Getting ‘in line’ for the ‘On-line’ World

Probably the most ‘trending word’ doing the rounds in the world today.

From the humbler days of when ‘being online’ meant – Yahoo Chat or MSN Messenger, to the current day when an avatar just isn’t enough to distinguish you from the rest, hiding behind a computer screen with only a user name – today, the person himself has come ONLINE. (not out of choice, but more out of necessity)

From our very homes directly to board meetings in conference rooms, we are to be accessible at all times, from different locations from a simple electronic gadget.

Life has certainly moved gears overnight, and we have to move with the times.

Much before the whole ‘Life coming aboard Online’ thing happened, we had this beautiful connection that came into existence to people from around the world, better known to us as Yahoo Chat rooms, where people just clicked on random names, started chats, and started getting to know each other from around the world. Who says two perfect strangers cannot make great friends?

Sometimes opening up to a Stranger is much easier than with a friend.

While life has graduated from chat rooms to friendship/dating sites, to blogging platforms, we’ve all come across people who we never knew existed and forged great relationships, some of which may have overridden relationships that we have with people who we meet every day – that said, there are two sides to everything. A ‘Friend’ is of course a relative term and it depends on each one, on how they perceive friendship and what do they expect from the relationship.

In the Era of Whatsapp and social media, we are constantly bombarded with information, telling us the importance of communication, relationships, and un-explored opportunities between people from different nations – the more we’re willing to go searching, the more we come across different kinds of people. I stumbled on one such opportunity of being part of a community called ‘7 cups’. 7 cups is a website that provides online therapy and free support to people experiencing distress by connecting them with trained listeners. Like I said earlier, sometimes it is just easier talking to a stranger than a known person.

So while the whole debate of Online strangers turned friends in a virtual space is good or bad, is for every individual to take a personal call – Online connectivity and the fact that the world is slowly coming together is (or rather are) steps in the right direction.

I am part of 4 WhatsApp groups, members of that particular group who I personally do not know, but share similar interests with – is an opportunity to share knowledge, build connections and who knows where it could lead to… and that is where I’d like to bring in a different aspect of how online connections can get you to places you’ve never been to, money in currencies you don’t earn in.. and an opportunity in a country you’ve probably you’ve never heard of…

Over to my co-writer who will enlighten you further

Further to what Savio mentioned about how we’ve transformed from Yahoo Messenger to the current state, let me personally tell you that being online has transformed me in more than one way. Work-wise, I belong to a shared service industry where I support regions other than India. And over the last 12 years, I have built some excellent professional relationships only by being online. While I work from home these days due to the pandemic, I keep 2 dedicated hours in the morning only to talk to my Kiwi and Australian counterparts. All this happens over hangout messenger and calls. It doesn’t stop here. We finalize financial reports, sales numbers, and profit numbers all through the same medium. And you will definitely agree with me that this is common in the IT industry as well!

Coincidentally, I developed my passion by writing too by being online. This made way to some beautiful relationships that blossomed through the online medium. To mention two, in particular, Savio and Charlie, even though I have never met either of them in person, I am very comfortable talking to them and picking up writing from where they have left off… this post from Savio and many previously written story relays from Charlie.

I am also a part of a wonderful blogging community, again, I have met none in person but on the virtue of penning down my thoughts, I got the opportunity to evolve my passion of writing into a second profession. Presently I am coordinating with many people via regular online meetings to understand their requirements and write content for their website. Now, isn’t this awesome?

I think being ‘in line with the online world’ is the futuristic way to life. We all need to do it in different proportions and capacities. Today everything is available virtually – schooling, banking, hobby classes, jobs, and professions, and thanks to this pandemic, catching up with parents and friends also happens through the same online medium.

Cheers to this new way of life!

Like Aditi said earlier, it’s not in the physical meeting but in the connection that is formed between individuals that one can take off from where the other has left. With coming onboard with the whole ‘getting online’ situation, the world has gotten closer inter-state and within countries – no doubt, but have the offline connections suffered at the expense of excessive screen time?

The lessons have been many throughout this past week, a couple of them more with this post. (for everyone who can point out the lessons learned through this post, gets a virtual date with an exclusive ‘Aditi-Savio’ meet [yes! that’s a THING now])

If you’ve paused even for a few seconds to think about what you’ve just read, we’d consider ‘our’ job well done. It isn’t always about the information imparted but our abilities to self introspect after reading the views on various topics presented through this amazing platform, how the mind works, what makes us tickwhat is that one particular word/ phrase or sentence that helps us ponder, heal, smile or even at best go and reach out to that person you’ve always wanted to.. but never ended up doing.

Cheers to life! Cheers to relationships! Cheers to what’s ahead – we’re all doing our little bit to contribute to the bigger goal, making this world a better place and as long as we’re doing that, we have nothing to worry.

My fellow Candles, and all you lovely readers – this one is dedicated to all of you.


Also if I may add, being professionals in our respective fields, Aditi & myself both felt this little post of ours was dished out more like a presentation, you know the kind that people stand on the stage and deliver?

So, if you are more of that visually inclined person and see words come live in front of you as you read – this is right up your alley, you are free to visualize us on a stage speaking the same, suited up, smiling and holding on to that mic as if it were the most precious thing ever.

Collaboratively written by Aditi Ranade & Savio Paes

ARE WE RAISING A BRITTLE GENERATION?

When the popular Bollywood star Sushant Singh Rajput committed suicide I was shell shocked. Only question in my mind was WHY?

I mean as a typical middle class person we all aspire for the success, fame and money. And he had it all… So what went wrong?

He is not alone. Recently there was news of a 17 year old Tik Tok star committed suicide. This social media star enjoyed a huge following on various social media platforms and had gained immense popularity due to her dance videos. So again the question – WHY?

Another actress of the ‘Balika Vadhu’  fame and contestant of Big Boss too committed suicide couple of years back.

These are just a few famous people we know so their deaths have made headlines. There are thousands others – students, housewives, patients etc who give up on their life and it is just a small news item in some inside page of the newspaper. And a notable trend is that the number of young people giving up easily and choosing death as a way out over the struggles is on mercurial rise. And many a times the reasons too are quite absurd.

* Problem – Failure in exams; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – Didn’t get the new iPhone; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – Parents denied night out with friends; Solution – Suicide.

* Problem – not enough social media following; Solution – Suicide.

And I can go on with the seemingly funny reasons that we can laugh away but serious enough for this generation to take the dreaded decision or at least emotionally blackmail their loved ones into accepting their clueless demands, as well as jetting them in deep sorrow because of their weakness to confront issues or simply lack of trust on the bond they share with their close ones or simply because of their low to no comprehension of life and its value.

The question that looms large is why? We have a big hand in glove in raising such a brittle generation. See how:

  • The primary reason I understand is the parenting styles. I have seen parents of the mindset that “I will provide everything that my child desires. He /she will not suffer as I did in my childhood for small things because heck I can afford it“. This mindset of new age parenting is actually denying the children their right to evolve and grow strong. The struggle is cut short by providing everything readymade in platter hence snatching away from them the entire exercise and experience of knowing the value of things and they end up taking life very lightly only to be hit hard in the real world. When they grow up and the world does not fulfill all their demands like their parents used to they are at a loss on how to handle the situation. This is the point where they succumb easily to even the slightest of pressures.
  • Not being able to handle a loss is also another major cause of breakdown. Be it a breakup or death of a loved ones; be it a failure in an exam or business or career, some people really struggle hard to cope with it. As parents we need to make a child emotionally strong also. I personally as a mother tell my kids that it’s ok to fall, to fail, to lose because be it a game or life situations change. Not every moment or person is same. You might get hurt but you must know the art of self healing. And I firmly believe that this mental grind must start at young age. Usually we see parents intentionally losing to kids so that they see them happy and as they grow up parents want kids to win for their (parents’) happiness, irony isn’t it? Efforts must be consciously made to make our children understand that losing is not a big deal but not trying again or losing hope surely is. I see rather an alternative approach where winning, coming first, excelling in every sphere for the recognition purposes, being perfect is being encouraged. That is creating an immense pressure on young minds.
  • The prevailing education system sadly is not creating great characters. Our curriculum is on great deficiency when it comes to imparting good value in its students. It’s more or less a system following “demand and supply” theory. The occupation in vogue in the market decides the curriculum of the young ones. Educational institutions are no more a character building laboratories but factories mass producing robots having no substance / knowledge when it comes to their inner mechanisms (read mind and soul) in the face of extreme life situations. Surprisingly a lame man from a village is far more tactical, holding more wisdom and knowledge about life than a Masters degree holder just out of the college with no exposure to life outside the campus. And rightfully he is not the one to be blamed. In the first case life has given the needed lessons but in the second case the education on which the students rely so much for their betterment must have enough material to train the young minds. It’s really appalling that world history has witnessed numerous great personalities whose patience, hard work, perseverance, never say die attitude, humility we can swear by are either never a part of the text books our kids read or simply mentioned as a blink and miss chronology just to add the volume of the book. To put it precisely our education system is actually churning out literates and not educated ones with strong minds.
  • Wrong concept of “space” has doomed us. 10 years of age and we fear saying something to our own kids. They might get hurt, their space might get encroached, they might feel ashamed of our involvement in their lives… give me a break!!! These are the guidelines on which new age parenting is working on. This extreme fear of “we might hurt them” is actually making kids overtly sensitive. Imagine a baby is crawling towards an electrical switch board, what would be the immediate action of the parent , stop the baby or he/she will get hurt, isn’t it? Then why parents of young kids fear the reaction and go to inaction mode? Wouldn’t that harm your baby ? Is the world outside so considerate? It is our responsibility to train our children into a strong personality by telling them wrong and right for our grey hair isn’t just age but experience too. Its absolutely ok if they feel bad now but have the last laugh when life puts them in a tricky position for they know the solution. Giving space doesn’t mean dancing to their unacceptable whims and fancies but respecting their opinions, giving a thought to their ideas and thought processes, providing an amicable environment for their invidualities to prosper in a fruitful manner.

The crux lies in how we nurture our gen next. Right from the beginning one thing must be made clear : Life is not a bed of roses and world is ruthless. Whatever results your choices bear, own them up and don’t kneel down for we have your back!!! And one thing we must remember : Attachment and Love are not synonymous. Attachment with our kids impedes us from being strong whereas our Love for them groom them into a strong personality; an individual with an individuality even if it means being adamant or painted in bad light sometimes.

***Not a parenting tip but an emotional note: I think what a troubled person genuinely needs is empathy and a listening ear. There are already demons inside their heads telling them that their lives are not worth living. So they don’t need any more judgments or rationalizations they need someone to hear them out, pay attention and understand.***

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY KALPANA VOGETI AND KULJEET SAINI

 

IS HATRED THE WAY TO DEAL WITH THE NEW NORMAL?

Today, HATE has become a new normal in our societies! The Christchurch mosque shootings are still fresh in my thoughts. Close to 50 people lost their lives in the peaceful land. There were kids, foreigners who had no connection with that hate crime what so ever in those 50 people. New Zealanders picked up all the pieces left over by that brutal crime with extreme pain and suffering. The whole world paid tributes., There are many such instances happening all over the world. Many are affected directly, some lost their loved ones. Peace and tranquillity are at stake. 

Recently came across an article regarding increase of hate crimes during the Corona pandemic. The analysis was that there could be stereotyped conclusions that people belonging to certain countries or regions or race don’t follow hygiene practices. This is the time when humans should have more compassion towards each other than hatred, yet, we are slowly drifting towards hate. Hate is not new to us. We have come across several instances even inside a family about how hatred can destroy lives. Close to 5K hate crimes are reported every year across the world. 

There are religious hate crimes, racist hate crimes, homophobic hate crimes, crimes against the LGBTQ community, sectarian hate crimes we hear about on an everyday basis. Makes me wonder if we have set some strict boundaries for normal? Anything that does not fall into this category bothers us to an extent that it won’t matter if a life is lost? Nine out of ten hate crimes have violence, often the offender is armed. Hate speech is also considered as one of the factors for a hate crime. Maybe, it develops from thoughts to language used. 

Does hate crime have more impact than the regular crime? Most probably the answer to this would be a yes. 

  • Victims are left with fear even after they survive the attack.
  • There is always a threat of attacks in the future. 
  • On a larger scale, this could affect a group of individuals. 
  • Hate crimes also give a strong message that the victim is not accepted by society.

Hate crimes not only cause physical pain, but they also leave a mark on the mental wellbeing of the victims. It is a negative emotion to handle when the situation is not very favourable. People might even feel threatened to leave the city or country they live in to save themselves. 

Well, in the hate stories why can’t a perpetrator sensitize the pain of the victim? How come the monstrous look of brutality does not haunt the perpetrator?

Unknown to me but someone has rightly said,

“Insecurity is an ugly thing, it makes you hate people you don’t even know.”

HATERS ALWAYS PLAY THE VICTIM CARD. Haters always feel insecure about reasoning, sacredness, righteousness, love, and truth since they have concealed themselves of deceptions. A deceived mind believes lies and as a result of it, they consider anything that is good and reasonable as their opponent, and the only way to secure yourself is taking a notorious way out. To deal with haters (victims of deception), the Bible teaches,

“Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling but on the contrary,

bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing.”

An untamed horse is of no use but a well-tamed horse crowns you with glory so is with human passion. Passion for money, sex, luxury, and power is natural for both the rich and rags but it is always the unbridled passion disrupts our character. THE UNTAMED PASSION OF HATERS convinces our mind to strategies for prey and the evil of hate in our heart-mind bridles us for a hateful crime. Every 15 minutes, a girl is raped in India, and every second crime is organized and loots are legalized around the globe today. Hating something/someone is obvious to the human mind and the passion of hate serves as bait and for which the Bible advises us –

“Nail your passion and sinful desires to the cross and crucify them there

before it entices you to shameless acts, later receiving the due penalty for it.”  

Hate is always by a person for a person, so the personhood is intrinsic in every hate crime. The endpoint of the haters in every hate crime can be better understood by recalibrating The Wolf In Sheep-skin story –

A wolf was walking in the countryside. He found a sheep-skin spread on the ground. He thought, “If I wear this skin and get mixed up in the flock, the shepherd will not suspect me. At night, I will kill a stout-sheep and then take him away with me”. As he had expected, the shepherd took him as a sheep and shut him also in the pen. The wolf was waiting for the night. The shepherd had a feast that night. He sent a servant to fetch a fat sheep. The servant saw the sheep-skin covered wolf by chance. That night, the guests had the wolf for supper.

Responding to hate against hate gives the starting point to another hate crime. But God in His goodness never withholds justice from the unjust victims of hate crimes. There is always sunshine after darkness. Therefore, God in the Bible says,

“The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scripture say, “I WILL PAY THEM BACK, says the LORD”.”

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY AASTHA AND AVINASH

CARING FOR THE CAREGIVERS

Being a caregiver is not easy. It necessitates commitment, sacrifice, compassion and patience as the chief virtues. Whether or not one has the attributes needed to be a caregiver and whether or not one is prepared to be one, sometime across the lifespan one has to play the role of a caregiver.

You don’t have to think too deep to figure out who a caregiver is! Isn’t there a wife or a husband, a mother or a father, an aunt or an uncle, a brother or a sister who is a caregiver in each household? These are routine caregivers. And then, there are specialist caregivers – nurses/ paramedics in hospitals, people trained (either professionally or by virtue of experience) to take care of differently-abled people or terminally ill patients, nannies/ babysitters, etc.

While they provide the much-needed care for others, who takes care of them? Do we realize that the caregivers around us need to be cared for too?

Be it a routine or a specialist caregiver, s/he is also a human in need of care in ways not necessarily overtly evident. As care-receivers or simply as observers of caregivers, what are the things we can be vigilant about:

  1. Caregiver burnout – Committed caregivers have the tendency to continue to care even when they are drained out. And so, it usually escapes cognizance that the caregiver also needs a break from care-giving. A burnt-out caregiver might continue to provide care, but the efficiency gradually starts going down the hill.
  2. Caregiver anxiety – Just because a person is into the role of care-giving, doesn’t mean that s/he is a confident juggler against all odds. Just because a caregiver might wear a caring smile most of the time, doesn’t mean that she is not mentally battling with issues. A caregiver’s anxiety may be due to the care-receiver/s or purely personal.
  3. Caregiver finances (if s/he is a paid caregiver) – Though professional caregivers who are hired from Consultancies are secure about the remuneration they receive, not all have such assurances. At times, caregivers in dire need of finances offer their services for petty sums.
  4. Caregiver emotions – Caregivers are not robots. They have emotions too. Their emotions might go unspoken and unexpressed many times. At other times, their spoken and expressed emotions might go unheeded.
  5. Caregiver needs and wants – Caregivers often render sacrificial service ignoring their personal needs and wants. This is an area that requires sensitivity by significant others.

To sum it up Caregivers are In, Among, Around and One of Us. So our responsibility towards them gets all the more enhanced because at the end of the day we are only helping ourselves. Ironically our selfishness is actually our selflessness, working towards a greater cause and a token of gratitude towards our Caregivers. Let’s take a deep introspection :

  • Talking about the caregivers and their services towards the society and the country, this pandemic period has brought forth how our front line service providers – Doctors, Nurses, Sanitation Workers are risking their lives to provide care for the ailing people and help them fight the dreadful virus and reconcile with their loved ones. It’s not that we are oblivious to their services but these testing times have made us witness their courageous, selfless side. So how can we do our bit to help them win this contest against an unknown enemy? Simple, follow the hygiene and sanitation rules to the T and making sure every individual (family) continues to do the same. This simple act would make sure that the splurge of numbers in the hospitals is contained giving a breathing space to our caregivers to focus better on vaccine trials which could mean a solution to this humongous problem and not just a hide out. And aren’t we helping ourselves at the end of the day?
  • The above mentioned way has a non linear correlation between our action and the ensuing result. But there are other more linear ways of exhibiting that – “We care for our caregivers”. Own their families like our own, in the absence of the warriors (they are indeed warriors shielding us) take care of their needs (can be deep as emotional or momentary need of groceries) or at least as a helping hand and a generous word to be around. That makes a lot of difference. To know that their family is not alone in their absence goes a long way in fighting off their anxieties on one front (even superheroes have families to look after, isn’t it?). Not every help is necessarily financial. Every small and intangible gesture too matters. When caregivers are busy caring for our families, let’s be family for their families.

This is just a bird’s eye view of how we could reciprocate for the selfless service we are receiving (especially in reference to the current situation). We need to ponder harder over this.

Identifying the psychopaths, very important!!! Society isn’t free of black sheep. When the entire world clapped and lit candles in respect of the great service our caregivers are doing to the mankind there are a certain clan of people (of rotten mindset, nothing to do with any ethnicity whatsoever) who not only denied to accept the role our front liners are playing but went an extra mile to insult them. From spitting to pelting stones; from beating to demanding evacuation of their rented accommodations; from hurling personal insults to torturing their families – few sick minded people have done it all and sadly all around the world. Such people with their shallow comprehension of life bifurcated the caregivers for simple reason of their close liaison with the effected people albeit they might get infected too. Fear is justified to an extent but foolishness and cruelty can’t be. “What if that patient is from my family?”,”What if the caregiver doesn’t come forward to my aid?” – simple questions that needs to be answered individually before venting out venom. There is also a creed of people from whom life is a mere Profit & Loss statement. Their crude mentality comes across in the absurd manner they put across this statement – “so what, don’t they get salaries?, they aren’t doing any social service?” Though a slap is an appropriate answer to such gibberish talk but holding the civility together few questions to be fired at them “would you risk your life for the same amount of salary they get?”, “would you forgo your family time to shield hopes of a stranger?”

Coming back to our focal point of discussion – How to show / convey to our caregivers that we care – Act responsibly – it sums it all. Every citizen taking care of themselves reduces the undue burden on our caregivers that might arise out of our recklessness. And for rest they are there anyways!

Special mention: They might not be counted as Caregivers but the service they render can never be discounted – Police Force & Security Forces. Irrespective of the situations prevailing in the country these forces are on their toes to make sure that we are safe in our safe havens. They dare the weather, sacrifice their family time, face the bullets and lay down their lives with a sense of pride. Don’t they deserve our recognition and appreciation?

  • So what can we do to help our police personnel. Just be alert! This is the minimum how we can help them. If something antisocial is going on around us we should inform the concerned authorities in time. No tolerance of injustice is actually justice served. Even a single case less in our police stations is our way of showing our respect to our caregivers (from a different perspective) – our policemen.
  • Just like our policemen are keeping us safe internally our security forces are guarding us from external forces. What is our responsibility then – we must stop fueling hatred within the boundaries in the name of caste, religion, language. Is it too much to ask for?

An orderly stable financial support is definitely an added perk to our caregivers but what brings forth their zeal to shower their care is – A bright smile, A warm embrace, An assurance of being together and around, and A responsible behaviour, period.

 

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY RAJNANDINI SAHU AND KALPANA VOGETI

MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE

When Shalini reached office that morning, all she wanted was a few moments of quietness to gather herself after all that had happened the previous night. She couldn’t get this privilege, though. To her utter dismay, a pile of files landed on her table with a call from her authority to wrap them up in an hour and report. Jostling with the thoughts within, she managed to work on all the files and get them sent. Within minutes, she was called by her superior and given a mouthful for the shabby work and issued a Notice of Show Cause.

Shalini’s story is the story of many working men and women. Physical well-being impacts mental health and mental well-being impacts physical health, though physical fitness is not always an indicator of mental fitness. So often, we focus on our physical health not realising that mental health is also a part and parcel of ‘health’.

For people who work outside home, the workplace is where they spend a large part of their time. Hence, mental health in the workplace ought to be important.

What are the threats to sound mental health in the workplace?

  • Long work hours without breaks
  • Partial/ unjust favours rendered to others at one’s expense
  • Labelling and gossip
  • Spying on personal life and leaking stories at the workplace
  • Personal ill-health
  • A disturbed family life
  • Insensitive authorities
  • Lack of adequate rest
  • Abysmal work area conditions (poor lighting, stinky surroundings, dirty walls/ rooms, etc.)
  • Sexual harassment
  • Life threats
  • Lack of job security (frequent lay-offs)
  • Underpayment/ Irregular payment
  • Pressure to conform to the work culture at the cost of one’s individuality

What happens when workplace mental health is not emphasized upon?

Efficiency and productivity at work reduces – Work performance dips. Energetic confident performance gives way to sluggish below-the-mark outputs.

Irritable temperament develops – Ever observed a colleague/ subordinate/ superior being up in arms about something or the other all the time? Well, it is not just the behavior that needs to be modified there but the underlying cause needs addressing.

Psychological disorders crop up – Most cases of Generalized Anxiety Disorders (GAD) in working people develop overtime due to workplace demands.

Psychosomatic symptoms – Body pains with no medical reasons, persistent headaches, and nausea are just a few of the physiological manifestations of psychological causes.

Unwanted relationships – Having to spend a large chunk of time away from loved ones creates space for unwanted relationships to develop which ultimately causes disturbance in one’s personal, familial and work life.

Addictions – People take to alcohol or other addictions to douse certain workplace flares – humiliation from the boss, lack of job security, etc.

So, then how can mental health in the workplace be addressed?

Each one of us has a responsibility to take care of our mental health. We need to take care of our minds like we take care of our children. There are different things that work differently for people but here are some guidelines that can be followed to ensure that we don’t lose it. 

Take time out for your own hobbies – This is really important. For some people reading or writing can be stress-buster for others it could be cooking. Somebody might enjoy meditation while somebody else can enjoy dance. Whatever it is that works for you – invest at least an hour each day on your hobbies.

Give priority to self and learn to say “NO” – Well, this is the toughest thing to do – saying NO to your boss. Take a step back and think that if you work for an organization, where you don’t have an option to say a NO – you deserve a better workplace. 

Relook at the definition of success – For many of us, the definition of success is to reach a certain level of organizational ladder or to have a certain amount of bank balance. Such a definition of success puts us in a rat race that we can never win. Relook at what success means to you. Is it being a CEO or is it being a successful parent? Is it having X amount of money in the account or is it being a happy person? Decide for yourself.

Build a support system – It scares me when I see the number of people (apparently successful) giving up their lives. I wonder why they didn’t have a support system. We can never build our support system when we are stressed. We need to build it when we are happy (normal). Have a set of friends who can be your “Agony aunts”. It is really important to have people who can pull you out of a stressful situation.

Learn to identify when you are stressed – This is very challenging. So, have a checklist of stress. If you mark most of the items in that checklist as YES, then you need to take a break. The checklist might have things listed above as symptoms of bad mental health. 

Of course, each individual is different and these guidelines might not be enough to cover everything. Follow what makes you happy, don’t follow a rat race. Don’t wait for that heart attack to give you an alarm of your situation. Look at it right now and make it better right away.

COLLABORATIVELY WRITTEN BY RAJNANDINI SAHU AND PRABHJOT SAINI

IS BATTLING TRAUMA THE NEW NORMAL?

Traumatic events are common, and most people will experience at least one during their lives.”

I am sure the above statement I quoted from an article has truth in it. Most of us have gone through one or two traumatic experiences in our lives; some are devastating and some we could manage to handle easily. Though one thing I can say, trauma is not something that we should bypass or ignore.

But what is TRAUMA?

The Google dictionary defines it as, “a deeply distressing or disturbing experience.”

And what are those distressing or disturbing experiences – rape, domestic violence, natural disasters, severe illness or injury, death of a loved one, witnessing extreme violence…the list is endless. Sadly, the distressing experiences that I enlisted are reported to be in plenty during this pandemic period.

I don’t remember how I celebrated Christmas last year in 2019 and the new year eve to welcome 2020. But what is imprinted and imbibed within me today is the name and fear of Coronavirus. During lockdown in April 2020, I was, in fact, we all were actually not very aware of the post Covid19 situation but when we crossed the month of May, we started to feel the chill of its deadly and long-term effects.

According to an article published in CNBC last March, the researchers have warned that the coronavirus pandemic could inflict long-lasting emotional trauma on an unprecedented global scale. They also warned that it could leave millions fighting with debilitating psychological disorders while facing a devastating economic crisis.

Take for example a househelp who works in Pradita’s building. Lockdown norms aside, she encouraged the househelp to stay at home while she continues to pay her monthly salary. The conundrum that poor househelp is facing is that since even her husband lost his job just before the lockdown, her salary is not enough to pay for her month’s expenses. She faces an eviction from her landlord because she has been unable to pay her rent for the last four months. Worse still, since employability is questionable unless the lockdown lifts, she has no means of finding work anywhere. She is not alone in feeling mentally exhausted from finding ways to sustain her family. There are many cases of companies letting off people, or establishments folding. It hurts not just the pocket, but our heads and hearts too.

Add to that the constant fear that even a simple humane action like a pat on the back can infect you has sent many behind doors because there’s no way of knowing how you could get infected. The trauma is not just confined to the world, it permeates within the family too. Overworked housewives find no recourse when their husbands abuse them. Young children find themselves locked in with perpetrators of unspeakable crimes. Or they feel the wrath of harrowed parents who are trying to eke out a living in meagre means. Outside the house, crime rates may have dropped but they have increased within your four walls. Family fights between dissenting adults, while not a crime, does make us more prone to emotional abuse and worry.

Do you think I am traumatic as well? There’s no doubt about it. Being congenitally a heart patient, I am extremely venerable to this virus and thus I suffer trauma as all others. Last week, I had caught a cold and slept having a cold medicine at night. The next day in the morning around 5:30 AM, I felt a choking sensation in my throat and sat up with a heart rate of over 150 beats per minute. I called up my brother Anupam and talking to him calmed me down. But the fear took some time to subside since even small, strange sensations in my body, though irrelevant, would also make me panic.

If I am in this state of mind, then just imagine about the people who are frontline workers,  those who have lost their loved ones, those who are the actual survivors of COVID-19, those are in isolation or quarantined for days, and those who have lost their jobs, the only means of living!!!

Gripped in fear, I wonder, “Is this the new normal that we all have to adjust with – living in trauma?”

I really don’t have the answer to this question if I think about those who are affected and victims already. But I have a list of DO’s and DON’Ts for all of us who are still unaffected in the real sense.

Following are a few ways we can cope with stress and trauma during this pandemic situation:

By Avoiding News Channels and Stats: While it is good, prudent even, to keep yourself updated about the pandemic and the government rules emerging as nations constantly adapt to this fast-mutating-virus, it isn’t good for your emotional health to obsess over the news. It isn’t uncommon for people to spread rumours in times like these. If you can’t suspend your disbelief, then avoid watching too many news items and statistics about death and sickness. An overload of information can trigger panic attacks and constantly keep us in a state of worrying.  Watching or viewing horrific images over and over again can overwhelm our nervous system, making it harder to keep our mind calm.

By Following Healthy Self-Care Practices: The best cure to avoid this pandemic is avoidance itself. Refrain from public places or meetings as best as you can, keep yourself healthy by practicing good eating habits and regular workouts. Sanitize! As many times as you can. But if you’re one of those who have to stay at home even for work, and work is not enough distraction, try inculcating a passion for a hobby. I keep myself engaged in binge-watching, making new videos, posters, and writing poems when I struggle with a negative atmosphere all around. Reading, singing, thread-work, listening to music, even working-out are some good practices to keep ourselves away from traumatic thoughts. Remember to keep a healthy mind and heart by practicing good habits.

By Building Human Connection: Social distancing is the norm, but luckily for us, we have technology handy to connect us. Use it judiciously to network with those closest to you. It is important to stay connected to our friends and families. Encourage it in children as well because this lockdown has been especially hard on their budding sense of community. There are many children who may come out feeling shy or being awkward after this pandemic is over. Prevent that by inculcating a habit of letting them network through supervised calls or meets. Vent, emote, and provoke others to talk. Human connection and support are crucial during these stressful and traumatic periods.

By Holding back major life decisions: You want to invest in property? Start a new venture? Or even change your child’s school? Hold onto that idea but act later when this pandemic is over. People are losing jobs or facing cutbacks. The government is trying hard to come up with ways to keep the economy afloat. Think twice before you make a major life decision because it could add to your stress levels. If it’s not urgent; if it won’t kill you, it can wait.

By Accepting and Acting upon the situation: When we can’t help ourselves in some matters it is useless to worry about it. In fact, it is better to get involved in the action of doing what is right at a given moment wherever we are. Trying to get back to our normal life in a new way is better than just feeling worried about the whole thing. Worrying, whining, cribbing and crying are unproductive attitudes that only add to your trauma without taking away from the problem.

By Relying on God: In the end, I always believe and trust that our God, the creator is always active and in control in every situation that goes on here on this earth. If God is not there, then trusting in Him won’t be harmful but if He exists then how wonderful is it to put our reliance on Him?

Trauma is as much a mental as it is a physical ailment and, in some cases, it is only about the mental abuse a person goes through. It is lucky that modifying the way we approach a problem is in our hands – we can do something to change our mindset. Without taking away from the grievous losses of those who have lost loved ones during this time, this pandemic is more of a psychological menace than a physical one. We are feeling alienated when we aren’t. Physical separation does not have to mean an emotional separation too. Besides, there are more cases of people recovering than people dying. Take heart in the fact that one can recover from this. Take heart in the fact that we have all learned to be self-sufficient, now taking only as much as we need. We have already started defeating the trauma inflicted by this virus by adapting ourselves. We all are strong survivors anyway as we were created and blessed by God to subdue the earth and have dominion over it wisely. And that is surely something to celebrate.

Collaboratively written by Chiradeep Patra and Pradita Kapahi

I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

Prompt: She turned to see who was behind her…

(Image Credit – Google Inc.)

She turned to see who was behind her, but before she could completely take in the view – somebody hugged her tightly. It was dark and she couldn’t figure out who it was but it was a similar touch, a similar fragrance of the man she had loved all her life. Now at the age of 83, she didn’t have to see his face. She knew him – every touch of him and the feel of his aura. They knew each other so well and even after 60 years of marriage, they were deeply in love.

She let him hug her while the quiet tears moistened her cheeks. He said – “I told you I will never leave you till you are alive, and I never did.” She closed her eyes and remembered the day of her husband’s funeral. It was his encompassing love for her as he had promised, remained then and forever.