It’s a pandemic and the numbers are horrifying. Most of us are panicked, cornered into our homes. The world is not what it used to be and it became so in a matter of a couple of months. Even those who love being indoors are beginning to wish for a picnic. I am someone who gets out only when necessary and my work time is just 2–3 hours a day which is inside another cabin (the clinic). India moved into a national 21-day lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19 which was due to end on April 14th, but the government has announced another two weeks of lockdown until May 3rd.
Many have been complaining already, so this is going to be harder on them. But should we be really complaining? To me, this is literally the first vacation I am having in three years. I was always all over the place, giving up my smaller interests to get my priorities done. But now, I have time to watch movies, sleep as much as I want, bake and read more and write more. This is heavenly for someone who is not so keen to be outdoors or hang out with friends. However, that’s not the case with the majority out there.
I was discussing the possible aftermath of this lockdown time with a friend and we both came across the same thought — there’s going to be a lot of people on the verge of a breakdown, or even depression when all of this is over. Humans are social animals and with exceptions, socializing is a necessity for emotional, cognitive and mental growth, and sustenance. Isolation is not natural to us. Therapists and counselors are likely to have a hike in clientele because of how undoing this time period has been. While some people may suffer from isolation, some may be stuck with people they don’t wish to be with. Memes about how the lockdown is going to result in many divorces is a dark possibility.
So, I thought, if a few ideas I find to be practical can help somebody out there (well, in there, literally), why not share them?
This list doesn’t mean to put the onus of being positive on you, because, trust me, during these times, it is enough to survive and stay alive. It is all right to feel low and unmotivated and you don’t need to push yourself too far. But when there are people who cannot find three meals a day, let alone their own homes to practice social distancing and personal hygiene, the least that we privileged people can do is to try.
Make Bucket Lists
There is no better time to make a bucket list than now. Bucket lists give you hope. Bucket lists make you think about the future. Bucket lists give you enough reasons to stay inside and fight this out because you are going to need you to fulfill them. Bucket lists make you dream.
So flip out your notepad on your phone or take a sticky note. Jot down the things you want to do, the places you want to go, the foods you want to eat, the people you want to connect or reconnect with, the books you want to read and the movies you want to watch. Think up newer prospects. Plan to make them possible. Research for your wish list and familiarize yourself with your own desires and goals. You are home. You have time in your hands. Bucket lists can be a good way to kickstart the day.
Explore your creative side
Not everyone out there is an artist or performer or writer. Not everyone has considered a creative pursuit or even thought that they were creative. A lot of us can do more than one thing. I write, I paint, I experiment with my capabilities. But that is not everyone. What if I say you have hidden talents? What if there was something you have always wanted to try but you didn’t believe you could do it?
Certain studies showed some persons developing a new gift or skill after a trauma or brain surgery. While the rest of the brain will try its best to compensate for the damage, it was also surprising to see that some patients developed artistic talents after the incident. Perhaps, we all have more sleeping talents than the ones we know about.
No, I am not saying you will be Da Vinci or Beethoven or Shakespeare overnight but don’t be scared to explore your creative side. Allow yourself to try something new. Everyone’s locked in their homes. Nobody’s going to watch you and judge you.
Keep a journal
You don’t have to be a writer to keep a journal and a journal doesn’t have to be a day-to-day account of your probably drab quarantine. It can be about anything. It could be a doodle sketchbook. It could be a recipe notebook. It could be a thought-recorder or idea-list or a gratitude journal. Your bucket list can be a part of this, too. A journal is a personal space. You can be you in it and vent the negative energy that could accumulate from staying inside.
While you are home and things are getting a little too boring, you can try rearranging the interiors. Move around the furniture and rearrange decor. This can help reset your mind, too, in a refreshing way. Sometimes to get things done, all you need is a fresh perspective. An active endeavor towards it, outside your brain, could move a few blocks into places.
Change the position of your desk. Push the bed against a different wall. Move the couch to the window and swap cupboard materials. Tidy up your abode. It has a cleansing effect on the mind, too. You would have used up your time efficiently and it counts as mild to moderate activity. Make a list of new additions you would like to add to your interior decor.
Reconnect with people and self
We all have people in our lives with whom we have lost touch. The reasons are many and some of them are lame excuses. You have been busy. They have been busy, too. Now, you have the time. Even if you are working from home, there is a lot of time saved from dressing up to go to the office, the traffic and the drive, the extended periods of shopping and the public hangouts.
So, make a list of all those people you have not checked on for a long time. There could be old friends, family, relatives, old colleagues. It is also an act of kindness and caring when you call them up and ask them how they are doing and whether they are safe. It could add warmth to your day to know that there are people who have thought about you as well. However, it might be a good idea to not include your exes on the list. Particularly, if you have had a bad separation. Regrets and what-ifs are more contagious than viruses.
An inevitable person to be put on the reconnect list is yourself. Yes, this is your battle. The person coming out of this isolation should be someone who knows the self and has reconnected with it. When life has been crazy, we all often forget to take care of ourselves. So, spend time on yourself. Forgive yourself. Pamper yourself. Put self-care as a high priority because you are not going to get this time again.
Do physical and mental workouts
There is a lot you can do at home. And one of them is working out. Workout your mind and body. There are a lot of workout videos on YouTube that you can try to stay fit. Or you can just intensify your chores. I am not launching into that arena because it has already been talked about a lot.
But here’s one workout you should not miss — the mental and emotional workout. Read. Read all those books getting dusty on your shelf. Read the newspaper. Read articles that will help you grow in all directions. Read to learn, discover, and just to know. Read fiction. Read because it is to the brain what the treadmill is to the body. It also helps to polish your imagination and refurbish your knowledge. Be careful not to hoard information. Information overload can ruin your mood and in turn, the lockdown.
Every morning when you wake up and every night when you go to bed, think of three things you are happy about, grateful for, or consider yourself lucky to be or have. It may be your tiny achievements. If you are a writer or artist who did a small piece of work, be happy you did that much. If you are a parent struggling with your kids and juggling them with the home, be grateful you have your kids with you because many don’t. If nothing, be glad that you are not out there fighting this deadly virus, exposing yourself to it, like the healthcare professionals are doing. It is important to know that, right now, being alive, being healthy, and being safe is something really immense.
There are many out there who do not even have bare necessities on hand but we are privileged enough to stay safe. The least we can do in a calamity like this is not complain and think of all the things that have been right for us.
Let’s stay strong and be grateful that we are able to write, read and share good vibes on various platforms including Medium. These dark times shall pass and soon, we will be out in the sun, out in our favorite mall, at the park, in the market, in school, and at our offices.
Months from now, looking back at this lockdown when we all stayed home and reconnected with our own selves the most, let’s hope that we will recognize this time as a life-changing one. We have the power to decide now whether it should be one with an impact or one that has eroded us into nothingness.
Condolences to those who have lost their dear ones to this pandemic and salute to the brave ones fighting it out there. Rest in peace to those who lost their lives to this war. Here’s wishing all a safe quarantine and passing on love and hope for a better tomorrow.