Mind your mind

Mind your mind

Spin a sound mental health cocoon around yourself during these trying times, suggests Shilpi Madan

Mindfulness

Mindfulness always pays off rich dividends in navigating you out of any crisis. ‘Too blessed to be stressed’ is the positive anthem that everyone tells you to cultivate — but how do you go about nurturing your own sanity when working women are expected to pitch in 2x while #WFH and managing the domestic front, and home-makers have to deal with the overwhelming situation of having to manage home chores with everyone at home 24x7? Here are ways in which you can deal with the anxiety that tends to creep in at different levels.

Route the routine 

Says psychotherapist Alaokika Bharwani, “Women are the fulcrum of most families and need to make time for self-compassion and expression. The present situation tends to bring in its own set of challenges, making us either cope with them or rendering us dysfunctional in ways we do not desire. Focusing on self-care is very important as unless we nourish our own selves, we cannot do much for others around us. Keeping this in mind, follow a routine, including time for exercise to bring in those happy hormones,” she explains, “Doing things that you like, and following a familiar routine soothes your entire system. Sit down the entire family and make sure everyone is on the same page: It is the family ship that all members need to navigate, not just you, as the home-maker. You must not be required to shoulder the entire load. It is important to make some downtime for yourself, to rest and to do something that you enjoy — that could even be social engagement online or getting on a call with your loved ones.”

Nourish a hobby

Focusing on an activity that gives you comfort and pleasure assuages your senses at multiple levels. “Celebrate passions that you have been unable to make time for,” says Devina Badhwar, hypnotherapist and angel card reader, The Light Within. “By channelising your attention and nervous energy on something that gives you joy, like reading a book, watching a documentary, cooking, gardening...you heal yourself in many ways. Even if you are in a small home, or space-challenged with many family members around, you can find something valuable to do for one hour of the day, every day.”

Anchor the family

“As parents, we are the pilots of the plane. If we are dis-regulated and disgruntled, the emotional effect seeps down into the juniors as well,” explains Alaokika. Stay cool, calm, collected during this time of crisis. Any degree of panic will instantly reflect in breeding insecurities in children as well. “The rule is “Connect, before correct”. This is not the time to keep on correcting children too much, let them be. Allow them to have fears, talk and discuss with them, answer their questions in an age-appropriate way. Avoid making comments like “Everything will be the same again soon.” Instead, when the child asks you something along the lines of the future, bring her gently back into the present and count your blessings together. Instil in them that we are better than lakhs of others as we have a roof above our heads, live with our family and are safe. Together we are soldiering on. Be grounded, sane and clear. Our children pick up cues very well.”

Curate your own thoughts

When you get up in the morning, avoid leaping straight into the home routine. Spend some time with your own self, composing your thoughts. “It is a good idea to meditate. Many struggle with this and even though this is a recommended method for mental well-being, not everyone can practise it,” says Devina. “Play some soothing music, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. By closing your eyes for those few minutes, you are shutting out the world — the outside noise, phone calls, computer and phone screens, and just being with yourself. Each time you get distracted by thoughts, bring your focus back to your breathing. Practise this for a few minutes. Maintain a gratitude journal where at the end of every day you put down 3-5 things that you are grateful for. It shifts your energy in a more positive direction.”

Relationship building

Even though couples are spending more time together, it is not quality time, points out Alaokika. “Be kind to each other, without snapping at each other. Practising acts of kindness with each other is very important. Listen, without getting defensive. You need not agree with each other, but make time to listen. Avoid bickering, as it makes the environment rancid. With self-care, child care and relationship care rolled in, you can weather anything,” believes Alaokika. 

An unselfish art

 Admit it. The brain fatigue has set in. Take heart if you haven't been baking goodies, adding to your proficiency artillery, and leaping around dedicatedly to lose weight. It is perfectly fine to simply be your own special self as you mentally cope with the new normal. Here are a few cues for you to perhaps thread in, as and when you wish...

Screen champion

There is no escaping the screen. Whether it is mating with your smartphone, jockeying from one video call to another, getting the hang of reporting hierarchy at work...or choosing the binge route on Netflix, you will pick up a few tricks after fumbling and bumbling (or the kids could teach you a thing or two) about setting up your own workstation, installing the latest versions of software that could simplify life.

Hear, hear

Make this time a slice of slow life that you had been secretly hoping for. You don't wish to learn Spanish or Mandarin. Fine. Give yourself some time everyday to process the change, hang by the window (if there is no balcony or terrace) to sip your cup of brew while soaking up the sound of the koel's sweet call (that you probably heard only on NatGeo or on your weekend getaway to the neighbouring greens). You can actually hear the birds chirp, see the parrots fly around and watch the sun drunk butterflies winging headily towards the sun. 

Go garden

Potted plants on the sill, sowing microgreens counts especially when you don't have a kitchen garden in your bungalow like your folks residing in a satellite town or city. Tending to plants is a therapy of a different kind. Dig into the soil, bring out the seeds, shower the sunshine and watch the nodding greens burst to life under your eyes at your hands. An innately fulfilling experience that doesn't require a green thumb.  

Rearrange

With spring cleaning done in the first couple of weeks, you need something else to stoke your imagination. Redo the entrance to your home using plants, urlis, a new hand-painted nameplate...make changes in the home decor to please your own self. Create a cosy nook for your own self in a favourite part of the house, rearrange the furniture to give a new spin to the living area, change the family pictures in those photo frames, shift collectables from one room to another. Repurpose, recreate, rejuvenate.

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