BE THE LIFE OF YOUR OWN PARTY
There is no doubt, that solitude for an extended, and unknown, length of time was the biggest challenge for many of us during the lockdown. The prospect of having to spend months on end stuck in a house with few options for entertainment was initially daunting, but then again isn’t necessity supposed to be the mother of invention?
For many folks, it took a few weeks to get over the shock, and gradually, as the gravity of the situation sunk in, acceptance followed. For some, it may have taken just a little longer to achieve that acceptance, but after much aimless milling about they finally got themselves into gear.
Most people I spoke to on the issue however related to me their stories of how they eventually learned to enjoy their own company. The lockdown it seems was the perfect opportunity to engage in some much needed soul searching, and wade through the depths of our own selves to come up with our tailor-made coping systems, because gone were the days of having the physical presence of a large friend circle to help you with that.
So the first lesson I learned, was how to be the life of my own party. I ended up throwing together a list of things I love doing, and drew up a schedule for my week. The list included things like reading a specific book for a couple of hours each day, spend an hour or two looking for new music to listen to, watching a tutorial, look for a new recipe involving whatever I had on hand, and many others as well. However, the biggest battle I faced was in fact the urge to not do anything at all and just stagnate while waiting for the lockdown to end. It was a very fine line that in hindsight I am glad I never crossed.
Experts believe that using the schedule method is one of the most effective ways to cope with cabin fever, because the lack of a routine can lead to increased dissatisfaction and even depression. Further, having a regular schedule also improves sleep, by reprogramming your body clock. Hence, the next time lockdown comes around (God forbid), create a schedule of tasks and fun-filled activities in advance to gain a sense of control and help you alleviate anxiety. Your schedule should ideally include allotted time for exercise, mindfulness, socialisation, and learning as well for the best results.
MINDFULNESS DESTROYS DISHARMONY
Those living with family however, have a very different take on the issue. After years of living through a routine where the family home was just a place to fall asleep and have an occasional meal, the prospect of spending three whole months locked in with a family seemed at first to be akin to a well-deserved holiday. However, as the weeks dragged on the illusion begins to dissipate.
After the initial honeymoon period, having to conform to a schedule that you have no control over, becomes more of task than you think. This leads to irritability, frustration at not being in control, and shorter tempers, that ultimately serves to destroy the harmony of your home.
This situation was even more challenging to those who were forced to move in with older family members unable able to cope alone. One person who was faced with such a situation cited having a feeling of despair after the first couple of months, fearing that the temporary situation may just become permanent after lockdown ends.
Having your independence threatened by unforeseen forces can be a very stressful experience. Hence, knowing how to balance your independence and responsibilities, tempered with a big dose of understanding, is key to building a healthy relationship and maintaining your own sanity.
Therefore, mindfulness is key. Taking a deep breath and pausing before reacting, is also a good way to preserve your sanity. After all, isn’t the whole point of taking on such a challenging time your own personal growth? If you succeeded in achieving mindfulness throughout the lockdown, you deserve a pat on your back for learning the most important lesson anyone could have.
LOCKDOWN FATIGUE IS A THING
What is lockdown fatigue? If you’ve experienced a rollercoaster of emotions and feelings, combined with underlying anxiety, future uncertainty and a lack of control over part of your life throughout the lockdown, then you now have a name for that feeling.
Experts say that this can also be characterised by symptoms such as oversleeping, changes in appetite, weight gain, and tiredness or low energy.
Some have described these symptoms as “brain fog,” and have also noted a marked decrease in short term memory as well. Hence, recognising the symptoms and acting on them before you fall too deep into the abyss is the first step to recovery.
The second step is knowing how combat it. Medical professionals say that the best way to begin the recovery process is to improve your sleep cycle. Key to this is reaching a balanced sleep-wake cycle, because it provides an “anchor” in the day that allows us to give our circadian rhythms a chance to get to work and have a positive effect on energy levels, emotional balance, and hormonal regulation.
Further, disconnecting from technology, media, high-intensity activities, and embracing more mindful activities will help you de-stimulate and relax, which improves your body’s ability to relax and get ready for a well-deserved rest.
SAVING MONEY ISN’T THAT HARD
One of the most startling realisations I arrived at, through the first wave’s three-month lockdown, is that I spend way too much money socialising such as going out, drinking, shopping, or even ordering in food.
For the first time in my life, I actually ended up saving money by staying home and being restricted. True, it’s not the most enjoyable way to end up with extra cash, but then again I realised that my priorities were badly in need of a reassessment. My priority list right now, post-lockdown, has been trimmed down, and this has set the foundation for what I hopefully be a year of a healthy bank balance.
My biggest savings actually came from taking the time to cook my meals, which I calculated at around a staggering Rs.15,000 each month just on delivery options. Mind you, this is just one of the many areas that required trimming.
Hence, if you have some cash to spare at the end of the month during this time, it’s also important to consider a good home for it to grow. I have come across a couple of people who have chosen the stock market as a destination for their extra cash. With the recent digitalisation of the CSE, with a trading app launched as well, the doors have been opened for people like you and me to make our money grow.
So if you haven’t started reassessing your spending habits in the new normal, then I think it’s time you did, because after all we are living in probably the most uncertain time of this century. Just the right time to start a little nest egg of your own.
THE CHALLENGE OF SELF-MOTIVATION
For those of you who experienced working from home for the first time in their lives, the idea may have been exciting, but the reality was far from it. I’m an old hand at working from my den. Having worked for two years as a freelance writer, I know the dangers of getting too comfortable with my home surroundings, and not to mention the innumerable distractions a home front offers.
To have the discipline to push yourself and remain immune to the call of lethargy takes an iron will, and will reveal some startling truths about yourselves. However, getting it right at the outset is key, because designing your personal work space and schedule, and motivating yourself to stick to it for the two weeks required to settle into a routine only takes persistence.
In contrast, the plus points in working in an office environment is that you hardly have to motivate yourself – that’s what your superiors do. Also, having colleagues to interact with also sweeps you up in the moment and syncs you with the office energy and buzz. That is a key aspect that we don’t realise has such a bearing on how productive we are. Having taken this for granted in the past, and also having come to such a realisation early on, my efforts at self-motivation were backed with a large dose of commitment, which is the fundamental building block to success I believe. However, at the end of the day, it all comes down to character and mettle, because if you can’t motivate yourself, then is there really a point?