Mental Health in Isolation and during the Pandemic.
10 am: Wake up with a groggy pain in your head and all the thoughts of your due conference calls and zoom meetings come rushing into your mind, thinking that your boss may already be there waiting for you to join.
1:00 pm: You look across the pile of dirty dishes in your kitchen while making a mental list of things you can cook in 5 minutes except for Maggi because you already had it in breakfast.
5:00 pm: Looking outside the balcony you let your thoughts wander but for all, you’re afraid of your “empty-mind-thoughts” to take you on an anxiety ride. The anxiety of uncertainty and being in isolation for I don’t know how long.
8:00 pm: You contemplate all your life decisions and its cynical effect on you to go and text your ex.
12:02 am: You slip on your bed with the light of your phone’s screen illuminating your face while you toss and turn for sleep to come.
It is this wakeup-eat-work-sleep-repeat playing on a loop and every day it is the same song.
It has been few-actually, a lot of weeks since the nation has been put into lockdown due to the global pandemic COVID-19. We all are crawling our way into the next day with a repeat mode and this tends to take a toll on our mental health which we often neglect and assume to be a temporary bad-phase. Many of us have work from home to do while some are still struggling to find ways on how to be productive. Do we actually need to make the most out of this pandemic? Is being productive is the only thing we need to keep our sanity in place? Is this fear really temporary?
Here’s what I have to say which might not be the answers to your questions but some realizations.
The anxiety of being uncertain.
Human beings don’t like to be in uncertainty and that’s only natural. We are asking the big question that “When is this going to end?” while no one has the answer, not even the Coronavirus itself. Being in the never-ending state of uncertainty invites anxiety and fear of what is going to happen in the future. A worry of whether final year students will get one last glance of college or the businessmen having questions in their minds about the economy or just the people thinking when will they be able to see and meet their dear one. This is the hardest time for people who already have anxiety issues more often because now they are stuck with themselves and their thoughts. Everyone has their own happiness attractor which calms their mind and tames their anxiousness, it might include going out for a walk but now we don’t have that option to channel our happiness attractor since we are stuck at home.
The pressure to be productive.
The internet is filled with stories having GIFs that say “making the most” out of this so-called extra time we have in our hands by coercing. We are being judged for not being productive enough and with all the taglines of “this is the time to do” makes us fall into a trap of productivity loop. I heard this in a podcast which stated that often the judgment isn’t coming from someone else but from ourselves. We are putting immense pressure on ourselves to get back to reading, to do yoga, to achieve new every day, and to perform.
“There are days when you feel hyper-productive and there are days you will feel dead. You are new to confined living so embrace both of them.” said an artist Joseph Rajini Asir in an Instagram post. The definition of productivity is defined by yourself and not by someone else in conventional terms. This is the moment of being in present and sometimes being present means not doing anything and just the basic necessities to retain our sanity because at times like these what more important is to keep our sanity intact. Remember to focus on what brings you calmness and relaxation but not from the productivity point.
The joy in minimalism
We often realize the value of things when they are snatched away from us. Last night in a conversation with my friend we were discussing how do we all miss the privilege of having an option to go out and meet new people. We are now realizing the joy in minimalism, in simple things which used to make our day but were neglected amidst the bigger things in our lives. A hello from that guard uncle in the morning used to bring a smile on our faces and the usual peek at familiar faces of strangers traveling in the metro is now in our memory and not in our routine. In a world filled with uncertainty, even the basic of tasks like cleaning your room and talking to your friend through video calls fills us with joy now.
A pandemic becomes more challenging for us when we neglect our mental state and keep on being performative under that same mind space. I personally have been practicing mediation and journaling to keep my thoughts at one place and channel acceptance of what I feel and the foremost, to allow myself to feel. We should take this opportunity to re-learn how to fully feel and let go of the attachments to expectations and start being easy on ourselves. It is time to be unattached from the outcome and from the idea of becoming something and simply be okay with just being.