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Saturday, October 24, 2020

Matters of the Mind: Pandemic 2020, a truly life-changing experience

In the wake of this deadly pandemic, we have found ourselves a voice, a mind and the resolve to prioritise health, happiness, realisation of what and who we value the most, and even if some haven’t so far, at least we know the revolution has begun

Written by Dr Shwetambara Sabharwal | Mumbai | October 16, 2020 11:40:56 am
coronavirus, pandemic, covid pandemic, mental health, healthy living, menta health corona, matters of the mind, dr shwetambara sabharwal, exercise coronavirus, indian express lifestyle, indian express newsCovid-19 exposed us to many changes all at once. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

In the last few months of therapy and interactions with people across the globe, I have heard of people moving homes and countries, choosing to homeschool children, mending and healing relationships, choosing minimalism, quitting jobs and discovering new passions or following their long-buried dreams. This crisis led a lot of us to take notice that what we were constantly “invested in” or “distracted with”, was trying to control things around us, an idea Covid-19 shattered, loud enough for the world to hear.

Covid 19 exposed us to many changes all at once. Staying home all day, for several days, with kids and family, working out of home, staying indoors, no weekend roadside chaat, having to wash hands multiple times a day and no socialising. Probably the hardest one for us Indians, is maintaining a two-arm distance from others and not breathing down the neck of the person ahead of us in a line. These are only a few in the list of many adjustments.

ALSO READ | Matters of the Mind: The business of finding happiness

As we made these lifestyle and behavioural changes, we swallowed the tough pills of loss of control, limited freedom, harder physical labour, social isolation, ambiguity and loss. One of the biggest emotional ordeals the world felt in waves was fear. The virus poked and tugged at some vulnerability in us all. As it stealthily penetrated all borders, air, land and sea, leaving no cave or cover for safety, one thing became crystal clear, the world as we knew it, was going to change.

With subjective circumstances and abilities to cope, we learnt new ways of living, working, surviving, nurturing and communicating the best we could, initially with much gusto. There was a sudden shift in active neuronal pathways and staying home, cuddling kids and walking aimlessly around the house in pyjamas was gratifying. Videos of celebrities sweeping homes, baking cakes and cooking curry became a way of saying, “We have got this”.

sleep, quality of sleep, importance of sleep, sleep indian express lifestyle, how much should you sleep Nutrition, better quality of sleep, exercise, yoga, meditation and breathwork have become irreplaceable for a healthy lifestyle. (Photo: Getty Images/Thinkstock)

Covid-19, unencumbered by racial injustice, Bollywood scandals, US elections and human violence comparable to the virus’s own sinister intent and exploitation, proliferated and shook us some more. Pushed to the edge of endurance, fear for our loved ones, uncertainty no matter how much we tried to get a grasp around our tomorrows, we were forced to learn and stretch new muscles to quieten ourselves, cope and survive.

Alongside, something else happened. Arrested in the quiet of our concrete home and mental walls, hearing our inner voices, uninterrupted by social chatter or peer pressure, caressing our partners and holding our children without being elbowed by external distractions, observing our breath and realising how that is the only most precious possession we have, we found ourselves awakening to deeper realisations. We began questioning, reviewing, rewiring and finally focussing on what matters the most.

ALSO READ | Matters of the Mind: Self-discipline is a necessary tool to overcome crisis

There has been a significant tide-shift on mental health awareness, a kind I honestly did not think I would see in my lifetime. Ironically, it took a perilous threat to the “body” for us to understand that the quality of our life depends upon health, attitude and grit of the “mind”. Depression, anxiety, PTSD and emotional wellbeing have become admissible conversations and therapy is being spoken of as a valuable intervention. Emotions and empathy have drawn the attention of corporates, news and magazines. Social media is inundated with content on healing, health, family and growth. School children suddenly want to opt for psychology as it a worthy career option.

Nutrition, better quality of sleep, exercise, yoga, meditation and breathwork have become irreplaceable for a healthy lifestyle. The Bhagavad Gita, Rig Ved and Yoga-sutra by Rishi Patanjali have listed the benefits and powers in yoga and meditation but paradoxically it is the pandemic of 2020 that will go down in history as having brought about a health revolution.

In the wake of this pandemic, we have found ourselves a voice, a mind and the resolve to prioritise health, happiness, realisation of what and who we value the most, and even if some haven’t so far, at least we know the revolution has begun.

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