It’s day 8 of lockdown in India. For many, it might feel like an eternity has passed by instead of just a week. We appear to have successfully climbed the first step of Nirvana – A phase where we feel no difference between happy Sundays and blue Mondays. It’s all the same to us now.

Humans are “social” animals and therefore staying within the four walls of our home for days at a stretch is not an easy task. Many of us are already seeing the effects. On most days we are drained both physically and emotionally. People are affected psychologically as they have lost the things that normally keep them emotionally healthy. Like the weekly meetups with friends, the daily walk in a nearby park or the weekend short trips. Under normal circumstances, most people get through their hectic weeks loaded with office work, family problems, and financial issues, etc., because they know that the stressbusters are waiting for them at the end of the day/week. The load has now increased with having to work from home, worry about pay-cuts, lay-offs and health risks while they have lost their known way of letting off the steam.

There are many videos and blogs on how to deal with the physical inactivity (Home workout, yoga, dance and so on), there is very little said on safeguarding our mental health during these tough times.

Staying in for days at a stretch is in itself a challenging task for most people, to top it we are constantly bombarded with updates on the increase in the number of deaths and infected people worldwide. Our brains are forced to remain alert all the time. We have to think twice even before touching our faces. Some of us over-thinkers even go back in time and think of the times we missed washing our hands after standing in the balcony for an hour or taking a package from the delivery person. An occasional cough or sneeze has started to get us worried. While most are blessed with good sleep, many are turning insomniac due to physical inactivity, social distancing, and fear. This is further adding to their mental health instability.

People away from their families, living alone in a rented apartment are taking the worst hit. They are unable to express their fears to their loved once because they do not want their families and friends living far away to worry about them. Children are suffering too especially the ones without siblings. With elders busy working from home and tending to family’s needs, the children are often left by themselves amidst toys and television. Loneliness and depression have begun to disguise themselves as boredom and irritation.

There are many posts out there comparing our woes to that of our grandparents. While they were asked to fight in the war, we are asked to sit at home and relax. Though our situation is far better than theirs, it is not something we can completely ignore. Demons come in all different kinds and sizes.

In my opinion, the first step to deal with this is Acceptance. Instead of spending each day waiting for the 21 days lockdown to end (This can worsen our mental health in case the lockdown extends), we can spend each day accepting that this is how it is going to be for the next few weeks. Imagine you are in a reality show and your only goal is to come out of all this in a good, hopefully, better version of yourself. Click here to to know how to spend your days effectively.

Something that works for me is to constantly remind myself that we are doing this not just for ourselves but for the larger good. We are saving lives by staying safe at home.

While reading books, watching feel-good movies and binge-watching your favorite series is a good way to pass this time, there is only so much these can do for your mental health.

The two things that seemed to work wonders for me is a good workout early in the morning and talking to a friend or cousin late in the evening when I am completely drained of all my energy.

We only have to follow the “social distancing” norm. But there are many other media through which we can connect with our near and far loved ones. Bless the internet, we can connect with people thousands of miles away with just a few clicks.

Call up a friend or a colleague you know is living alone and was not able to go to his or her hometown because of the lockdown. Let them know you are there for them. If you have a group who haven’t been able to meet for a long time, make a video conference call and take turns to show each other how you been coping up over the last few days.

There have been numerous circumstances where the right call at the right time has saved lives. All it takes is a few good words to cheer someone up. And the best part? You don’t lose anything by doing so.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick up the phone and call that one person you have been meaning to call forever but just could not find the time to. It may just make his/her day, you never know.

Stay home, stay safe, stay happy. Good days are coming soon.

Signing off,

Ashwini Shenoy

Author of Shikhandini