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May 2021

Your Mind Matters! Tips on navigating the crisis.

As I write this, India is witnessing the worst of the pandemic—given the rising number of cases, the new strains, shortage of vaccines, and a crumbling health infrastructure. I speak from my own experience of spending hours on end trying to help friends and their families arrange medicines, a hospital bed or even oxygen concentrators. We are rendered helpless.

Times are tough and we need all the support we can get. Dealing with the stress of disease, losing a job, or the loss of a colleague or friend is telling on our mental health.

I consider myself lucky to be a part of an organization that has its heart in the right place. Having to focus on a job despite these stress factors is not easy. It requires a strong will to move on with the day and a profound sense of understanding on behalf of your partners to see this to the end.

I am learning to navigate my way through the mayhem and trying to maintain a sense of normalcy—not only for myself but so I can continue helping the people around me as much as possible. This is how I do ensure I take care of my mental health:

Accepting that Stress is normal! It is perfectly okay to feel stressed and anxious in these circumstances. Recognizing this has allowed me to deal with it better. Feeling distracted, unable to concentrate is all a part of what we are facing. Allow yourself to feel your emotions and ask for help if required—that is the only way to get around it and conquer it.

Ensure time off from television/WhatsApp and news related to Covid-19. This is non-negotiable! Take time off to unwind and regain your positive energy which will help you through these times. Instead, spend time on helping those in need around you. Remember tough times do not last, tough people do!

Learning to breathe: This is something I never paid any attention to before the pandemic. Breathing is something that I always took for granted! Start with baby steps and focus on your breathing for 10 minutes daily to help you feel alive and build resilience. I would recommend meditation too for people who can do it. My mind, of course, seems to wander off in a hundred different directions when I try it, but meditation is about acknowledging all those thoughts and finding a way to breathe with them and through them.

Short breaks between work: The pandemic has forced us all to spend more time on the computer—be it presentations, work, or zoom meetings. All this has limited our movement, so, I make it a point to take 10 minutes just to walk around and stretch myself and exercise my neck muscles at least every 2 hours. It is important to walk even if you cannot step out.

Listen to Music or Read a Book: It is a personal choice! It just calms my mind and rejuvenates me. I am sure it would do the same for you!

Outreach: I feel blessed to be in a profession that I enjoy. It gives me the opportunity to reach out and talk to people, build relationships, some of which have continued for over 21 years of my career. If your profession is different, it does not matter. Connect with people and reach out to friends and family! This is a time to let them know you are thinking of them in a time of crisis. My conversations & friendships have always helped me heal!

Offer help in any way you can: Millions are going through tougher times than we can imagine. Some of us are more privileged than the others. If each one of us took it upon ourselves to lend a helping hand, make a phone call to find a medicine or doctor, donate or volunteer, we would feel and be useful. This is therapeutic!

The world is facing a crisis of gigantic proportions. This is a moment that will try our strength, our beliefs, our tenacity. Let us gather all our strength and take each day at a time until we meet on the other side, safe and together.