You need not do anything extra this pandemic – The New Indian Express

Posted: April 18, 2020 at 5:44 pm


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HYDERABAD: Author JK Rowling created a flutter on Twitter recently when she gave scathing replies to a person, who suggested that the author should not knock life coaches for trying to inspire people during these troubling times. In her tweet, Rowling said: Implying that people are lazy or unmotivated if they arent knocking out masterpieces daily isnt inspiration, its a form of shaming. If endless distraction cured depression, no rich person or workaholic would ever have killed themselves. Sadness and anxiety arent weaknesses.

Theyre a natural human response to difficulty and danger. Allowing ourselves to feel what we feel, and acknowledging that we have good reason to feel that way, is a better route back to good mental health than beating ourselves up for not being superhuman. Rowling was on to something when she said this. Alongside the steady and bleak stream of the number of COVID-19 positive cases, social media today is full of tips and ideas on how to make this pandemic useful.

Life coaches and influencers are exhorting people to not waste the extra time they have earned while working from home during the lockdown. But does this create a pressure on people to be extra productive when just coping can be stressful for many?

Dr Pragya Rashmi, consultant psychologist, says: We are culturally taught to be stronger in difficult times, to put on a happy face when we are going through depression. We are told to behave in a way that contradicts our feelings. This school of thought has been coming down from generations. It might have some meaning at that time, but currently, it does not.Baijesh Ramesh, a clinical psychologist at Chetana Hospital in Secunderabad, says: We are facing unprecedented chaos, and this can easily overwhelm many of us. What we are going through globally is a collective trauma.

There are people amongst us who lost their jobs and many more living in fear of losing jobs. The whole situation has given rise to significant anxiety, profound grief, panic, and fear of loss of lives of loved ones among people. Many of us are struggling to survive poverty, financial burden, health issues, mental health difficulties, and relationship struggles due to the lockdown.

Individuals differ dramatically in their response to stress and how they cope with it. Some people thrive even under these circumstances and make the best use of this time to be extra productive, but that cannot be expected of everyone. If a person feels pressured to be extra productive amid these uncertainties, that can be unhealthy. This pressure can create an additional challenge for children, who may not express their stress and anxieties like adults do; they are also perceptive of whats happening around and are concerned.

If anyone can cope with this situation by being productive, then thats great, but if someone doesnt have the bandwidth right now, thats fine too. It is absolutely okay to be not okay.Stating that we are witnessing an unprecedented situation, Pragya adds: The Covid-19 pandemic is a situation that most of us are undergoing for the first time in our lives. The last time the world saw such a crisis was during the World Wars. Amid this, people are being told to be extra creative and extra happy by social media, influencers and the socio-political environment.

Students are being asked to take up extra coaching, mentoring etc. I coped is no longer a thing for us. We dont see coping as an activity and ignore the fact that it requires energy too. We want to sweep coping under the carpet, put some activity on top of it, and believe that is the way to go forward. The more we repress coping, it will come back in a darker form. We have to face our anxieties and accept that dealing with them requires energy. Its not mandatory to be happy.

There are people who are being extra productive now, and it is their way of dealing with things. But everyone need not be happy, or cooking, or acquiring a new skill. To let go of all activities is an important psychological phenomenon that nourishes our minds. A retreat need not be activity based. Its important to pause our minds to gain new perspectives.

Creating extra pressure is stressful Life coaches and influencers are exhorting people to not waste extra time while working from home. Does this create pressure on people to be extra productive, when just coping can be stressful?

kakoli_mukherjee@newindianexpress.com@KakoliMukherje2

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You need not do anything extra this pandemic - The New Indian Express

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April 18th, 2020 at 5:44 pm

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