DR JAMUNA RAJESWARAN
Prof & Head Clinical Neuropsychology and Cognitive
Neuroscience Centre Department of Clinical
In the last sixteen months, a lot has changed in our lives.The pandemic phase started with fear and anxiety of the unknown. For those below the poverty line, the main fear was to not get the basic essentials of survival. The prolonged period and uncertainty of the future made it difficult for even those who had food and shelter. The constant worry for self and family, the news reports on chaos and deaths, exhausted the strength to listen to every story of loss and pain. During this time people came up with coping strategies and started looking for distractions in re-discovering their lost hobbies or creating new hobbies. We also saw a lot of shifts from offline to online mode, from 'morning wake hours' to 'night wake hours', from increased cooperation of helping with chores at home to increased domestic violence, and so on and so forth.
These experiences bring with it some learning and here are the ten lifestyle changes that one should make and stick with them even post-pandemic:
1. Pause, reflect, re-assure from the right source: In an anxious state, the decision-making ability is compromised. Over and above if individuals rely on rumours, it leads us into confusion. Hence it is important that we first calm ourselves and make it a habit to check the legitimacy and authenticity of information before reacting.
2. Have a Work-Home Routine: As one does not have to hurry to reach the workplace, we started to sleep till late and binge-watching movies whole night. The schedules for work and rest gotdisorganized. So it is better to have a routine for work as well as tasks of daily living. This will help with work-life balance.
3. Focus on Sleep Hygiene: Irregular times of sleeping and waking up started to interfere with the sleep cycle and this resulted in sleep difficulties such as delayed sleep phase, insomnia, and so on. After the lockdown opened, this became even more problematic as it started to further interfere with the work/ school/ household tasks timings. Therefore having set time for going to bed and waking up would definitely improve the sleep quality and thereby enhancing the well being of the individuals.
4. Eating Healthy and On Time:Â During lockdown another pandemic of obesity has come up. Many people have gained weight, the reason being not having a fixed time for eating. Eating was used as method to overcome boredom. Availability to food delivery applications has made it even worse. Availability of food at the press of a buttonattracted to order the finger-licking junk food and save oneself from cooking a healthy meal. So having healthy food and eating at prescribed time is very important.
5. Exercising is even more important: Shedding off extra kilos is not an easy task. Continuous sitting during work from home resulted in aches and pain in the body. The reason is not having enough physical activity. Thus making it a routine to do some stretching exercise, on the spot jogging,yoga etc., is beneficial.
6. Relaxation and Meditation were never more important: The pandemic has become synonymous with anxiety, fear and worries. Deep breathing, meditation, and mindfulness: these are very effective ways to calm the body and mind to provide the blood with enough oxygen and the mind with better focus. A deep breath in is a simple and good way to increase the oxygen level which helps in fight-or-flight response and a deep breath out helps the body relax and calm down. Mindfulness helps one to focus on the present and be fully aware of the here and now and meditation helps with the focus which is essential to notice the worrisome thoughts and stop the cycle of worrying and then lead to thinking of solutions and alternative solutions.
7. Spend Judiciously: Job losses are common during pandemic and many people grappled with financial instability. Lockdown also made us realize how much we have hoarded. So, spend mindfully and save enough to last at least one more year. Think before buying anything and have a balance between earning, spending, and saving.
8. Invest in relationships: Lockdown resulted in confining in our houses, spending time with our family and friends. Spend time productively, keep a check on emotions and get involved in jobs without and gender difference. Capitalise your energies in relationship positively as it will always give you good returns.
9. Virtue of Gratitude: These times taught us to respect what we have. Often we take things for granted or not even notice our own privileges. It is important that we realize that we donâ€™t need a pandemic to count our blessings. Also, when we show gratitude, it generates a good feeling within us. Feeling good is really important in battling the negatives.
10. Lending a Helping Hand to Others:COVID-19 virus didnâ€™t differentiate between people. Everyone was equally at risk. Some more privileged and other were less. Therefore, community welfare and taking care of each other are essential to growth and evolution. Humans are social animals, and in unity, they will seek progress in all spheres of life.
How to stay calm in the midst of chaos ?
One of natureâ€™s laws is â€œChaosâ€. Chaos is also part and parcel of life. Sometimes life is hard and it seems very difficult. Things will be difficult in hard times but small changes can make a huge difference in your life. Dealing with chaos is a skill to learn in order to find calmness in your life. We are providing you some useful tips to find out calmness in the midst of chaos.
Adapt to change: Nobody wants to leave the comfort to which we have become so accustomed. But the fact is change is an inevitable part of life. Our minds will be bombarded with many things that prevent us from accepting the change. Resistance to change creates emotional and behavioral issues. Remember you canâ€™t move forward if you are not willing to accept the change.
Let thoughts pass like clouds floating by in the blue sky: There might be a series of negative thoughts running and you are often carried away by those thoughts. Hold ON!!!! All of your thoughts are not facts. They are simply thoughts passing through your mind.Â Â Let thoughts pass like clouds floating by in the blue sky.Â It doesnâ€™t mean that you have to pretend that you arenâ€™t concerned. It means that goes ahead and acknowledges what you are feeling or thinking. You are a human being after all and thoughts are normal. When we acknowledge what we are thinking, it creates an opportunity to move forward.
Emotions; Itâ€™s all good: There are no good and bad emotions. All emotions are worthy and tell us about ourselves and the situation.Â The best way to calm yourself in tough times is that train yourself to touch with your own emotion. But donâ€™t judge your feelings- just keep noticing and naming them.
Be mindful: Mindfulness is paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment without judgment. As the waves of the sea to a shore, we cannot stop the waves from coming to the shore, but if we let them be, they would just go back as they had come. To get started with mindfulness the following steps can be practiced initially and incorporate slowly in all activities we do:
Sit in a comfortable position
Feel the sensations from all sensory organs â€“ what you see, what you hear, how the touch feels, what you smell, and the taste in your mouth.
Notice the thoughts, emotions coming to your mind.
Do not try to fight them or change them, but just accept them.Your mind will inevitably wander off, try to bring back your attention to the present moment using your sense organs.
Connect with nature: Nature is the best way to stay calm in tough times. With social distancing, we might have a tendency to just stay indoors but still, nature provides us with wonderful ways to find calm. Thatâ€™s because human beings are hardwired to connect nature. If you practice appropriate social distancing you can still take advantage of all the benefits the outdoors has to offer such as gardening, imaginative walk through nature, listening to nature sounds.
Connect with your hobbies: Hobbies are seen as a marker of a balanced person who has multiple roles and responsibilities in life . Having a hobby brings joy and calmness to your life. Look within yourself and involve in a hobby that you are passionate about.
â€œ In all Chaos, there is a cosmos, In all disorder there is a secret order â€œ - Carl Jung