How to survive the lockdown
There’s a monster in our midst. Everywhere we look, there it is -- staring right at us, daring us to undermine its power, just for an innocent, brave second. The internet works in miraculous ways -- giving us the chance to witness the rise and fall of giant, dancing furballs in about 12 hours. But the internet also makes the ominous presence of the monster known to us, in the form of news, warnings, or as memes. While jesting about serious issues such as a pandemic is a proven coping mechanism of people today, it does get a little too much when we’re all cooped up at home. So today, we’re not going to name the invisible monster.
Gone are the days when staying at home 24/7 was the norm. Yes, some of us still prefer the comforts of our homes instead of the anxiety that comes with being around people. However, we’d rather it were a conscious choice we made, than losing the option to go out completely. We’re “social beings”, as socially handicapped we may be as a generation, and the complete lack of some form of human contact can very quickly make us lose our minds. But there’s an emergency, so we’re all at home, trying our best to co-exist with our own family members, patience and sanity deteriorating steadily.
It’d be easy to just give in to the rage and frustration; to let the collective panic in light of on-going events accumulate inside us, and explode. Worse, we could let the weight of the issue weigh us down, and give up the little mental strength we’re trying so hard to hold on to.
But let’s not do any of that. Let’s be optimistic, for once.
The sky is clearer nowadays -- you can see how many colours there are in a sunset. The air outside doesn’t make you as sick anymore, and city-dwellers have just discovered what bird song sounds like, sans the aggressive honking, and hustle and bustle on the streets. The ozone layer, according to The Independent, is recovering. Centuries of damage caused by us humans is being reversed. The earth is healing, and even if it took a deadly pandemic to get here, we have much to be grateful for. I offer all these great pieces of information as temporary relief from the constant panic and fear of what is to happen. And looking at the positives, in no way, means overlooking the damage and suffering this monster is causing. Instead, it’s us doing our part, and holding on.
With most of us being privileged enough to work from home, the time needed to get ready, and the time spent in traffic, is all saved. What we’re left with, even after completing all our daily tasks and then some, are more hours in a day. So we could either wallow during those hours, or we could be productive.
And no, the productivity I refer to does not include working or being active. It only includes doing things we’ve been far too busy to do. It means making use of the extra hours we’re getting, and taking care of ourselves. There are dozens of things you could choose to do to stay sane while you shelter in place, and remain sane when, soon, we go back into the wild wild jungle we call reality. Here are a few things that have been helping us get by:
That to be read pile you’ve been adding to for the last couple of months (or years) is now ready to be halved. As much as I’d like to say you can finish reading all the books you own, from experience I can assure you, that probably won’t happen. What CAN happen, however, is reading, even if it's 10 pages a day, being implemented into your daily routine. And an imaginary world is always a good escape from these trying times.
Hone that skill you’ve been trying to learn:
We keep putting off learning new things because we’re too busy, too tired, too stressed. But now would be the perfect time to direct all that pent up energy into honing that skill you’ve always wanted to master. If you’re ambitious, you could learn a new language or how to play a new instrument. Maybe get busy in the kitchen. Whatever you decide to try, what you’ll come out of this with, if you do it right, is a whole lot of patience -- and that’s a skill that could help us all survive.
Remember the 90s, when we’d sit with the entire family and do something together, even if it was just dining together? That’s another thing we’ve added to the list of beautiful things the decade took with it. But maybe we can come up with a 2020 version of that. Watch something with your quarantine buddies; play ludo or carrom or Scrabbles, whatever it is that interests you all and will give you some hours of peace and joy. Who knows, maybe you’ll come out of it with stronger bonds and new family traditions.
Pay attention to yourself:
This may be last on the list of potential activities this quarantine, but it is certainly the most crucial. Pay heed to yourself, to what you need. Your physical and mental health need the attention they’ve been missing out on. Work out a little at home. If you don’t enjoy that, turn up the music and dance until you’re out of breath. Schedule video calls with your friends, and get that daily dose of laughter. Write, paint, meditate -- do everything that makes you happy and keeps the crippling fear at bay. If nothing else, take some time to sit with yourself in silence, and just pay attention to your thoughts. We tend to tune out the most important conversation -- the one with ourselves. Now’s the time to listen, and really focus on what we need to do to heal.
While these are all things you can do to keep yourself occupied, it in no way means that we’re meant to be positive all day, and forget what an incredibly tiresome time we’re living through. There will be moments of panic, fear, depression; moments of no productivity and creative blocks; moments when you just want to wallow in the sadness and frustration. Welcome these moments. Allow yourself to feel all of it. And then, get up and do something you love. The world is in despair, the global economy is (or will soon be) in shambles, and this monster-who-must-not-be-named will leave a mess that we will all have to clean up long after it’s gone. Our future, collectively and as individuals, is more uncertain than it has ever been. But the earth is healing, so let yourself heal a little, too.