I am, to be honest, a little scared about writing this blog post. Frankly, because, these are terms not to be used loosely or lightly. There is an elephant of a difference between feeling anxious and suffering from anxiety. Between that of being sad and being depressed. These are territories I am probably not qualified enough to touch. And yet, by the virtue of being a human being- and one who suffers from anxiety and has been on medication for the past 2 years- it is imperative that I share my experience and thereby the knowledge I have gained about taking care of one’s mental health during these difficult times, in the hope that somewhere, someone like me would find this useful.

I also know, that it is easier said than done. It might take less time and effort to create an army than to calm one’s own mind and train it to garner the courage to accept facts for what it is- specially in these times. I mean, please, tell me, how does one see through to the bright side isolated in an apartment, with news of corona virus flowing in from every side, media harping on how things could get worse from here on, critics billowing about the under reports and all that and worse, some of them- finding this a perfect excuse to blame others. It looks all very grim. I know. I have been there. I have been and continue to be there, from time to time, at this end of the pier, looking through these grim glasses- and yet… I know that no matter what it looks like now, this too shall pass. Because change is the only constant

The feeling of fear however will never leave us. Like pain, cold, or any other bodily sensation, the feeling of fear is a part of us. But for some us, where the key is set a little too high, here’s what to do during lockdown to feel better. And do it with all the bravado you’ve got.

Meditate

Your mind is like this water, my friend. When it is agitated, it becomes difficult to see. But if you allow it to settle, the answer becomes clear.

Leave everything aside for 5 minutes and please meditate.

For life is momentous and we have absolutely no control over tomorrow. The only logical thing you could do is to tell yourself, “We will see” for all the deadly questions you ask yourself. Trust in the process, in you. If I could come to this place of acceptance from, “but what if {write all the negative feelings in the word} happens right now?” – just by meditation and 1 simple seratonin uptake (now reduced to 12.5mg) you can too.

Which app to use: Headspace. I cannot recommend Headspace enough because not only it guides you with the meditation but also prepares you. The little window you get to ask yourself a few questions before returning to the rhythm of your breath is the fun part. I often sit down with a lot of questions and then at that very point cannot think of them at all. Then realize that maybe they are not important at all.

It maybe different for you, you maybe already under medication, therapy and are seeing a doctor- but 5 minutes of yourself can do wonders. Please trust me.

Space out your News Consumption

These are very unsettling times. Speaking for myself- I felt like I have been chained in the middle of a large stadium and bad news from every angle is being thrown at me at canon ball speed in the name of “sharing”, since mid February. And people just won’t stop. So I did 3 very important things to keep my sanity-

  1. Got out of the whatsapp groups. Because my god, you don’t say! People are full of information to the brim and none of which offer any solution. And oddly they all try to share stuff with you- mind you, sometimes the same source in multiple groups- because? I have no idea. Do they think I don’t know? Or think it’s their duty? I appreciate but no thanks.
  2. Turn off the news feed. Mute accounts on instagram (some of them do their jobs and sometimes its also very helpful, but now) who extensively posts news. Read news once or twice a week or unless you have to.
  3. Clear cache and history. So those search engines cant get ya! Haha optional.

Surround yourself with & do things that make you happy

My great grandpa’s lamp is on my desk. I cozy up with granny’s woven shawl and I love sipping my tea in the Anthropologie mugs that a friend got in. In times like these, decor or functional things of positive sentimental value can be very beneficial. Because when a tree is rooted strong, its easier to weather the storm.

On the other hand, start on those long lost hobbies. Firstly Spring is a good time to start anything I guess because nature starts over too. And secondly now that you have time, other than shrinking in crippling fear, how about some happy distractions?

Here’s a challenge: Grow microgreens this weekend. Ok?

Choose to Look at the bright side

When was the last time you heard a koel sing but lately? Or woke up to a crisp April morning with cool air and blue skies? Yes, it’s exhausting to do chores and work together but see how much you are actually capable of as a human. When did you need so less money to live your everyday life? When did you figure that these big conglomerates who suck in money from you by giving you deals were not there for you at times of need? It was the neighbourhood grocery man and milk man. When did you figure that watermelon rind can make amazing sabzi?

In fact, just tell me how many times did you wonder in the last few days that the world looks good as is?

You gotta stop the negative wallowing. Even if its tempting.

Burn (not so midnight perhaps) oils

We all know about aroma therapy and I use quite a few oils to help me unwind.

I use a mix of these essential oils to help me with unwinding. It’s Mandarin (Vitality), Lavender (Calming) and Green Tea (Refreshing) for my diffuser. Patchouli, Tea-Tree and Geranium for my skin. I also add a few drops in my bath tub sometimes for a good soak or add a few drops to the water we sweep our house with. I use an electric burner with an adjustable light intensity which I keep on all night but you can use one with tea lights as well. Trust me. One of the best things you’ll invest on in your life are good essential oils and I’ve been hooked onto it since 2014. 

Brands I use: Blossom Kochhar + Nykaa for my skin & Aarohi for diffuser

See a therapist, its always worth giving your head the love it deserves

You know when things escalate. If you have been not been able to cope with the recent changes, please seek help. If you are not too confident or low on cash, try Practo. My first therapist was from Practo and she was sooooo good that I now see her by choice. When she put me on medication she did tell me everything about the hormones that affect your body and mind and why I did have a crash and so on… And when you see it in a hormonal light and not a taboo light, you instantly start to react to it differently. So see a therapist.

Embrace the Slow life. Tell yourself, ‘We will see’

There has not been a better mantra to hang on. A lot of our triggers comes from either the past or from the future- anticipating a not-so-favourable outcome. And if you just nip it in the bud and tell yourself “We will see” to those future questions, you’ll start to feel better. And think about it, truth is, what else can we do?

Meanwhile, if you need a little headsup on how to get the best of slow life, here’s a blog I wrote quite sometime back. Yeah, I know. I have been in quarantine forever!

Follow: Jason Gutierrez from The Monk Life and subscribe to his newsletter. This man and his newsletters helped me through the most difficult times.

The coming months may be rough (yeah, thank you newspapers for bringing the truth to us over and over again) but with a sound mind and body, you can make it through. So take care of your mental health. Take it from me.

To bright times.

Love

Rukmini

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