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Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Mental Overload

It's very easy to feel overwhelmed, especially during the time that we're going through. I have five things that I do that helped me keep my sanity. Try these out and maybe they'll help you as well.

Mental Health Concerns Us All

Hopefully, you can find some semblance of peace by implementing these five small things. We might think that mental health challenges and staying mentally fit is for people who have mental illnesses. But actually, mental health concerns us all.

For example, physical health is important for all of us. You don't have to have heart disease diabetes or high cholesterol to take care of your physical body. We know that physical health is important, regardless of whether you have an illness or not. Now we're starting to learn that mental health is just the same way. Everybody needs to take care of their mind because if they don't, they will suffer.

Mental Health Tips that Helped Me in a Bipolar Episode

I have bipolar and recently had an episode. During it, I used these five tips. So if they can help me during a really challenging time, I'm sure that they can help you as well.

When you're stressed, there tends to be sensory overload, which means that colours seem brighter, noises seem louder, or when you're touched, you feel irritated and frustrated. Your mood might be down or it might be too high if you have bipolar or a mental health challenge similar to that. So here are five tips you can use when you have sensory overload.

1. Wear Sunglasses to Limit Visual Overstimulation

The first mental health tip concerning sensory overload is about your eyes. If you find that colors are brighter for you, when you are feeling mentally overwhelmed, what you can do is actually wear sunglasses, even inside your home or even at night.

You might know this tip already or when you go out in the sun when it is really bright, you put on sunglasses. But you can actually use them inside your home when you find that one person in the house needs a bright light to work yet it's just too much for you.

When I drive at night, I just find other car's headlights are very bright. So sometimes I actually wear sunglasses at night while driving. That just limits the visual overstimulation that hits my eyes. Then, it makes it a little easier on my brain to deal with that stimuli.

2. Wear Noise Cancelling Headphones to Limit Auditory Overstimulation

The second tip for mental overstimulation concerns your sense of hearing. If you find noses are very loud, and there's a bunch of people in the house, or if you have kids, it's very hard to concentrate. There's so much noise that you can't even get a moment of peace.

Therefore, use headphones or noise cancelling headphones are even great, because then you can zone out. You can tune out all the noise. However, there are some things I need to hear. I still need to pay attention to my environment, especially when they're young kids around.

Electronic Earplugs To Block Impulsive Noises

Thus, I found these cool headphones that are used in shooting ranges. What I really like about these headphones is that they reduce the wind noise in the environment. They lessen the sharpness and pitch of noises. That balances all the sounds in my environment. Then, you can actually concentrate on the words others are saying without the piercing and shrilling stimuli hitting your ears. It just makes it softer to understand what people are saying around you.

Moreover, you can actually lower the volume. For example, if somebody is talking and you need to hear them because they're far away, you can increase the volume. However, if somebody is closer and it's too loud, you can decrease the volume.

These electronic earplugs are the great. In the video and podcast version of this post, I forgot to mention the technical name for these headphones. So, keep in mind that the are called "Electronic Earplugs." These special headphones also feel very snug on my ear. It seems like I'm wearing a hat and makes me feel very cozy.

3. Use Gloves or Sweaters to Limit Tactile Overstimulation

The third mental health tip is for your sense of touch. Sometimes when you're not feeling well, or have a mental health disorders, you have a hard time when with skin to skin touch. The tactile stimulation is too much for your brain to process, or it's just very irritating and frustrating. Also, if you have little kids, they just touch you all over and keep pulling or your hand. That can be very frustrating. Trust me. I know this all too well.

An easy solution, without exploding, is to wear gloves to cover your hands or long sleeve clothing for your arms. Sometimes when I'm not feeling well. I even have a hard time holding food because of the texture of it. Therefore, I wear surgical gloves while I'm eating.

Covering my hands helps me, especially when I go into mania. I have a very hard time holding stuff. Moreover, in mania, my appetite will go down. Thus, putting on gloves really cuts down on the stimuli on my skin. It makes it easier on my brain to process the tactile stimulation.

4. Use Perfumes or Mask for Olfactory Overstimulation

The mental health tip involves your sense of smell. Often, when you're feeling overwhelmed, and frustrated, normal smells can be a trigger for sensory overload. I'm not merely talking foul smells but even foods like fried onions (us desi peeps know that all too well) can make you nauseous.

Moreover, if somebody is cooking something that you really don't like, it can be irritating and make it hard for you to concentrate on your work or rest. Well, there's an easy fix! Wear a mask (we already do that for COVID-19). You can also pick up a perfume you like, and just spray it on yourself.

Mental Health Improves with Calming and Tranquil Essential Oils

Moreover, you can use essential oils like lavender or eucalyptus. Just take a little bit and rub it under your nose or on the back of your neck. Just make sure it does not irritates your skin.

5. Use Colors to Change your Mental State

The last mental health tip that helps you with sensory overload has to do with your mood and how you can actually regulate it. You've probably seen yourself naturally wear dark colours when you feel down. Thus, when you feel drained, take a shower and change your clothes. Neglecting personal hygiene is a mark of mental health challenges.

Thus, wear something bright and light and watch your mood improve. Of course, your depression or sadness will not go away completely. However, it will definitely lift your mood inshaAllah. Moreover, the color change doesn't just have to do with clothing.

Use Sun and Nature to Boost Your Mood

You could sit in a bright room or in front of the sun. Even having fake plants that are green can really boost your mood. In addition to that, walking outside in nature with the greenery, the blue sky, really lifts your mood. "The Nature Fix" by Florence Williams is a book full of research studies proving how nature can improve our mental health.

Hence, go for bright light colors to lift your mood. Here's a cool one for people who are bipolar. If you're feeling high, or have too much energy, you can do the opposite of wearing bright colors. Wear dark colors to bring down the energy in brain. This helped me when I was going high, and there was too much mental stimuli hitting my brain. Wearing something dark on purpose calms down the mental tone and energy which helps me feel better and balanced.

When to Seek a Mental Health Professional

The above five mental health tips for sensory overload are normally good when you don't have a serious mental health condition. If you do, then these tips are not going to work because they are preventative measures for every day. But if you're having delusions or hallucinations, seek professional help.

The Difference between Delusions vs. Hallucinations

Delusions are erroneous thoughts or beliefs you have that are really far fetched, and you really believe them. However, hallucinations are actually things in your sensory perception. That means you actually might be seeing things or hearing voices.

Thus, these five tips are not going to work if you have delusions and/or hallucinations,. These tips are "too soft." Thus, if you're experiencing a serious mental health challenge that distorts your reality, seek help by calling your psychiatrist or even 911 if there is self-harm involved.

To recap, these mental health tips are for everyday challenges. Here they are again:

1. Wear Sunglasses to Limit Visual Overstimulation

2. Wear Noise Cancelling Headphones to Limit Auditory Overstimulation

3. Use Gloves or Sweaters to Limit Tactile Overstimulation

4. Use Perfumes or Mask for Olfactory Overstimulation

5. Use Colors to Change your Mental State

I really hope that these tips helped you. Please share this post and remember to donate HERE to help us sustain this valuable resource. We are a nonprofit organization which means that all your donations are tax deductible. Also, join our email list for podcast updates using the orange form below.!

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Updated: Nov 1, 2022

What is depression really about? Is it just a chemical imbalance in your brain or is it environmental? Or could it be something more? In this month's episode on the MFM podcast, I sat down with my friend Maleeha Mohsen to discuss what affect personal connections have on depression. This concept is based on Johann Hari's book "Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression - and the Unexpected Solutions." We also discussed how salah can play a key role in a Muslim's mental health.

My Conversation Summary with Maleeha Mohsen on Episode 29 of the Mentally Fit Muslims Podcast

Saba: The first time I really connected with you was through an email you sent and I just felt like I got a hug from you, even though we were so far away. That email meant so much and I printed it out. That message set the path for our relationship.


Yes. I said "Oh, I'm just gonna send her an email, because I think she probably needs this."And I needed to write it too.


What I like about you is you're very real. In a previous episode, we talked about toxic positivity, where you just pretend everything's okay. But I find with you, you acknowledge the real tough challenges. You say it like it is. And then you slowly slowly, you know, you support the person. So, do you want to share your experience with depression?


I was in denial. My husband kept on saying “you're depressed”. And I said, there is no way I'm depressed. You know, that's such a weak person thing to do. I'm a strong person, there is no way I am depressed. I'm just higher. And, my depression did take like a physical aspect to it. I was always sleeping. I was constantly tired. And I thought, oh, okay, it's just a hormonal imbalance. So, it took a long time for me to actually acknowledge to myself that no, there is something definitely wrong with my mind here. And I needed help. So I think when I wrote that letter to you, I think I was getting to that stage of trying to confirm to myself that Oh, yes, Maleeha, you must, you probably have depression here. And then you should get some kind of help. Some kind of help right there. Yeah. That's what I remember.

One Treatment for Depression: Go Help Someone Else

And that kind of brings me to "Lost Connections" by Johann Hari. He talks about how there are seven causes of depression. For example, the lost connections to your family, friends and community and to intrinsic values of love or respect. One of the solutions he says is to go help somebody. It'll take you out of your depression a little bit.

7 Causes of Depression by Johann Hari

Lost connections to the follow can be causes of depression along with brain changes

  1. Lost connections to family, friends and community

  2. Loss of intrinsic values such as love

  3. Disconnection from childhood

  4. Loss of connection to meaningful work

  5. Loss of connection with nature.

  6. Loss of connection to status and respect

  7. Loss of faith

Losing Family Support Meant Losing Mental Health


I had to actually fight with my family to get married. I have this huge family and all of a sudden, I kind of lost that. And I remember, studying a lot in university so I didn't go out and interact with friends as much. Also, my daughter was due in February and none of my professors would actually give me any time off.

After my daughter was born, my husband got into med school. So he was busy and I lived so far away from everywhere else and he would take the car to go to school. So I'd be stuck at home. I lost all kinds of connections to everybody. I thought I was a strong person but depression has nothing to do with strength. It's just the situation itself and then you're reacting to it.

Losing Meaningful Work

Then there's the thing about meaningful work for me. I love being a mother. I just don't want to be a stay at home mom, but my situation worked out in that way that's the only thing I have done so far. And to me that that feels meaningless not that raising my children is meaningless. That's not the only thing I want to do.


You don't look depressed so has something changed? You're still far away from your family. Your husband is still working a lot. Your kids are still home. Have you accepted your situation?


I have accepted my situation. I think that sounds depressing but I'm thinking through that acceptance. I'm at the spot that I don't want to be in but because I've accepted it, I've you stopped fighting it. It's not about giving up on your dreams. It's just that you've been fighting against the tide so much, against the current so much.

Therapy for Depression


When did you start therapy? And how has that helped?


I started maybe 10 years ago. I couldn't always find the right therapist. You need to have a connection with them. I had two very good ones. I went to therapy for a solution and nobody was giving me anything. But then one I found and she took four sessions and said “Oh, I see what your problem is." And then she would give me homework.

Improving Mental Health Through Friendship

I found a friend near me whose life is basically paralleling mine. So it's that social connection with this friend who totally understands what I'm going through. We just met accidentally. She's from the other side of the world and somehow she ended up being in this tiny town in Alberta.

We just met outside one day. We have kids the same age and we just connected. She's my long lost twin. And it didn't take very long for us to become very close. Also we were in a small city, so not very Muslims are around. So you try to make connections with people who are like you.


Some people have a hard time finding that support, especially if they don't have it in their family. And maybe they don't want to open up to even with their friends. What should that person do?

Salah is Key to a Muslim's Mental Health


I would tell them to continue praying because one of the things that happens to me when I'm depressed is that I stop praying. That's one of my signs. If you are making dua, it might be that the therapist you get is the answer to your dua. The friend that I found in the street might be my the answer to my dua.


When somebody says, "You're depressed, because you're not praying," they're attributing the depression to your lack of faith, your lack of praying. The helpful view is that, yes, I'm depressed. And I'm going to turn to Allah for help. Just because I'm depressed doesn't mean I stop talking to him.

Just do the prayer in whatever way you can. It doesn't mean you will have to sit, but just don't let go of that habit. So it seems like Allah is adding meaning to your life. Alhamdulillah you've stuck to your values, and looks like that has really helped you.


This blog post is based on Episode 29 of the Mentally Fit Muslims Podcast. Listen to the full episode here.

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A warm welcome to my old and new friends. We've consolidated all our work and updated the site with a fresh new look. Since moved to a brand new planform, unfortunately we lost a lot of our community engagement (specifically, comments on the blog) but the content is still there for you and we hope to build back our awesome discussions.

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