After an unusually exciting beginning to the year and our 2-year anniversary celebration, the world suddenly came to a standstill. While we had only begun to ease into the new year by March, so had the coronavirus, without most of us knowing. When the lockdown was put into effect in India on 26th March, the virus had already started to rip the world apart. And before we knew it, the engines screeched to a halt. Earth was closed for maintenance.
We went into the quarantine hoping that it would help contain the virus and things would gradually return to normal. Little did we realize then that there is only hoping and no hope.
It has been a month now since we have been officially confined in our homes. The accelerating case count has blown the roof. The tests that were expected to pick up speed have fallen short. The vaccine, even with ongoing human trials, is a long way from becoming available for mass use. In short, panic has set in.
Now because I am a borderline negativist, I have been finding myself scared out of wit’s end in the course of this lockdown. I am continuously checking the numbers on the news, reading up on recent developments (or lack of it), checking up on my parents every second, washing and sanitizing my hands red, anticipating bad news, thinking of worst case scenarios, amping up my stress levels and so on. To put it more bluntly, I have been falling apart. And this constant anxiety has been stripping off my energy and sanity. To my horror, I realized that I have been retreating into the mess of me that I have tried to carefully untangle over the years.
Now I know that most people out there are probably going through the same ordeal. The same anxiety, the same stress, the same fear, the same uncertainty. So, I decided to share some of the things that I have been doing to stay sane through this tough time. I hope it helps you too.
Acknowledging My Anxiety & Putting it into Perspective
We are in a mess. Big time. And there is no going back. Not now. Not ever. Sadly, there is nothing we can do about it now. Except panic. So I was talking to Maa the other day and she could sense that I wasn’t doing ok. She could see right through the brave front that I was trying to put up. Well, that’s how parents are. Then she told me something that has really helped. She said – the only thing you can do now is to acknowledge your current situation.
You see, we all know the situation. We’re all on top of the news. But are we trying to understand our role and our position in this? No. We are only looking at what can happen as opposed to what we have now and what we can do about it. That’s where most of my problem is. So, every time I find myself resorting to my old ways of panic, I do this exercise: I mentally try to pin point what exactly is bothering me. If it’s more than one, I make a mental list. For example, right now as I’m typing this out, I am thinking:
- The number of cases are rising so quickly.
- Why isn’t the rapid testing underway yet?
- A large percentage of the deceased (due to coronavirus) had diabetes and were aged around the sixties. Baba and Maa have diabetes. What if they contract the virus?
- TG had a red eye last week from a bit of cold. The redness has disappeared. But has the cold? The weather is also an ideal one for catching a cold.
- The economy is going through a landslide due to the pandemic. Is my job on the line?
Once I’ve acknowledged and validated my thoughts, I filter.
There is nothing I can do about the first two worries. My concern lies in the last three. So I think of the situation I’m in right now.
- My parents have enough food in the house to last more than a month. When they require a refill of groceries or medicine, they can call up the local shops and get them delivered at their doorstep. If that isn’t possible, they can always ask me to order online. Minimum contact with the outside. Fruits, vegetables and fish vendors are moving about frequently right in front of the house to buy from. So, they don’t need to go out. They are following safety measures at home, when they are buying stuff and when they unavoidably have to go out very rarely. So, my panic about them would be futile at this point of time. Maybe tomorrow I may have a reason, which I hope not, (and which I would definitely assess this way) but not today.
- TG does not have the red eye now. It doesn’t seem like he has the cold anymore. He isn’t exhibiting any symptoms of cold. He has had proper medication to quicken recovery. So there isn’t anything to worry about right now. And we are taking enough precautions to keep us from catching a cold.
- For the third point of concern, there is hardly anything I can do for the economy right now. As for my job, I am doing my part of the work. We are all trying to get our projects going and procure new ones. I haven’t received any bad news yet. So, I shouldn’t be worried yet.
You see, now that I have listed them out, I feel like a burden has been lifted off my chest. I’m breathing easier now.
A part of this exercise also requires you to focus on the good that is happening around us. People helping people. People lifting each other up. People helping the needy. Human trials of a potential vaccine has begun. The number of recovered cases is close to eight times the lost ones. Many people are growing antibodies to the virus in their bodies without too much medication. Air quality has improved significantly. We are taking a good long look at all that we took for granted all these years. Spending has reduced thus opening up money saving options. People are exercising more discipline than they have in many years.
An important task right now would be to memorize or write down the helplines numbers so that you know where to ask for help if, God forbid, any problem arises.
Working from Home
A large part of my day is consumed in office work. Thank God for work-from-home. It has been keeping my sanity intact a good deal. Thankfully, ours is a flexible workplace where the primary purpose is to complete the goals. This makes life a lot easier.
But however flexible, I like to maintain a 10 to 7 office timing so that I can plan the other activities of my day around that routine. Since the major part of the day is spent at the office, maintaining a set timing has helped enforce discipline in my day-to-day life and has ensured a healthy work-life balance.
In the next few parts of this quarantine blog series, you’ll see how a fixed office timing has helped.
Read Part 2 here.