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Life beyond the pandemic: Rebuilding ourselves, inside and out

The mental health impact of the pandemic has been enormous, but life has also jolted us out of the autopilot mode and has given a chance to rebuild better, says Dr Samir Parikh, Director, Fortis National Mental Health Programme.

Anxious about our own safety as well as that of friends and families, we have all faced losses in the form of loved ones, a means of livelihood, opportunities or even our basic sense of security. (Image: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Written by Dr Samir Parikh

Life is a series of ups and downs, without which it would simply flatline. In our times, there is perhaps no better lesson in the sheer uncertainty of life than the last two years usurped by the Covid-19 pandemic. Anxious about our own safety as well as that of friends and families, we have all faced losses in the form of loved ones, a means of livelihood, opportunities or even our basic sense of security.

Amid all this came the boost in digitisation and tele-health, the freedom of remote working, greater recognition of our impact on the environment, innovations in medical science and, most importantly, the realisation that we need to course-correct. In a way, our sense of connectedness grew – the understanding that it was the people around us, our neighbours, friends, family and colleagues, who stood by each other for support in such trying times.

Building resilience

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To be resilient does not mean that we do not feel pain or that we do not struggle with the stressors that come our way. To be resilient is, in fact, to bounce back from the curveballs that life throws at us and find ways in which those opportunities can help us grow and become better versions of ourselves.

Prior to the pandemic, we had been leading increasingly disconnected lives – from the environment around us, the people who lived next to us, and most of all, from our own selves. But life jolted us out of the autopilot mode we had been living in and gave us an opportunity to build back better. At the end of the day, building a resilient future boils down to building a more connected one.

Let us start reconnecting with nature first. Covid-19 has taught us the value of parks over parking lots. There is no substitute for sunshine and fresh air to cheer you up. So, even if the fitness drill is not your thing, a simple walk in the neighbourhood can lift your spirits. Sit under the shade of a tree, listen to the birds chirp and feel nature’s energy surge through you.

We cannot talk about our surroundings without mentioning our family, neighbours or our community, a strong element of our social fabric neglected over time. So the next time you step out of the house, how about taking off those headphones and putting away smartphones? Instead, smile, wave or exchange a kind word with those around. Such simple acts erode your own sense of isolation.


None of this is possible without the one connection that matters the most, that to one’s own self. Prioritise physical health; think about the things that give you happiness and contentment. Chase purpose rather than promotions. Take a moment to think about how you would want to lead your life, the values and principles most important to you, and let your actions be steered by these values instead.

How to think positive

We are now two years into this pandemic. The history books are yet to be written and we need to think long and hard about the story that we want to tell our children. Will it be one of loss, greed and loneliness? Or an account of human spirit, resilience and hope?

First published on: 07-06-2022 at 07:21:58 pm
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