Health

Aparna Samuel Balasundaram on how to stay resilient through the lockdown

Be kind to your mind

Be kind to your mind   | Photo Credit: Natali_Mis

The main takeaways from a Instagram session with Aparna Samuel Balasundaram, a psychotherapist, teaching associate with Columbia University, author, and TEDx speaker

Through the coronavirus lockdown, there has been hurt, brokenness, and pain. But as human beings, we’re resilient enough to be able to heal, and if we haven’t been hit too badly, to look on the bright side of life. Psychotherapist Aparna Samuel Balasundaram tells us how to be kind to our mind.

Acknowledge that it is hard

Considering we’ve not seen anything like this, the first step to making sense of the loss of health or finances, is to sit with the pain. The next is to tell ourselves that this is not the new normal forever, and that things will change. A good way to do this is to look back at a tough time in life, and see that it did pass, and that we do have the skills to navigate through it.

Shift the perspective to a positive framework

Let’s hit the pause button, zoom out of our lives, and ask ourselves: ‘What are some of the things that I can do today that I wasn’t able to do a while ago?’ For example, ‘I have time to spend with my family’ or ‘I had to battle traffic before, now I don’t’ or ‘I can now cook/garden/exercise’. That’s at a micro level. At a macro level, there are reports on how the earth is cleaning itself – something we are all grateful for.

Watch the video of the #LockdownWithWeekend session with Aparna Samuel Balasundaram on IGTV.

Dig into a took kit

Resilience can be learnt. One of the strategies to building this is mindfulness, so we’re not caught up either rehashing the past or predicting catastrophy for the future. Another tool is gratitude – maintain a gratitude journal for all the things we’re grateful for. The third is going back to our thought processes and re-scripting them. The way we think about something will impact the way we feel, and the way we feel impacts our behaviour (the think-feel-act pattern). So if we re-script a thought to be either neutral or positive, it will impact our behaviour.

Know that there is collective grief

As human beings, we have an innate need to plan, have a routine, control, and the pandemic has taken away all of that. But we can use this as a chance to build on our collective compassion, on changing the way we lived life before and making it more meaningful in the future. Once the pause button is off, we have the privilege of being able to look at life, at ourselves, the world, in a different manner.

Aparna Samuel Balasundaram

Aparna Samuel Balasundaram  

Accept that our past does impact our present

Current stress may trigger a response that we’ve had in the past. So if we’ve had anxiety, for instance, the script for our self-talk may be a magnified response today. But we also know that we have built the tools to manage and walk out of it. We could tap into that aspect and remind ourselves that we do have control. However, if we feel the need to reach out for professional help, this is the time to do so, and look at it as a sign of strength, rather than a sign of weakness.

See how stress manifests in physical ways

If we feel helpless and have negative thoughts on a consistent basis – over 10 days to two weeks; if we feel like crying and things that gave us joy before don’t any more; if sleep and food patterns (binge eating or drinking) are impacted, seek professional help.

Take care

Self-care is anything that enriches us and brings us joy and rejuvenates us – it could be gardening, cooking, meditation. These are especially important for those on the front line helping other people through this trying time – doctors, nurses, government officials. For those of us who aren’t, let us support and reach out to those who are – over a call, a text, or even a shout-out on social media.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 10:34:04 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/aparna-samuel-balasundaram-on-how-to-stay-resilient-through-the-lockdown-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-pandemic/article31648137.ece

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