I had left the phone unattended for only about an hour and it was loaded with messages.
By this time, I was too tired to even open the app to check the sender’s names, so reading messages was out of question. Nor did I intend to fill my mind again with negativity.
Time management has become most essential these days.
For elders it is work from home (WFH), for kids it’s school vacation and parents are confined to house too.
The killer has been terminating the services of house help!
With entire family at home and no support system whatsoever, the onus of managing the house fell completely on the female of the household. From sweeping, mopping, cleaning, laundry, ironing, stocking essentials and cooking meals to engaging and teaching kids, all my friends are on the verge to collapse.
“Me time” has become a distant dream.
It is a challenging time indeed. We have never witnessed prolonged lockdown like this and that too spanning over the entire nation. There is uncertainty, chaos, ambiguity and fear. Overload of verified and unverified information is adding to the already rising anxiety levels of the people. Some people are adhering to the safety norms while others are acting in ways detrimental to the society.
Though government is riding on the experience of other nations that are ahead of us in the pandemic and ensuring to avoid mistakes committed by them but the novelty of the virus has created unprecedented waves of obscurity, distress and insecurity.
From the high tide of “Social networking” to the sudden emergence of “Social distancing”, our generation has participated not only in the growth driven by technology but also in the menace created by human indulgence in nature.
From the era of animals and birds locked in cages built by humans, to the times when humans are captive in the houses and envious of the freedom of fauna, we have witnessed a lot. And it wouldn’t be wrong to say that hoping a reverse to happen in a jiffy would be inane and unreal.
Since it is going to be a long journey, we cannot let our emotional and mental health get eroded over the span of next few weeks/ months.
Here are a few tips that assist me in maintaining my sanity during these troubled times. Hope you find these useful too.
- Accept the new normal
The foremost thing meddling with our behavior is ‘defiance.’ We are not willing to accept that human beings have been impacted to such a great degree by a virus. (Hadn’t science progressed significantly to avert such threats?) More than that, we do not wish to acknowledge that our lives have been overturned and will continue to remain so for a while.
But the sooner we accept that this is the new way of life, the easier the day will turn out to be. Accept the new normal- adjust to the new routines and you’ll find yourself less irked and anxious. Yes, this is weird; agreed that it’s scary too but there are certain things beyond our control. So, it pays to control its impact by controlling our reaction. Just ACCEPT!
- Plan your day
Once you accept the new normal, you need to plan your day to accommodate the changes. Your workload may have suddenly increased but with careful planning, you can sail through. Let others at home share your load. Do not expect perfection from others and yourself in everything. It’s fine to overlook a dusty corner or a little less salt in the dish and of course, three course meals can too be avoided, so long as it is sparing you some energy. When we plan our day, it reduces our stress levels.
- Stay connected
You may have been forced to follow social distancing but it’s crucial to stay connected with your friends and family. Remember they are on the verge of a breakdown too and look forward to your positive words. You need to assure them that we all are in this together. Keep checking on their health, text them, call them, skype or video chat- utilize any form of technology to reach out to your loved ones. Just stay put. Get in touch with old friends, call your neighbors, and leave a message for that distant relative too who talks bad about you- just stay connected!
I like the words of Malcolm X here, “When ‘i’ is replaced with ‘we’, even ‘illness’ becomes ‘wellness’.”
- Maintain positivity at home
These are turbulent times when we are feeling trapped in our own houses- caged in our mansions. The roads are empty but there is chaos inside- inside our house, inside our minds. Uncertainty breeds pessimism and it has a way to dominate our mind, thereby affecting our behavior.
Remember that all family members are at home so if each one of us is in the grip of negativity thereby losing temper, at different time of the day, the aura of the house will become gloomy and intolerable.
So, stay positive that this too shall pass. We have faced so many challenges in our lives, and we will overcome this as well. The way we think or feel is reflected in our actions. If we maintain positive vibes at home, it will benefit the state of mind of all family members.
Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise again.
- Locate your stressors and de-stressors
Each of us knows our stress triggers. For me it is my inability to follow my yoga or writing routine. When I can’t manage either, I feel irritated and my family has to bear the brunt of it. Similarly, your stress trigger might be inability to read or watch TV or to have a cup of tea with friends or to chat with your sister or mom.
Whatever it is, identify your stressors (anything except stepping out of the house J) and plan your day in such a way that you are able to avoid feeding them.
On the same lines, we have our de-stressors too. Things we enjoy working or activities that relax our minds. Again, identify such things and try accommodating these in your busy schedule, even if for a compromised duration. In my case, listening to music while during chores likes sweeping, mopping, cooking etc lifts my spirits. Music does wonders to your senses and soothes you gently. Try playing background music while doing your daily tasks. It could be songs, instrumental or religious hymns- music has no language.
Bury your stressors!
When we do something for ourselves, we instantly feel good, don’t we? Exercise is one such activity that is completely personal and immediately lifts our mood. Serotonin is released in our body that enhances our sense of satisfaction.
With walking restricted within the premises of the house, you could practice few minutes of yoga, stretching, aerobics, Zumba or dance. Spare those 30 minutes for your daily dose of serotonin to keep you going through the day. It’s worth it!
Meditation is believed to instill a tremendous sense of calmness, acceptance and contentment in us. Remember how those few minutes of prayer in the school made us forget all our worries for exams or work not done? We may have grown up but that faith in the highest power is still capable of easing our suspicions.
Some of us believe in destiny and God while some of us don’t. But we all know that when things go out of our hands, we should leave them in the hands of God! I’m certain that God wouldn’t want His entire creation, the beauty blossoming in every form of nature, to remain unappreciated for a long time J Let’s invoke His blessings.
- Curb negative news
Information and awareness of happenings around the world is crucial at this time but information overload isn’t. Our mind has limited processing capacity. If we provide too much information to our mind, it will stop applying its filters and absorb whatever is being offered to it. If all we are pumping in, is negative news then how likely is it to feel or behave in a cheerful manner?
It may not be a celebration time but is it necessary to mourn or complain all the time?
Filter your information resources, assess what you feed your mind and if need be, switch off for few hours a day. Do you really need an hourly update on every casualty arising out of the pandemic in every corner of the world?
Rumi said, “The art of knowing is knowing what to ignore.” Trust the wisdom of the saint!
- Indulge in hobbies
Didn’t you wish you had some time to explore your interests?
Where is that never-ending “To be read” list?
Didn’t you wish last summer that you had the time to paint like your friend did?
What about that habit of writing diary that you pursued in your teens/ youth? Why not create a COVID experience diary?
And yes, that online baking course that you had even registered but couldn’t continue?
Not to forget sharpening your technical skills!
Now’s the time my dear! Utilize the time to do all the things that you had once desired but couldn’t manage in the maddening race of life. It’s likely to give a sense of accomplishment that is much needed at this hour.
- Enjoy family time
And of course, just enjoy being with your family.
I know we are not in the habit of living with family 24×7 for weeks but treasure the experience that life is offering you. We often crave for quality time, for few hours of relaxed chat with our family members, for playing antakshari/ tambola/ board games as a family. Be grateful for it now. Turn your living room into playground. Ping-Pong, cricket, Pickle Ball, Squap- my children are playing everything in the living room.
May be God was unhappy to see all families scattered and engrossed in their routines.
Maybe we wanted a reminder to cherish the value of holding hands, hugging and living together.
Maybe animals and birds wanted to reclaim their share of Earth.
Whatever the reason may have been, if each of us contributes to the collective pool of humanity and stays positive and helpful, I’m certain we will sail through this catastrophe too. Let’s be a flowing stream!
“In the confrontation between the stream and the rock, the stream always wins- not through strength but by perseverance.” – H. Jackson Brow