I always believed ‘home is where the heart is’ applied to me more than anyone else. At the end of every week and especially after my long commute to work, I always wanted to spend the weekend watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and curl up in my blanket. I was the ‘serial ditcher’ of my friend group. I cannot even begin to count the number of times I wished I could work from home or that I had no ‘going out’ plans on the weekend.
And then, the pandemic hit the world. It’s one thing to choose to not leave the house and another to not even have a choice. As human beings, we really detest the idea of having no control over our decisions. I definitely agree that the lockdown and self quarantine was necessary, but I didn’t even realise how gravely and rapidly it affected me mentally.
It was about a week into lockdown when I started feeling really sick. I had a sore throat and I felt really weak. Of course, my parents panicked and thought I possibly had the virus, and then of course we spent everyday being anxious about it. Much to everyone’s relief, I didn’t have it. My interactions with everyone at home reduced and I struggled to cope at work. I didn’t ever feel like attending Zoom parties with my friends and I ate very little. I just felt so out of it.
Everyday seemed so mundane with nothing to look forward to. I began overthinking every issue I possibly ever had and the sleepless nights made me irritable through the day. Everyone at home just thought I was sick but I knew it was much more. I knew my mental health had taken a toll on me and I was displaying my symptoms physically.
During this time, and luckily for me, my workplace held a mental health session and it definitely helped to voice my thoughts out loud. What helped more is when I realised I wasn’t alone. Ishita Pateria, the therapist, gave us a few tips that made me feel more at ease.
So if anyone reading this has experienced the same feelings I did, here’s a few things I thought were particularly helpful:
- Pause and ask yourself what you are even overthinking about. Is it important for you to think about that now? If this event that is stressing you out is only going to take place a few hours later, then postpone the worrisome thoughts. Let your mind breathe between.
- I felt like I could not control my negative thoughts. They varied right from thinking I had the virus and I would infect my family to I can’t complete my work. I was advised to refrain from engaging in negative conversations.
Instead I could ask myself what I could do on a day to day basis to make myself happy. It could be as simple as playing Taboo with my family or baking a cake – cliche`, I know, but maybe it’s cliche` for a reason!
Speaking about what we’re going through is important, but to go on and on about it isn’t and it’s important to understand the difference.
- We may feel like we aren’t being as productive as we would have liked but it’s important to cut ourselves some slack.
Try making a to-do list and giving yourself some bandwidth to do everything on it. Take breaks after each task. When it’s time to perform that task on your list, put away other thoughts and of course, electronics.
- A huge part of my job involves being creative, and being stuck in the same place reduces those moments of inspiration. My coworker who is a designer asked what she could do about this, and Ishita suggested looking for happier and more creative things happening in the world, and to seek inspiration from other innovative pieces of work in our own fields.
If we allowed our lives to be slightly less Covid-centric, there would be more motivating and awakening things we could come across.
- And the last but the hardest of all – try to consciously calm your mind.
I realised that if I simply try to pause all my negative thoughts for just a moment and think about everything that I have to be grateful for – one being having enough food and a roof over my head – they will outweigh all that’s bogging me down.
It’s taken me a while to feel close to well again but there’s some solace in knowing we’re in this together. I promise every small eyelash hair that falls on my hand is only being blown asking for one thing: they say that you shouldn’t tell anyone what you wish for or it won’t come true. So all I’ll say is that I can’t wait for the day I see my friends, sit at lunch with my colleagues and go to my favourite restaurants again. I can’t wait to have it all back.
By Anushka Shah