Updated: Jul 25
It has been 4 months since lockdown and the struggle to stay sane is making everyone edgy. It is the story of every household, the fight of each individual, and the dilemma of when would we be able to return to the old normal… Welcome to the new world order!
I don’t know if you also feel the same way but not being able to breathe in the fresh air is driving me crazy. The thought of living my whole life wearing a mask, and washing or sanitizing my hands every hour is dreadful.
Even though I am not able to understand, what is more disturbing - not being able to meet family and friends? Or Consoling myself that it is the best I can do for their and my own safety? Yet I go through this conversation in my head every single day, hoping tomorrow will be better than today. Do you also feel the same?
Why are Most of Us Facing The Struggle to Stay Sane?
We all have been home for too long now. Most of us are still working from home. Some of you are confined in the red zone, and there is no house help to cater to household chores. Schools are closed, offices have shut down, people are apprehensive to meet each other. The lifestyle we maintained with thrice a month outings - movie, kitty party, dining out, and weekend clubbing has instantly come to a halt.
Often we are so tired that we have forgotten what it feels like to be dressed up for an occasion. I have become so lame to find an apt outfit to my all-time-stay-at-home avatar that pajamas and tee shirts have become my favorite since the announcement of lockdown. Loose clothing does help me keep calm.
The struggle to stay sane is real. But some people will still ask you that with a roof on your head, food in your plate, and clothes on your body, what is making you struggle to keep your cool?
However privileged one maybe, covid19 has certainly broken nearly all of us, some physically, some emotionally, others mentally and many are financially broke. So, here are a few reasons that I realized made our struggle to stay sane look bizarre.
Unresolved Emotions that We Don't Let Go Off
We all have a parallel life to how others perceive us. And sometimes even our family does not know the impact of a situation on us. To maintain peace with ourselves and others we often put our feelings under the carpet.
When the honeymoon period of lockdown and the pandemic was over, the burden of everyday responsibilities started tearing us apart. Our unresolved emotions erupted like a volcano, boom! Fights and arguments took over the relationship and family harmony. It is neither easy nor healthy staying in a place of guilt, shame, hate, anger, or jealousy. Resolve, feel your emotions, and let them pass.
Oftentimes, our head needs to be clearer. We are more than other people's perceptions of who we are.
What to do:
Take a break from your mundane responsibilities for a day. Ask for help and you shall receive. Enjoy this time rejuvenating by resolving your uncatered emotions. Talk to a family member if you have to or share your feelings with an entrusted friend. But shed the burden off your shoulders.
Staying home all the time has been challenging. Don’t let it drive you nuts when you can get all the help that you need.
The Disappearing Line Between Job and Home is Creating an Imbalanced Lifestyle
Clearly, the thin line that marked personal and professional life apart, seem to have disappeared. Staying at home has not necessarily proved a happy coexistence for everyone. If one partner is toiling at the home front - laundry, cooking, cleaning, kids study, the other one is busy working from early AM to late PM to ensure salary coming in at the end of each month.
Neither is to be blamed for not being available for the other. And yet it is challenging to adjust to each other's tantrums and mood swings because of the work pressure each one is facing.
A tablespoon effort of time management, a prioritized to-do list, and a pinch of understanding can be your recipe for a healthy and happy home environment. Let's accept it, the times are unpredictable. And the only thing that can keep us all sane is love, care, empathy, compassion, self-acknowledgment of our feelings, and acceptance of other's shortcomings, in short, being human.
What to do:
If possible make amendments in your working hours. Set a time for office work and be realistic to not let your job ruin your family quietude. On weekends pitch in to help your partner with household chores. Try to strike a balance between work-from-home and work-at-home.
Maids have Migrated to their Hometown
This reason, I feel, is by far the most exasperating. The only time anyone of us may have enjoyed washing utensils and moping our house is during Lockdown 1.0. We eventually realized we are living in India, where cheap labor is suddenly extinct, and our emergency coping mechanisms have already finished the marathon. The ones in a nuclear set-up are still able to divide the work and maintain an equilibrium. But the ones, mostly women, staying in the joint family system are adversely affected.
It is no joke to stand all day cooking meals for the entire family who do not have control over their taste bud and fancy food demands. So if the demands increase, so should the number of helping hands. Isn’t it?
What to do:
Everyone in the family should make themselves useful. Offer to help - wash and cut vegetables, set-up the dining table or clear after everyone's finished eating. You can also help by washing vessels once a day. There is laundry, dusting, sweeping, mopping, wardrobe cleaning. The list of housework does not end here.
Be generous in small ways. It can help someone to keep calm and stay sane.
The Pressure of Home-Schooling Kids through Virtual Classes
Schools are shut but education is not. I agree that teachers are working harder than ever to teach through virtual classes. But at the same time parents have become a bridge between the teachers and children for information crossover.
I am not a very WhatsApp friendly person. And the only reason I have my presence on this time-wasting platform is my kids' school. They have a school portal and snap homework to share the updates and class/homework. But it's only for ‘show and don’t use’ I believe.
Parents, like me, who have their hands full with house chores (my maid has conveniently transported herself to her village), and my own work-from-home (I am a blogger and it took me nearly 2 months to remember that in the current situation) don’t quite appreciate the idea of phone schooling. And then I am a chef, a nurse, a hairstylist, an alarm clock, a stopwatch, a lot of roles to my kids, and now a teacher too. It is overwhelming for any parent.
Today if someone asks me ‘what is the first thing that you would do if you become the prime minister of India?’ I would reply, ‘Ban home-schooling’. Children should be taught to explore and question, and not just read textbooks, write answers, study for exams, and forget. I guess the pressure on kids to stay home without meeting their friends, no outings, or play dates, is anyways too much.
What to do:
Well, I am no educationist to provide a solution to this issue. But as a parent, I feel there should be less screen time and more innovative and experimental work. There could be many creative ways for virtual learning than just sharing screens for reading chapters from textbooks to finish the syllabus.
Current Status: Jobless
Not everyone has sailed out of the pandemic crisis lucky. Many are trapped in the vicious cycle of loans they took before lockdown and are now unable to repay. And others who have lost their jobs are on the verge of depression. The question is ‘how long can you survive without a job?’ And a bigger question ‘Are there relevant jobs for your skill types?’
It isn’t easy to face every day when the struggle is about getting food on the table.
What to do:
Look around, just be nice to people who are having a bad day. This is the least you can do to help someone. It may not resolve their problems but at least an act of kindness can reinstate hope for a better time ahead. And if you can, help someone you know in need, without making them feel ashamed of their current situation. Everyone is worthy of respect. Protect their dignity.
Not Being Able to Meet Friends and Family can Make You Anxious
It is heart-breaking to see the covid19 cases on the rise with each passing day. A lot has happened over the last 4 months. Some of us have lost our loved ones but we couldn’t make it to their last rites. While there are others who have seen their loved ones suffer in pain but could not extend a helping hand. There can be nothing more heart wrenching than not being able to hug your friends and family. As much it adversely affects our mental health it also breaks us emotionally.
What to do:
Call and talk to your parents and siblings every day. A video call once every three days can be therapeutic. By sharing screens you can be a part of their life and vice versa. Friends are the ones who can be disturbed anytime. So pick up your phone and make that call you have been waiting for long. Live in the now. For tomorrow can only be found in your mind.
So, whether we want to believe it or not the struggle to stay sane in these times is real. And it can be dealt with a little support from our family. If you are the one suffering, ask for help. If you see anyone in the family suffer, extend a helping hand.