Metaverse and Mental Health

Metaverse and mental health - person's eye looking at city

Running Away from Your Anxiety

Imagine a world where reality no longer matters. People are no longer motivated to be successful, to educate themselves or to work hard. Some will even toss their morals straight out the window. Reality will no longer matter because virtual reality will become the norm. Whether morning, noon or night, in this world, people will have fallen in love with the metaverse. They will longer feel alive in the real world. Religion? Forget about it. Virtual reality will become their newfound religion. The metaverse and mental health are going to cross paths in many ways. This article will focus on the metaverse and anxiety.

With all the anxiety that we’re already experiencing since March 2020, the metaverse will become an escape for the masses’ mental health problems. Who needs antidepressants for panic disorder when you have the metaverse? Why see a shrink when you can put on a headset and escape reality? When you feel like rushing out of a room due to a sense of doom from your panic, you will instead put on a headset and escape into VR. For all the good reasons why one should have to take care of their mental health, they will all vanish in an instant when the metaverse will go mainstream.

Some will do it consciously while others will not pay attention to it; running away from anxiety will become the norm for many. It will be easier to enter the metaverse when feeling anxious and waste countless hours in another state of consciousness. When returning back to reality, people will feel miserable because their anxiety will still be present. They will do the bare minimum to get by, thinking all day long about the metaverse until the first opportunity to reenter it. Reality will become a hurricane of anxiety! People will no longer have any motivation to treat their mental illness; the metaverse will be their medication.

The Metaverse is Not a Solution for Mental Illness

No virtual reality platform, video game or illicit and unstudied substance will ever be a proper treatment for mental illness. People will continue to use these avenues as ways to escape their suffering, but no shortcut has ever properly treated a mental illness. The treatment of a mental illness often requires three important factors:

  1. The courage and desire to seek help
  2. Therapy
  3. And oftentimes, medication

The metaverse and substances will never be a treatment for mental illness, but more of an escapism. It will be easier for people to enter another world than to spend countless hours with a therapist or take a chance with psychotropics. I am not here to blame the metaverse, but only to spark food for thought. Many people abuse substances to attempt to treat anxiety and depression, but drugs only make their symptoms worse. Who is to say that people will not attempt to treat their illness with the metaverse?

Use the metaverse for entertainment and psychiatry for your mental health concerns; don’t mix the two.

The Metaverse

Mental Health and Virtual Reality – Do they Mix?

The metaverse is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. People will be able to wear a device or log onto a platform on their computer or television and enter the metaverse. What you will be able to do in VR is endless. Imagine being able to play table tennis, hang out with friends at virtual bars or go hiking on your favorite Appalachian trail. Everything you’ve always wanted to do in real life, you will be able to do so in the metaverse. While it sounds good, you can also imagine all the downsides that VR will bring to society.

So how is the metaverse going to affect mental health? Well for starters, people might become more disconnected in real life. Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic not going away, they will be more tempted to stay indoors and hop into their VR niche. It’s going to be much easier to come home from work and put on a headset than make an effort to meet up with friends. People will rely even more on technology to socialize and lose more of those in-person benefits such as touch, physical closeness and empathy.

The Metaverse and Psychological Addiction

Everything you’ve always wanted to do, you will be able to on the metaverse. Ever wondered how heroin feels? You obviously don’t want to try it in real life, but what if the metaverse will offer “heroin bars?” You will be able to consume the drug and feel as intoxicated as in real life! This might lead to higher addiction rates, despite being virtual experiences! Also imagine all the people who are struggling with their love life. What if the metaverse can offer prostitution, perhaps even for free? All you will have to do is hop into VR and experience a “virtual sex session.”

Everyone is excited about all the positives of the metaverse, but we cannot ignore the negatives. Look how hooked we are to our iPhones, internet and Netflix. Now imagine taking these experiences and intensifying them by 100x, literally transporting our consciousness into an alternate reality. Your brain is going to release great amounts of the “feel good” neurotransmitter called dopamine. My concern is when you’ll tap out of VR and come back down to reality. What will happen to your dopamine levels? For all the people who complain that “reality sucks,” they will likely be tempted to spend more time virtually. Repeat this process enough times and we can likely see society developing a “virtual reality” addiction.

The Positives of The Metaverse

Okay, not everything will be bleak. Perhaps many people who are lonely, avoidant, anxious or depressed will find relief in the metaverse. They will be able to socialize with others without the fear of feeling rejected as in real life. They will be able to conquer their phobias and anxieties by titrating experiences at their own pace and comfort level. People with depression might be able to enjoy any activity they desire, which they could not otherwise in a depressed state of mind at home. Those who are shy and avoidant will be able to interact with others at their own pace. People who are autistic will more easily connect with others who are also autistic and enjoy similar activities. Perhaps some people will also meet their partners in the metaverse and fall in love!

Let’s be realistic; you’re never going to be able to experience all the activities you’ve ever dreamed of. In reality, work, relationships, stress and other factors always tend to get in the way. But in VR, you will be able to go skiing, skydiving or visit Paris for the first time within the comforts of your home. Technology is going to become so advanced that skydiving will likely feel as if you are actually falling in the sky. Maybe you won’t even have to leave home to go to work. Your employer will provide you with a number or code that you will be able to use to clock in virtually and work from home. Sitting at home and working virtually rather than sitting in traffic for an hour will likely result in reduced stress!

For people who have always struggled to exercise and get in shape, the metaverse might become an easier outlet to get started. Don’t have enough money to afford a Peloton or motivation to head to your local gym? No worries! Just hop onto VR and start cycling away. Building confidence while exercising virtually might prove to have a beneficial effect on your mental health.

The Future is Virtual

In conclusion, it’s too early to predict all the positive and negative aspects of the metaverse. I’ve touched upon a few of them above just to get our minds to anticipate what the future might have in store for us. But as with any new technology, there will always be some downfalls that we need to prepare ourselves for. Everyone will be susceptible to different pitfalls and we will have to manage them when the time comes. But if we can at least anticipate them before the metaverse goes mainstream, we can mentally prepare ourselves beforehand so we don’t experience any major surprises.

What are your thoughts on the metaverse? Do you think that society is doomed and this is just another form of control by the elite? Or do you believe that VR will bring more benefits than risks? I’m tempted to believe that it will be an equal mix of positive and negative aspects. I believe that the COVID-19 pandemic and virtual reality might make us more distant in person. This will cause us to rely more on technology as a form of communication. I also believe that we are going to become even more disconnected from nature than we already are. Think about it, who wants to go spend time in a forest when you can just hop onto VR and do it from your couch? My main concern is that humanity will consciously transition from reality into VR and experience great difficulty transitioning back.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Talking About Mental Health

Planet Zer0

Imagine a world where mental health does not exist; let’s call it Planet 0. In this society, there is no recognition of depression, anxiety, psychosis, eating disorders, ADHD, tic disorders, drug addiction, etc. If you suffer from a disorder of the mind, you are considered “weird,” “abnormal,” “strange” or “other-worldly.” In this world, if you have a mental illness, you are ostracized from society; you have to find your way back home because you are not getting into this circle. In this world, talking about mental health is not an option.

Talking About Mental Health is Not an Option

People who commit suicide are viewed as weak; “he would have never made it anyways” is the mentality. Drug addicts are considered the scum of the earth on Planet 0. Suffering or even worse, dying, is celebrated by the masses. Psychotic people are one of the most feared and despised. Governments all around the world are considering passing a law to allow citizens to shoot at a psychotic person if they feel threatened.

Essentially, humanity on Planet 0 does not want to have anything to do with mental health. If you are feeling down, your family warns you to get yourself together. Your friends start to lose interest in you if you’re suffering from anxiety. If you are feeling insecure, your significant other is expected to leave you. If you are hallucinating, society no longer knows of you. Psychiatric medications are for lab rats. If you’re even heard of having some medications in your home, your landlord has the right by law to evict you.

In this society, people prefer to be free of mental illness, but do not want to address it. The stigma of mental health is sky-high. Laws are being considered to prevent pharmaceutical companies from creating psychiatric medications. Pharmacies are considering banning psychiatric medications. The suicide rate is on the rise and over 60% of the population is depressed. But society doesn’t care. They view mental illness as a plague and want to wash it off the face of the hearth.

Why do we talk about mental health?

So we can avoid experiencing any sort of stigma that slightly touches or resembles Planet 0.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Think Outside The Box

The Box Will Always Be Full

How long will you keep ignoring your inner urge to seek the truth? Even when you’re presented with tad bits of revelations, you rewind back to your comfort zone of trusting your present reality, as if somehow it were the accurate narrative. This is your psychological defense mechanism hardwired into your mind. Sometimes defense mechanisms have to be severed to evolve as a human being. The alternative is continuing in your present state of mind, which may not be satisfactory or purposeful to your growth. You have to think outside the box.

Many people never leave the box because they never think to do so, don’t care enough, don’t know how to or leave but quickly return back to their comfort zone. Let’s provide an example: ever since you were born, you have been surrounded by authority figures. These figures have included your parents, the educational system and the government. When in the world have you ever been alone and free?

It’s no wonder that every time you attempt to leave the box, you start to experience psychological discomfort and come running back telling yourself, “I have trust in our government, I have trust in the system, I have to trust the process.” As it has already been said, the box will always be full, but are you willing to leave square one and upgrade, perhaps even exponentially, to higher pyramidal levels?

Think Outside The Box – The Upgrade

So how do you go about thinking outside the box? Start by changing your outlook on life by implementing a curious state of mind. Think of a child who explores their environment, asks many questions and tries new activities. You have to find that childish side of you again and tap into it. The beauty about that childish state of mind is that it allows you to develop a lot of curiosity and imagination. This will open you up to new sources of information that can provide you with truth, alternative views on reality and newfound knowledge.

The next question is how do you tap into your childish state of mind? If you’re thinking about maturity, then no, you don’t have to become immature. A childish state of mind can be tapped into by desiring to be curious and exploring for new information. Many people aren’t curious to open up to new sources of information because they’re comfortable in their comfort zone. As I’ve previously written in another post, always staying in your comfort zone can hinder your growth. A comfort zone is safe but comfort does not always equate to growth. Oftentimes, comfort can hinder your growth by preventing you from trying new activities, talking to new people and opening up your mind to new sources of information.

The Execution

Now that you have successfully tapped into your childish state of mind, it’s time to continue your exploration. Thinking outside the box is not only about exploring new sources of information. You also have to be curious to study human behavior. Pay attention to your surroundings and observe the interactions of people in your environment. Notice how they dress, exchange words, converse and pay attention to their body language. Much useful information can be gathered from your surroundings that can help you evolve. Studying human behavior makes you smarter and sharper by expanding your emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is important to have because excellent communication skills can open up new doors for you. By getting good at studying body language, you can place yourself in a great position when conversing with people. This will allow you to know how to interact with them so that you can get the best outcome of the situation you find yourself in. Some may ask, “doesn’t everyone already do this?” No, many people don’t pay attention to human behavior; they are too stuck in their mental bubble. As a result, they don’t get as much out of their encounters with others, missing potential opportunities for improvement.

Think Outside The Box – The Maintenance

You see, thinking outside the box is a mindset that you have to work at if it doesn’t already come naturally. Some people like myself developed a psychological lens since childhood (check out the learn more about me section). But even then, I must still keep working at maintaining this state of mind. We are so influenced by society, that it’s very easy to crawl back in the box and forget about expanding our consciousness. Now you can imagine that this can be a challenge for those who don’t naturally think outside the box. In other words, your aim should be to always think outside the box; make it a permanent mindset.

You must also be careful with the news sources that you rely on to get your information. While mainstream media provides you with the most juicy pictures and stories, much of that information may also have a twist or agenda. These twists and hidden agendas can easily influence you to remain inside the box. You end up becoming comfortable with what’s presented to you and no longer care to explore more independent news sources. You start to believe what is presented to you without even asking questions or doing your research. When this happens, your mind becomes captured by your environment and prevents you from thinking outside the box.

The Wrap-up

In conclusion, to think outside the box requires you to reunite with your childish state of mind. Once tapped into it, you must continuously work at executing this mindset by practicing curiosity, studying your surroundings and playing with your imagination. Lastly, you must make an effort to maintain this mindset by being careful with your surroundings and preventing outside influences from keeping you trapped in the box. I have no timeframe for how long this can last, but my recommendation is to maintain this mindset for life. You will only continue to grow and learn more about yourself and your surroundings. Growth will bring you satisfaction, happiness and a desire to further expand your consciousness.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

How Weather Affects Your Mood

Elements of Earth: Different States of Mind

Rainy: This is that cushy mental feeling where you know that your day is gone, (meaning you’re stuck inside) and that you’re totally fine with getting cozy and not accomplishing much. How does weather affect your mood? This state of mind can also be accompanied by excitement and stimulation, such as getting ready to study something in your area of interest; study for any looming exams or reading your favorite book or novel. When tapped into this, you don’t even want to go outside; you have brought the outside world in. This is how the weather affects your mood.

You stare out the window and find comfort in the dropping rain, observing the various speeds of the droplets change over a matter of time. If you’re lucky to experience a euphoric window breeze, then you’re practically sold at this point. Include meditation and prayer and become one with your environment; inwardly-outwardly connected.

How Weather Affects Your Mood: The Winter Months

Snowy: When you know that you’re going to get hit by a snowstorm, your mind is already prepared several days beforehand; it becomes a rehearsal when two or more storms make landfall during one season. When a storm arrives, oftentimes early in the morning, you wake up knowing that there’s no way you’re going to work that day. Sometimes you wake up early in the morning, still dark out, and quickly put on your coat to check out the outdoors. You surprisingly step out into 12 inches of snow; it feels like walking on ice cream (vanilla all the way). When you realize that there’s no way you’re driving to work, your state of mind disconnects from any work-related matters; you go back in your inner world.

With the snow accumulating and making your outside surroundings like a fairy-tail, you begin to relax and appreciate your time off. Snow has a calming effect because it puts you in a mood of intense relaxation. There is something very comforting about seeing snow fall while getting warm in the comforts of your living room. If rainy is the cushy state of mind, then snowy is cushy x 2. This is how weather affects your mood.

Weather and Mood: Here comes the Sun

Sunny: Must we even get into this one? If living in the Northeast, you’ll probably easily relate. California readers, I’m sorry; I know it’s a different world out there. Bottom line: you appreciate every moment of it. It brightens your mood, excites and stimulates you, is easy to make plans to and feels amazing on your skin when you step outside. The sunny state of mind is like drinking two extra cups of great morning coffee (without actually drinking them). You feel ready to tackle the day, multitask and save time, plan and conquer and feel accomplished by evening.

Cloudy: This might be the worst state of mind (maybe even top 10 for humankind). We’re not including rain here. This is solely a cloudy day with no smile in the sky, like as if the sun is hiding or taking a break. In this state of mind, depression is very easy to kick into; for some, it’s only to the degree of sadness. Let’s admit it, you can feel sad during cloudy days! There’s nothing to hide here. I don’t know one person who enjoys cloudy days. Try living in places like Pittsburgh, PA where I grew up; it’s literally sunny every 4-5 days or so. It makes a big difference waking up in a state where it’s sunny all the time, versus a state where the sun is interrupted by heavy layers of clouds. I’m sorry, but I rather pick a zip code with much sun.

Chills: Are you cold yet?

Chilly: This is when you’re literally approaching winter around the corner, but you can still get away with your favorite light clothes. This is when you throw on a long-sleeve shirt and can still get away with comfort, sometimes even during evenings. But there is something anxiety-provoking about the chilly experience; it makes you feel like difficulties are lying ahead due to the winter season approaching. Chilly is like kissing the season of Fall away and welcoming winter into your life. This is how weather affects your mood.

What’s your experience with the various weatherly states of mind?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Words of Encouragement

Pandemic: Living in the Era of COVID-19

Take my words of encouragement how you like them. It’s so easy for you (and for us) to wake up every day and dive into a negative state of mind, especially during the era of the COVID-19 pandemic. We turn on the news and hope that we don’t hear any more mentions of “lockdowns,” “mandatory vaccines,” “delta variant,” and “masks.” After one minute of the television chirping in the background, we’re already slightly stressed and quickly turn it off. This process is even worse when you’re suffering from a mental illness.

So what are my words of encouragement for you? I know it sounds simple but they are, “practice gratitude and be thankful for what you already have.” A mistake many people make (including myself) is that they constantly desire more in their life, at the expense of practicing gratitude for what they already have. While there’s nothing wrong with desiring more and creating goals to accomplish new dreams, always seeking without practicing gratitude puts you in a “consciousness of lack.” In other words, you attract more of what you don’t have because that’s what your mind is focused on.

Words of Encouragement: You Already Have What You Need

Just remind yourself that you already have more than you need; never forget that. We’re already very selfish by nature so don’t let your environment make you even more selfish. You can imagine how terrible it must be for your psyche if you’re not practicing gratitude, always seeking more and suffering from a mental illness, all while in the middle of a never-ending pandemic. Gratitude is like medicine but we often ignore this potent medicine that lies within us. We’re too focused on our environment rather than internally being thankful for what we have.

Starting from today, practice gratitude this very moment and continue to do so for the rest of your life. Lastly, I want to mention that I don’t write long blog posts due to time and energy. As a psychiatrist, it’s a challenge to write impressively long content, so I hope you enjoy these short pieces.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Exercise and Fitness

Exercise and Happiness

Exercise and fitness is like a tug of war for your mind. For instance, part of you envisions yourself getting stronger and fitter, while the other half prefers to sit on the couch and watch Netflix or play video games. Negative thoughts about exercising include:

  • Why put more effort into my life?
  • I’m fine doing less work
  • Working out requires effort; I’m already tired from my job
  • I won’t lose weight
  • I’ll probably get tired within five minutes of exercising
  • I don’t see any results
  • It’s too much work

Right off the bat, your mind comes up with negative thoughts and reasons as to why you shouldn’t exercise. This is because it’s easier for your mind and body to relax and not put in any effort. Why? Because as humans, we prefer the easier route in life that maximizes results with little effort. The problem is that you can’t obtain the benefits of exercise and fitness if you don’t make an effort. Some people try to get away by exercising here and there; inconsistency leads to inconsistent results. Eliminate your negative schema about exercise with the following positive thoughts listed below.

Positive Thoughts that you need to start Implementing Regarding Exercising:

  • Hard work pays off
  • My mental health will improve
  • My body-mind connection will improve
  • I will feel more confident and better about myself
  • My discipline will improve
  • People will compliment me on my improved physique
  • I will have more confidence in my ability to work hard

Exercise and Fitness: Just do it

You see, as with anything that requires hard work in life, negative thoughts often get in the way of succeeding. Negative thoughts have to be intentionally replaced with positive ones until your attitude shifts and the process of exercising becomes easier. It’s definitely possible. You just have to be willing to make a change and then put yourself out there to accomplish it. Ask yourself, what is it that I’m trying to accomplish? Are you looking for an improved physique? To lose weight? Or do you simply want to feel better about yourself? Also keep in mind that exercising is also great for your mental health and you’ll feel much better after a workout. The question is, are you willing to start?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Mental Health Analysis

Self-Analysis is Key to Success

Everyone is talented at something they find more interest in. Some are great with visualization and goals, speech and entertainment, and others enjoy academia. One key to success that they all have in common is self-analysis; or at least they should have it in common! Without mental health analysis, you risk becoming too dependent on the environment to understand yourself and where your fingerprints tend to fall in society.

But it requires courage; lots of it. Imagine the brain as a vault and your unconscious mind is locked in the deepest layers; your goal is to get down there! Do you even know how to? I guess we should first ask, do you even care? If so, prepare for a life journey with many twists and turns; many chills in the mirror.

There’s no rush with self-analysis, as long as you remain honest with yourself and don’t cheat out. You already have all the tools you need:; intuition, dreams and faith. If you can consistently utilize all three elements as much as possible, clarity of your life will become more apparent.

Mental Health Analysis: Clarity

I guess many of us lack clarity in life. Clarity is not correlated with success, but a lack of it can possibly contribute to a lack thereof. When I refer to this, imagine as if your invisible being is wearing a pair of eyeglasses, the problem being that they’re blurry most of the time; can you really see what lies ahead weeks, months and years into the future?

Whether you’re suffering from an infection, virus or self-analytical pain, chills in the mirror are the common denominator. It’s a long process that is very-well worth it in the long-run and can bring you many benefits, a peaceful state of mind and that much needed, but very-well deserved clarity.

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Feeling Sad

Borderline State of Mind

Feeling sad

The pain comes in rapidly

Unexpectedly it flows into your vicinity

Like a swallowed pill kicking in at the bottom of the hour

You’re taking another raincheck

You don’t know what to believe anymore

Do you allow the sadness to storm over

Or do you take control and roar

The truth is that you have to battle your way

Life wants to test, trick or tease you

It’s up to you to be aware and react accordingly

Letting it swivel you around won’t bring you goods accordingly

Take control in the moment

Implement positive seeds, sprouting positive deeds

But even doing that tilts you at an unease

There’s a war on your mind

Mental illness is like a savage in the wild

A stranger that wants to make you uneasy

Can you spot it before it makes you uneasy?

Is this really a borderline state of mind?

Or only a test of time?

Feeling Sad: A Test of Time

What if sadness is a test of time?

Once you cross the finish-line

Your sadness dissipates

Instantaneously it evaporates

You wonder what changed

While celebrating your victory

There is no more shame

Was this all a test of time?

Riding it out till the end

You experienced some pain

And now your spent

Life has pulled away its chains

You’re now free to explore happiness for a change

Is this too good to be true?

You might wake up tomorrow again feeling blue

Have some confidence you tell yourself

Insecurity might reel in sadness mixed with hell

Feeling Sad: Moving Forward

It’s been weeks since you last felt sad

Maybe it was a test of time

You’re glad

You take advantage of the situation

You’re moving forward

You’re finally content

This situation can never end

You’re optimism is blowing up

You’re nowhere near spent

Your mind is high on life

You never want it to end

Where was this state of mind the last couple of decades?

Let’s hope this never ends

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

Marinating in Sadness

Cooking Yourself Alive

Marinating in sadness is nothing new to you

You need lubrication to get unstuck from the glue

The alcohol uses your veins as a rollercoaster ride

And you sadness remains empty because it was never full

Alcohol alleviates the pain but it’s only a game

You come crashing down soon after like rain

The ride never seems to end

You just start all over as if stuck in quicksand

Therefore what’s left to do besides marinate in sadness

You’re paralyzed on the couch

Your bedroom on your mind

You stare out the window slow as time

The world is moving forward and you’re stuck

If only you can ride that rainbow like Daffy Duck

You rely on drugs for hope and inspiration

But you come crashing down quickly

Your sadness was always out of luck

People want to get to know you

But you lost interest in them before they even met you

You give them a chance

However you’re already bored

They don’t think outside the box

They’re too manipulated by what they’re told

Seeking self-comfort seems like the only option at times

Peace of mind and solitude eases the painful obstacles of the mind

Can you relate to what I am saying or is this just a facade?

Think about it again because by tomorrow you probably forgot

Marinating in Sadness: What Tomorrow Brings

Marinating in sadness into the evening

Tomorrow might be different

Striving away from sinking

This evening your mind falls deeper into quicksand

You’re buried alive and lose touch with reality

Sleep has overtaken you

Now it’s tomorrow and find yourself alive

How can this be?

I thought I died

So you didn’t die because tomorrow opened your eyes

And you sadness is gone

That’s right

The quicksand was a portal for your mind

You’re feeling better

Sadness has been left behind

Are you ready for what tomorrow brings?

Are you Ready? (This is Defeating Stigma Mindfully)

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