Stressed? Manage it : The Tribune India

Stressed? Manage it

Stressed? Manage it


Priyamvada Mangal

Thanks to the pandemic, the collective panic, anxiety, fear and stress are at an all-time high. Locked down in our homes, we all are busy tracking the spread of coronavirus, and the havoc it is causing across the globe. Non-stop news, incessant WhatsApp forwards and endless discussions about the disease make us feel helpless, besides adding to our anxiety levels.

Saloni Sawnani, a clinical psychologist from Arpan NGO, Mumbai, explains why coronavirus is causing so much panic. “Fear of the unknown has always been one of the biggest fears. The way COVID-19 is spreading and affecting the whole world is unnerving for most people,” says Sawnani.

“The unknown variables are increasing anxiety among the masses. As contagious as it is, the mortality rate among healthy individuals is very low. A lot of people are recovering after testing positive to the disease. So, we must not lose sight of this silver lining and spend this time rebuilding our lives and relationships with positivity and togetherness.”

Make a mindful routine

To keep anxiety and fear at bay, we must direct our focus on things we can work on and let go of things we cannot do anything about. We cannot control what’s going on outside, but we can correct our thoughts and focus on doing the inner work. There is a lot of power in the collective consciousness.

Dr Kushal Jain, a psychiatrist from Centre for Behavioural Sciences, Delhi, suggests that having a routine will help in these difficult times. “The rise in anxiety is because of the cluelessness about what would happen, so it is best to keep your routine intact. You can start doing things that you have been procrastinating like reading, meditating or exercising.” Now is the time to make a more mindful routine, timetable and set of tasks to keep a check on stress and anxiety.

Best time to reconnect

Dr Jain advises one can use this time to work out differences within family. “We finally have the time to reconnect with our family members and have uninterrupted conversations. Give that extra care and attention to your parents, play boardgames with children, video call friends, get back that human touch. If you are a couple, find ways to rekindle the romance in your relationship. Who says you cannot have candlelight dates at home?” Instead of suppressing your emotions, channelise these creatively. Journaling your thoughts will put things into perspective.

Learn new skills

There are various Ivy league courses available at affordable rates online. You can enrol and attend the course at a fixed time every day. For learning a new skill, you can browse through channels on YouTube and read books written by experts available on the Internet.

Make changes in your lifestyle

Do not grab your phone first thing in the morning: We need to be aware of what’s happening around us to make well-informed decisions but that does not mean bombarding ourselves with statistics as soon as our eyes open. Let your eyes wake up to natural light, do some stretches before getting out of the bed, look out of the window, clean your stomach, have your morning beverage and decide what you want to do in the day.

For a good start to the day, ensure you get ample rest. For sound sleep, refrain from eating or drinking stimulating beverages two hours prior to sleeping. Avoid sleeping at odd hours during the day as it confuses the body clock.

Turn to authentic information sources: Currently, we are using more social media than we ever did. Unfortunately, there is a lot of fake news doing the rounds on social media. Refrain from reading unverified news because it can cause unwanted anxiety and panic. Follow reputed news channels, official Twitter handles, government announcements to avoid cluttering your mind.

Eat less fats, processed sugars: Apart from having a bad reputation for fattening, these also cause hormonal imbalance in the body. Cook light and easily digestible food. It is not only good for the body but for the mind as well.

Bring your mind and awareness to the present: Fear and anxieties are caused by predicting the worst outcome. By misusing our imaginative power, we overwork negative thinking and create an imaginary situation that may never happen. Bring your breath to the present moment, and you will feel a sudden calm because it automatically slows down the rate of thoughts per minute.

  • Start being aware of how your body moves, what space does it take up, focus on how you feel, which muscle is used and which bone is being used.
  • Focus on breathing. Take up a comfortable sitting position. Make sure your hands are comfortably placed on your thighs. Focus on your upper lip and be aware of the air coming in and going out. Do this for 10-20 minutes every day.
  • Focus completely on what you are doing, whether it is washing utensils, reading an article or watching a movie or cooking. Stop multi-tasking, zero down on the single task at hand. Even oiling your hair can be a meditative practice, if done with awareness.
  • Square breathing: Breathe in for four counts, hold in for four counts, breathe out for four counts, and hold your breath out for four counts. Do this for 10 rounds.

Let us commit to being at our best in these challenging times as mother earth prepares to renew itself. 

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