Meandering Through the Maelstrom of Mental Health #AtoZChallenge

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TRIED AND TESTED TIPS TO FEEL HAPPY DURING QUARANTINE

As we enter the extended national lockdown for 3 more weeks, it’s easy to feel dejected. Though we had expected it, we were hoping for some outlet or relief- a semblance of return to normalcy. Anyhow, we must make the most of the situation and carry on as best we can. At least now I won’t have to change my theme #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer mid-way through the A-Z Challenge! Haha… sorry bad joke.

A few posts ago, I’d written about a social gathering I attended online with members of the Ivy Plus Network. A predominant discussion that day was around the state of everyone’s mental health during forced quarantine.

Honestly, I didn’t realise it was a prevalent issue till I attended this and other similar online workshops and sessions, which I’d signed up to write about or to learn a new skill. After attending these, I have come to the following conclusions:

  1. Millenials as a broad category (age group 25-40), regardless of gender, seem most affected by lockdown related anxiety, possibly because this generation has been the first to openly address the importance of mental health. Millenials from cities are tech-savvy and have some disposable income. Hence, they are open to new experiences and enjoy connecting with like-minded strangers over the internet.
  2. People who live alone/ away from their families are more likely to be affected by anxiety and stress, as they are stuck indoors 24/7 with only themselves for company.
  3. However, even young people living with their parents or families, are prone to feeling low. Families often have unsaid yet established ground rules and divisions of personal space. Forced lockdown means sharing space with other family members for long periods of time, which could lead to arguments and frustrations.
  4. Lack of household help means everyone has to help with daily chores. This exhausting work adds to overall frustration.
  5. The biggest anxiety is related to financial matters. Salaried people are concerned about the status of their jobs, and entrepreneurs about picking up successfully from where they left off.
  6. Anxiety about falling ill with the coronavirus and possibly dying, also adds to the overall stress.

Think about it- even in normal times, all of us have difficult days where the stress seems insurmountable, but we usually find outlets for it. We meet our friends for a drink, watch a movie, go dancing, go on dates with our partners, or head to our parents’ home for a comfort meal. Lockdown doesn’t allow us to use any of these outlets. What does one do in that case? Turn to the internet in the hope of finding a solution.

On Sunday, I took two online workshops- one was conducted by Google, specifically for women who struggle to rise in the corporate sector. It was called #IAmRemarkable and it sought to reinforce the fact that women can rise up the ladder of life, if they only believe in themselves.

The other workshop was an Improvisation (on-the-spot spontaneous acting) class organised by Kaivalya Plays x Oddbird Theatre, and conducted by American Improv Instructor Elana Fishbein, from her home in New Jersey. Through acting scenarios and games, this session aimed at teaching people to accept an existing state of affairs, in order to deal with it positively and effectively.

Though I enjoyed enlisting reasons why I think I’m remarkable in the former workshop, and thoroughly loved the acting activities of the latter; I zoned out during the mental health discussions. Perhaps, this was because I haven’t been feeling any particular anxiety or mental stress due to coronavirus.

This in itself is quite huge, because I’m an anxious person by nature. Even now, I’m stressing about writing and publishing daily blog posts and Instagram videos, but certainly not about the virus. Here are some reasons I feel I have been able to escape the coronavirus mental worry, and you could too:

  1. Daily blogging and Instagram engagement gives me a time-sensitive task to complete on a daily basis. This ensures that I stay productive and busy. You don’t have to be productive- it’s totally cool to be lazy too, but having something to do every day really helps. Pick something you’ve always wanted to do but never found the time for before.
  2. I follow my regular routine of dressing up. I get dressed every day, with makeup and regular clothes, which helps to make it feel like a regular day. Don’t do all that if you’re not into it, but I highly recommend changing out of sweat pants and wearing shorts or comfy dresses instead!
  3. I spend lots of time with my husband and my son, since we are all home together. This period of time probably won’t return, and if you’re lucky enough to be with your family, make the most of it.
  4. I chat with my friends more often than I have in years. We usually catch up once in six months, but now we talk on a daily basis, laugh about silly things, play online games and tease each other. As one of my friends pointed out- it feels like summer vacation from college, when we couldn’t meet every day but spent all our time chatting to each other on the phone!
  5. I mark out certain times of the day for relaxation and leisure, and I recommend you do that too with any hobby of your choice. My husband and I have been watching “The Office” together, thoroughly enjoying the wry humour of that brilliant comedy show. I also read before going to bed every night, and just finished a fabulous Polish novel (translated to English) called “Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead” by Olga Tokarczuk. Funnily enough, the protagonist of this crime fiction story, suffers from mental health issues of her own.
  6. I work out 3-4 times in a week, even if it’s just running up and down my stairs or stretching. Exercise is the best and quickest stress-buster. I highly recommend some daily activity- even just pacing around your living room floor for half an hour a day. It really helps.
  7. I call my mom and dad on Whatsapp video calls and we share the tiniest details of our daily lives, like what’s been cooked for lunch, which yoga asana was tried today and what my son’s art and craft activity was for that day.

So, if you’re struggling with the lockdown blues, you can take inspiration from any of these 7 points I’ve highlighted. If nothing else, just call a family member or a friend and have a long conversation about nothing in particular. I guarantee that you will feel better!

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Make time for a favourite hobby even if you have a hundred chores or deadlines to fill

As for a book recommendation with the letter M:

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare is one the funniest and most entertaining plays I have ever read. The fact that I played Queen Titania in a stage adaption of it in college, makes it even more dear to me.

TV shows that are definitely worth binge-watching include:

“Mindhunter” on Netflix about the FBI’s psychological crimes department that interviewed convicted serial killers to understand their behaviour.

“Mad Men” on Netflix about the colourful life of Donald Draper, an advertising guru in 1960s New York.

The blogger I’m recommending to you today is a dear friend who has always been a great support to me and many other bloggers:

Manas Mukul who writes at www.manasmukul.com. Check him out if you haven’t already and tell him I sent you.

That’s all for today folks. Stay healthy, stay happy, stay home.

Do check out my daily update videos on Instagram Stories for #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer and follow me there to stay better connected. Also tell me your favourite TV Shows/ movies/ books/ bloggers with the letter M?

Mirupafshim till tomorrow! (goodbye in Albanian)

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This post has been written for the #AtoZChallenge 2020. My theme this year is #LockdownWithTheLadyLawyer, where I’m journaling my thoughts during the coronavirus lockdown, and sharing numerous recommendations that will help keep your spirits up.

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*This is not a sponsored post.

**Copyright in pictures and content belongs to nooranandchawla.com and cannot be republished or repurposed without express permission of the author. As I am a copyright lawyer by profession, infringement of any kind will invite strict legal action. 

84 comments

  1. So important that you chose to speak about anxiety Noor. I think right now there’s no one who is not anxious. Maybe just varied degrees of stress. This is the time to be kind because everyone is fighting a battle. Thank you for sharing your personal tips and recommendations.

  2. You get dressed up every day!? That is really commendable. I have been wearing the same two pajamas since I’ve been at home!!
    AtoZ challenge has kept me happy as well. There is so much to write and even more to read. Things have been better ever since this started. I’m glad to be a part of it!

    1. The AtoZ challenge is a huge positive distraction! Yes I get dressed every day and post a video on my Instagram stories. I’ve been doing that since the first day of self-isolation which I began before lockdown, and it’s a huge positivity boost!

  3. I agree blogging has kept me sane and busy as well. There is time for other things but having a purpose in your day is important. Exercise and talking to my parents is something i am doing as well and it really helps. Lovely post and the points leading to mental anxieties are so relevant.

  4. Having something on the list always help us as we have something to look forward to. I was having the same discussion with a close friend that how fortunate we are to have the power of writing. Atlas, we have a good dose of some meaningful reading and writing. Our mind is occupied. I have watched Mad Men a couple of years go on Netflix and liked it. btw, I also watched Ungrezi Medium with my daughter, Both of us loved the movie. My husband has recently finished watching Panchayat. I am yet to watch that.

  5. again a great post Noor with so many awesome tips to beat the lock down blue..I agree keeping ourselves busy and engaged in different activities helps a lot in reducing anxiety and with this A2Z challenge, I am also feeling less stressed about coronavirus. daily writing and reading helps me in feeling positive despite adverse situations. I really loved your idea of learning a new skills..would love to do that soon when this challenge gets over.

  6. Reading your pionters to beat the lock down blues always helps me in lifting my morale up, your take towards the any kind of changes is so positive Noor. Kudos!

  7. Right! My focus is also on my work, I am cautious but other activities keep me busy and end of the day I sleep with the feeling of the contentment.

  8. Depression during this period is a highly underrated disease that will affect millions. Everything – health, job, income, a questionable future life – all of this will come together in a horrible way, if it already hasn’t.

    As for tv shows, if you like The Office, consider 30 Rock and Parks & Rec.

    On the darker yet equally amazing humour side, try out It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

  9. That was a lot of tips and it’s really really helpful for all the people out there suffering in anxiety feeling alone, this solitude can be enjoyed with an organized task as you mentioned. This will be a great help Noor! Have a beautiful day ✨💐🤗

  10. Awwwwww…Thank you so much for the shoutout. I agree to all the points that you have suggested. This is once in a generation event…and nobody from our generation has witnessed anything like this before. Hence the coping mechanisms are yet to be evolved. Loved the simple practical steps one can adopt to take care of their mental health. More power to you.
    Hope you remember it was last year’s A to Z only when I found you. Blessed to have a friend like you.
    Hugs. Love. Cheers.

  11. I haven’t had issues concerning with mental health from the lockdown either, it was from the social media that I too got to know about many who faced it. It’s great that there are resources online to deal with it and positive posts out there to help them. These tips are great, I follow some of them myself. Really helps. 🙂

  12. Nice reminders in the form of great tips but I know, I will again forget to workout tomorrow as it happens to me every day. I don’t know but this one thing couldn’t find room in my new schedule since day 1. But still, I will try……

  13. Noor, today’s topic is very relevant. Even some of my friends are saying that they’re feeling depressed and frustrated in this phase. I recommend them to try some creative things. But they don’t pay any heed at all. I really enjoyed your post and I have saves it to read again. Liked it.

  14. All of us are stressed Noor..even kids who miss their school and friends..cooped up at home.Its heartening to say that it is being discussed openly.Mental Health shud be given more priority than physical

  15. Well, you are indeed doing a commendable job of making the best of this lockdown. And yes you are right in pin pointing why being confined at home with family too could be a reason for anxiety. A well thought out post Noor.

  16. This is so very relevant and helpful at this time Noor! You have jotted down the concerns aptly and thoughtfully. Loved your recommendation of the blogger 😊 Manas Mukul and his work. Glad to have known him recently. Gem of a person and a brilliant Blog host! Have been already, and would love to keep visiting his work more often now!

  17. We need to normalize mental health issues by speaking about them. Most of us are facing the blue because of the lockdown, the schedule gone crazy, being the family of the Frontline warriors and many other reasons. Unless we acknowledge, accept and act on it, the unattended emotions might lead to self-destruction. Glad you decided to write about it. For me, my MFA assignments, writing and A2Z challenge have helped me survive through this. One of the reasons I chose humor as a theme was to give my tensed soul a respite from the stress.

  18. This is a time when lot of people are slipping into depression. I also dress up each day. For me the girls , writing and the housework are keeping me busy. Glad that you came up with this topic.

  19. Mental health is at stake and we seriously need positive doses to survive. We are going thru a never before anxiety situations. Keeping busy is very very important, and thanks to A2Z we have some beautiful write ups lined to read daily.
    Have read “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and glad to know you have in-acted the queen, so that counts for one of your additional talents. I started reading Manas recently more after the Blog-hop and no doubts his pen and words have awesome power. thanks for all the recommendations and ways you are working on during this lock-down.

  20. Really admire how you are taking some awesome courses Noor. Also, there is quite a similarity among the things that are saving us from the anxiety from the disease.

  21. So glad you voiced this issue! A lot of people are going through so much anxiety which definitely effects the mental health! Thank you for sharing such wonderful tips.
    I’m so glad that I have this challenge, my books and TV shows to look forward to!

  22. Today we are not only fighting with the Covid virus, but also with depression and menteal health. Such an apt topic for this time. Well written as well.
    — rightpurchasing.com

  23. I look up you in terms of your planning and time management. You are so prompt in posting your blog, reading and commenting as many blogs as you like. I am sure you also have all the chores at home and still take out time for online workshop that’s just commendable.

  24. Many are really affected by this lockdown but it is for our safety. For me , not much change but I undoubtedly lot of cooking work increase.
    But yes finance worry is for everyone.

  25. Your post covers the topic of stress and anxiety quite comprehensively. Good to know you dress up every day:)
    The A to Z is a blessed and productive distraction which I’m grateful for.

  26. Well thought article and very relevant one, Noor. We all are stressed in some or the other way. It’s important to keep yourself busy. These lockdown days have been the busiest days in fact with mundane chores, kids, collabs and daily writing for A2Z have kept me sane and productive.

  27. I’m really happy that Improv helped you. I created my interactive improv storytelling troupe, The Brother’s Grinn, in the mid 90s. I kept it going for 12 years. I also lead/guide Improv classes and workshops. There is a lot to learn about life from Improvisation. It does not have to be always funny.

    M suggestions:
    Book: (The) Man in the Maze, by Robert Silverberg. This was among the first “adult” science fiction books I came across just before I hit my teens. It has had a long lasting effect on my love of SciFi/Fantasy. Picked it up at the lending “library” at my dentist’s office. I was hooked.

    Movie: Men in Black is just silly fun. I kinda like the newest, but my favorite is the first one.

    TV: My Favorite Martian. Mid 60s comedy with Ray Walston and Bill Bixby. It was the first one that popped into my head. Millennium, with Lance Henrickson, ran for three seasons. Always wanted more.

      1. I have been thinking about how to translate what I do without being in the physical presence. I need to find an online improv lesson just to see how the leader guides it.

        Before the shutdown of life outdoors, I’ve led many workshops across the US (and a few in London), done Professional Development through Improv facilitation, and I’m a certified New York State Theater Teacher, retired.

        I’ll give it more thought. I need to add more to my creative energies. I was supposed to lead 4 two hour groups on Fridays, but…this happened. Other work went by the wayside as well. Let’s see what my mind will find/focus on.

        If I do create my own Online Improv, I will let you know. Thanks, Noor

  28. A lot of people I know are feeling the stress and strain of this lock down. Agree with the pointers you have shared. Acceptance of the situation, adapting to the changes in the lifestyle, engaging meaningfully, positive attitude, learning or doing something that you have meaning to do for a while but couldnt do it earlier are a great way to beat the lock down blues.
    Have read A Midsummer Night’s Dream during school days. Will pick it up again, some day!

  29. The points you have mentioned are true and does contribute to stree…but we are not used to this lifestyle and today only I saw in news that WHO and harvard released statement that no vaccines are to be expected by 2022…not sure how are we going to adjust to this situation now

  30. It was a realization for me too, when I had attended a mental health workshop last year. And today, I see in that so many people are worrying about their Mental health. To the factors you’ve mentioned, the current panicky situations have added to the stress/

  31. Great pointers Noor.. I follow most of them..most of all I try to stick to a routine..though I don`t dress up, I do make it a point not to be in my PJ`s during the day 😉 My reco for M is Midnight`s Children and Show Money Heist.

  32. The A2Z challenge takes up a lot of time! I have been cooking and binge-watching too. I’m calling and video-calling friends and family more than ever. So the lockdown hasn’t really taken a toll on me, even though I am on my own in a different city.

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