8 dimensions to stay fit, sharp and mentally ahead of the curve – that’s the advice I give to everyone who comes to me. We’ve got to baby step our way to life before we feel helpless or get burned out.

Q. Rampant consumerism and related aspiration are said to be a prime cause of psychological stress today. What is your view on this? How can this be modified?

A. Yes, keeping up with the latest trends, fads and electronic gears are definitely a rage today. Keeping up appearances on social media is a must and an integral part of everyday – not just for the teens and millennial but practically anyone and everyone who has a mobile device these days. It’s scary to see the world get so consumed with technology or the fact that things are so easily available at the snap of a finger that we’ve stopped putting efforts for even the smallest of tasks!

All this is disconnecting us with our roots and it’s sincerely a concern. This can lead people with strong need/urges to impress others and one goes to great lengths and show their lives are 10x better than it actually is. My take on this would be to set boundaries. Leave work at the workplace and technological gadgets out of the bedroom at all times. Practicing mindfulness and relaxation right before sleep and immediately post waking will help us remain centred. The effect can be a life changer.

Q. You were a qualified doctor who then entered modelling and acting. How did that transition happen? What were your learning during that stint?

A. Honestly, I was very determined to be a doctor ever since I was little. I had it all planned out in my head and I just knew what my way forward in life would be. Modelling happened by chance. Going with the flow and giving things a shot for the experience of it led me to winning pageant titles like Mrs. India and Mrs. World. Needless to say, everything was happening fast and it was overwhelming. I also got offered movie roles. I went with the flow of where life was taking me and followed God’s plan. I loved every minute of being an actress. My quest is still on as I pursue my Masters in Psychology from Harvard currently. It’s been a rollercoaster ride, but I regret nothing.

My learning from all the experiences would definitely be – if it excites you, it’s worth a shot. Follow your heart. If you excel at something – give it all you got. It’s just like how everyone says it – go hard or go home.

For those who don’t have set goals, it’s okay to go with the flow and see where life takes you for sometime! But don’t just sit around not trying to figure where your interests are and things you’re exceptional at. You got this. Don’t be afraid to seek help, professionally. There are ways to find out what your strengths are. Make a plan, set goals and work towards them. Take baby-steps daily and suddenly you’ll realise a lot is done.

Q. Showbiz itself is a source of psychological stress, perhaps more so for people who are not from film-families. What is your advice to them?

A. It can be overwhelming, true. But if becoming an actor is someone’s passion, then hard work and perseverance should be their two best friends. Anything is achievable if we set our mind and hearts to it. Build support systems, seek help as there is a lot of insecurity and handling it alone can be tough.

Q. In your work as a psychologist, you must have interacted with youth a lot. What is your advice to India’s youth?

A. With the number of youth events happening in India and the multiple ones I get invited to attend, I can frankly say – India’s future is very bright. The sheer amount of talent and abilities the new generation possesses is simply extraordinary. If only we can limit the distractions from our lives to even a small extent and set out on the right path, the sky is the limit for India. We need to be passionate and diligent about whatever we are doing.

Q. Recent films have helped highlight many social issues and spread public awareness on them. How do you think cinema can be used to communicate better the psychological issues prevalent in our society?

A. When it comes to showcasing psychological issues on the big screens, it is not being widely accepted by masses today. Definitely the scope is there, and I can only see it broadening in the near future. People are opening up to a plethora of previously taboo topics and embracing change. It’s taken a while for people to leave conservative thoughts behind for a handful of topics. It is a positive sign to reach out to the masses, educate them about mental issues and providing a gateway to reach out, come out and fight it – alongside everyone.

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