Few years ago, the Danish mental health trend or ‘hygge’ took the world by storm. Hygge (pronounced hoo-gah) originates from the Norwegian word for ‘wellbeing’ and is believed to be loosely connected to the English word ‘hug’. In essence, hygge means creating a homely, warm atmosphere and enjoying the simple things in life with good people around you. But, what happens when you are locked in that same home for days at end, ‘socially distant’ from all friends and peers? Leading psychiatrist and motivational speaker Dr Samyak Tiwari talks to us about the importance of healthy mental wellbeing and the impact of the COVID 19 pandemic on it.
“We humans are creatures of habits; we are social animals. Thus, the sudden lockdown or rather ‘house arrest’ has affected a lot of us. People may feel worried or anxious about finances, health or close ones. Perhaps one might feel bored, frustrated or lonely. But most importantly, it is vital to remember that it’s OK to feel this way. People often say, it is the new normal. But I refuse to accept that not meeting your loved ones, shunning restaurants and wearing a mask all the time can ever be normal. These are not normal times, and it is okay to feel so.
The COVID 19 pandemic has brought in a new lifestyle. Children cannot go to school or play, employees have to juggle domestic chores and office responsibilities together and the not so tech savvy elderlies are confined alone in their homes. These are difficult times. But the human mind is one of the strongest of all and if we set our minds on to something, we can overcome the worst of the situations. But to overcome anything, your mind should be strong. Your mind should be happy.
Having a good mental health, or being mentally healthy, is more than just the absence of illness; rather it is a state of overall wellbeing. Good mental wellbeing does not necessarily mean that one is happy all the time or unaffected by any experience. However, poor mental wellbeing can make it difficult to cope with daily life.
While these are not-so-normal times, one can try to make the best out of your situation. It is important to stay productive during these times as this will keep you away from negative thoughts. Remember all those plans you made to learn the guitar or start a new fitness regime, but were just too tired after coming back from work? This is the best time to begin. The pandemic has cut down a lot on travel time. Earlier hours would be spent just commuting back and forth, but now we have extra time on our hands to devote to ourselves. Here, I would like to quote my example. I have always been an outdoor person, but this pandemic gave me a chance to explore the digital world and I am proud to say that I am more tech – savvy now.
While I understand, everything seems difficult these times and nothing can replace physical intimacy, but try to look for a work-around. Make sure you stay connected to your family and friends. If video calls become too overwhelming, plan to watch a TV show, listen to live music or read a book together. Thanks to the technology, now you can play chess online with your friends or just share your interests online with strangers. The internet has opened up a huge spectrum of opportunities. While it cannot come close to the real thing, these initiatives can always give rise to more shared experiences.
This is also a great time for self – love; start a healthy diet, keep yourself hydrated and catch up on sleep. If you or any of your closed ones are feeling low, try to distract by sharing feelings or indulge in small activities like organizing your room or just playing puzzles. It might seem lonely in the start, but remember to stay at it, and you can soon master the art of ‘not-so-normal’. Let this pandemic be the flames from which you emerge as a transformed self.”
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