How are you? And you always get the banal reply – all well/I’m fine/Good, and how are you?
But really, how are you?
It’s not in our Indian nature to let our guard down or show ‘weakness’ by responding with even a hint of vulnerability. Even in these absurd times, when the future seems so uncertain.
This pandemic IS stressful. The disease is new, the doctors and researchers still don’t have a good grip on it and world leaders don’t seem to get it. In India we’ve seen massive human struggle, with migrant workers making their way back home on foot, being treated in inhuman ways, the poor struggling with wages being cut or disappearing completely, doctors and nurses working endless hours without the necessary protection, food or rest, stretched and lacking medical infrastructure. The list is long.
Watching the stories unfold about others, makes us anxious about our own future. There’s no predicting how severely or mildly you may be struck, when you get it.
It’s overwhelming and you’re bound to feel strong emotions inside you. Let’s just call out a few, so you know you aren’t the only one feeling this way:
- fear and worry about your health and the health of your loved ones
- worry about family members far away from you
- worry about your financial situation
- anxiety about your job
- difficulty in sleeping
- difficulty in concentrating
- increased use of alcohol
- feeling alone and isolated
Self care and the care of those in your household, is paramount.
Building physical resilience is important. Eating and exercising in a healthy manner, cutting out excesses of both. Keeping those immunity levels high, is top of the list for you and your loved ones. Do what ever is possible to keep yourself physically safe by washing your hands, wearing a mask and socially distancing. Let go of what you can’t control.
Building emotional resilience is important too. We need to be aware of what is stressing us and reduce it to manageable levels. Now how do we do that?
- Cut down on unnecessary spending. Be thrifty in your use of everything at home, whether it’s food or drink or cleaning products or anything else. Cut out excesses.
- Reduce the number of things you’re doing. Make list of all that needs to be done everyday, prioritise the tasks and plan your day. Don’t forget to add tasks that spark joy to that list. Planning your day reduces anxiety about how you’re going to get all your work done. Cutting off unnecessary tasks from your list, helps you to focus on the important ones and do them well.
- Create a space just for you. Could be a table in the kitchen, or a chair in the balcony, or a space on the terrace. Make the space feel special, with a potted plant or a pretty jug with flowers, or a fragrant candle that refreshes the space or a comfortable cushion or a pile of your favourite books or a basket with wool and knitting needles. A space just for you, to get away and unwind and relax.
- Create a trusted network of people you can speak to or reach out to. This may include members of your family, or may be friends from work or where you study. Old friends or even new, people you trust, people who lift your spirits, people who make you feel good. May be just one person, may be more. Keep in touch with them, with the occasional message or call.
- Pay attention to others. Be patient with others. Everyone around you is feeling the same anxiety and fear. So be there for your friends and family. Be the warmth they need. Doing that will make you feel better too.