Mental Health and Body Confidence ; In discussion with Nilushka Perera for Flabulous
By Ranjula Herath
Flabulous is a body positive brand which aspires to build confidence in their community through style for the content they share. One of their recent projects was launching a platform called ‘My Flabulous Life’ – a content platform that helps you to transform yourself to build the best version of you. This week’s focus was on impact of mental health and body confidence.
Nilushka Perera is a behavioural health researcher and lecturer based in Colombo Sri Lanka. She has a background in International Public Health and Psychology where she explores the intersection of behavioural healthcare, digital health and community development across multiple settings. She is currently the Head of Evaluation and Impact for a UK based charity called Best Beginnings. Nilushka has over seven years of experience in project management and research across organisational, health, educational and community based settings and her core research interests are global health, community based health interventions, digital health and perinatal mental health.
We hear the term mental health often. What is your definition of having a sound mental health?
This is a complex question. 'Sound' mental health from a personal point of view is different to all of us. A good balance mentally, for me, is to be able to cope well with the ups and downs in life, be grounded in the realities of the world and gain a sense of contentment/satisfaction with all we do. The term 'Mental Health' is being thrown around a lot these days, so I think it's crucial that we understand how we can help each other and the complexity of mental health and
well-being as a whole.
How do you see the relationship between having good mental health and your level of self confidence?
I think having a good awareness of who you are and how your life experiences have moulded you and your thinking; this makes you confident. Because you know where you stand. The confidence comes because you have worked on yourself and challenged yourself over and over again. Your mental health and how you are feeling can have a profound impact on your confidence, but everyone has different experiences, because how people see confidence is different. It can range from putting yourself in challenging situations to even asking a question from a friend. Having an understanding of your thoughts can hep you gain clarity and confidence as a whole.
What are your top three hacks to be more self confident?
• Put in the work to get to know yourself and your experiences. It helps to put things into perspective.
• Be kind to yourself. The world is a demanding place with so many expectations.
• Find out what works for you. There are so many people who give tips and tricks, but there is no one size fits all when it comes to mental health and well being.
Many communities struggle with negative body image. What is the root cause of this and how does mental health play a role in it?
Well, there are many social, economical, political, health factors that can contribute to body stereotyping; therefore there I cannot say there is one root cause for it. But on a surface level, humans are used to comparing themselves with each other. Media has aggravated it by communicating and showcasing beauty standards and ideal body sizes. The judgement that comes from others, who are 'supposed' to care about you, can have a negative impact on you, and you start defining yourself through the eyes of others. We grow up with comments about our appearance (body size, skin colour) which are said in instead of simple hello. This can affect a person's mental health and their identity which can cascade to their relationships, friendships and even their career progression.
What is your personal mantra for better mental health?
I don’t have one set mantra. Because mental health is complex!
‘Carve out time to reflect and share your experiences and be kind to yourself’ is something that I carry with me. I believe finding out what works for you and being clear about your role in this world, helps to bring things into perspective and stay grounded and content.
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