Let me start this post using the five most commonly used words these days – we are witnessing unprecedented times. One disease wreaking havoc in most countries of the world is something most people liken to the Spanish Flu of 1918. Even though the timing there was impeccable coming on the heels of World War I, we survived that dark period as a human race and probably emerged stronger. Hundred years later, with much more advancement in medical science and on the surface of it, more peaceful times, I am pretty sure we will ride out this wave too, however rough. But, this lockdown is taking it’s own toll, without getting physical. Being stuck in a defined short radius, with only limited set of human beings and not engaged productively to the used-to level for weeks at end is no human’s idea of a jolly good time. In my two weeks of lockdown, I have devised some means to survive and preserve my sanity (to whatever level available and possible). I thought of penning those down in the hope that some ideas might just strike home and help some of my readers too.
1. Avoid gloomy news
This has to be the number one action point on my list. While one school of thought, headed by my father, believes this is a cowardly pigeon-like approach (yes, I have always called it ostrich-like but clearly that’s too grand an analogy), I have found it works wonders on my quest to self preservation. Every morning I google 2 or 3 things – “Coronavirus Italy” (to hope for a negative downward trend to start showing), “coronavirus India” (to see the latest and still keep in perspective that numbers are low enough), “coronavirus USA” (gotta check on family geography) and more positive feedback loops like “Does hot weather slow the spread of coronavirus?” to then avoid any and everything related to the C-word for the remaining part of the day. More importantly, I have consciously begun avoiding and deleting content from a bigger threat, namely Whatsapp. I am part of a big college alumni group which I have always been fond of for the kind of things they come up with, the recommendations and also in aiding my conscience for larger world matters. However, off late, I have started clearing those chats without reading through considering it was beginning to make me gloomy and anxious as well as rewarding me with clear signs of compassion fatigue. Before putting in too much time or mind space on any seemingly worrisome content I ask myself two questions – “Is it impacting me personally?” and “Is there any action I can take pursuant to this information?”
2. Keep engaged with work
I know a lot of people hate their jobs and their bosses and can’t stop imagining a time when they did not have to worry about money but could happily do nothing. In my mind, this time would have proved the fact that this is a fallacy. We do not work merely for the ting of salary being credited to our bank accounts every month. In some ways, I think what Descartes really meant in that famous quote of his was – “I work, therefore I am”. Continue looking at a regular schedule – breakfast at the same time, shower and sit down for work at a dedicated place away from the lure of the inducing tempting bed, break for lunch around the same time and get off the working seat in the evening. In case, work is not enough to fill your day, trust me there is enough great free learning out there thanks to the Internet. My favourite resource? Hands down, would have to be Coursera!
3. Ensure some fresh air every day
I had been cooped up in the house for approximately 3-4 days with zero stepping outside the house. I really did take PM Modi’s advise of treating the home threshold as lakshman rekha. At that point, I got admonished by my parents, accompanied by a bullet point list of reasons why getting some fresh air is vital. Suffice it to say, sometimes I do listen to them readily enough, only to yield good results. Every evening now, I take a few rounds of the apartment complex that I live in. The only surface I end up touching is the elevator button and enough distance is maintained from the bare minimum people we end up seeing outside at all. So all in all, it’s a fairly safe exercise with good returns of change of scene and fresh air to refresh the senses.
4. Get some exercise
This, I think is an important point with or without lockdown and involves moving your body more than the aforementioned evening walk. In some ways, during lockdown exercise is even more important. Not only do we end up over eating due to sheer availability, we can all do with a dose of endorphins. I have started a 30-day Yoga program on this uber popular Youtube channel called Yoga with Adriene where her calm voice and instruction really gives a good start to the day. Another favourite Youtube channel which has a great mix of HIIT, cardio, strength, yoga and pilates workouts of all duration is Fitness Blender. Spend atleast 15-20 minutes on your fitness every day and you are bound to get great returns on that investment.
5. Add an element of fun into boring tasks
This lockdown has brought in it’s wake social isolation and a horde of unwanted domestic tasks on the checklist. While I am doing my share of those, I am also trying to mix it up which has revealed some interesting discoveries. It turns out that head banging to loud, upbeat music makes for a great accompaniment to washing utensils. Podcasts also work really well while improving on cooking skills. If not music or podcasts, there would be something else that piques your interest which could make things more interesting for you. For instance, getting your kids introduced to the joy of baking.
6. Use the time to do things you never had time for
How many times have you lamented the fact that life has gotten too busy and you just did not have time to do things X, Y and Z? It could be learning to play the guitar, organising family pictures, or even writing that best seller brewing in your head for years. Well, what are you waiting for? Carpe diem or seize this opportunity so that at the end of the lockdown while embracing social freedom again you can also smile back at the things you did manage to get done.
7. Connect with your loved ones
While you feel you have a lot of time on hand, the good thing is you are not alone in this. Use this time to catch up with family and friends that you were earlier hard pressed to make the time for. I have seen so many screenshots of group chats happening with friends connecting across the globe. As for me, I am happy with a ramped up frequency of daily video calls with my family rather than the weekly ones with my sister and only voice calls with my folks.
The thing is, it is an unusual period for humans and none of us are happy about it. But, with every irritant in life, you can choose to make it far worse or try and put a positive spin to it. If like me, you are trying the latter, I hope some of the above mentioned ideas might help you in the quest.
What are you doing to make the lockdown sit easier on your mind? Let me know in the comments below. And of course, stay safe. We got this!