CAA/NRC unrest making you anxious? Here’s what therapists have to say

Resilience in resistance: The political turmoil as a fallout of CAA/NRC has increased anxiety in India’s youth. We asked therapists how to take care of your mental health during the strife

Say no to hopelessness, take back power

As a therapist, what worries me is how much hopelessness I see, says Srividya Rajaram. That ‘nothing I do will change anything; things will remain the same.’ Take into account the best that you can do at your personal level. You are part of the demographic that has a voice in the country’s matters and governance, so do not forget that. Even if you can’t bring immediate largescale change, you are generating questions in people’s minds. Which means your actions are not happening in a vacuum.

Ask for help

Many therapists and peer support groups have offered voluntary therapy. Some are even conducting support group workshops. On December 16, after the violence in Jamia Millia Islamia University, Delhi-based mental health activist, Anna, part of Queer Affirmative Counselling Practice group, created a list of therapists who would offer free therapy to those affected. “We felt very disturbed by the whole thing. We couldn’t just watch, we wanted to be involved and contribute in our way. What the students of Jamia, AMU and JNU faced must have left them with massive trauma. So we created a list of people from our group: whoever had the time and ability to volunteer. Eventually, therapists from other cities started connecting with us, saying they would also like to be part of it.” Follow @annaverbee on Twitter, or @shimmiedandstomped on Instagram for the list.

Acknowledge that help comes in different forms

If attending a protest is going to upset you to a point that you are physically sick from anxiety, find other ways to contribute. Maybe you can disseminate information on social media, do fact checks, make posters, or donate to certain groups, or if you are a lawyer, do pro-bono work.

Give credit for all work done

Acknowledge all work done, including your own; everything counts. Skip the judgement, which only makes us fatigued.

Find anchors for hope

Even when 99% of a situation looks bad, look at the 1% that gives you happiness. Maybe it is looking at how the elderly, babies, celebrities, everyone is pitching in. Think about the effort that they are putting in.

Laughter is the best medicine

The interesting posters and artwork that we saw at the protests and online are signs that while one may be upset and angry at what is going on, one is also able to be creative and humorous. Bringing humour to a tragedy makes it more human.

Talk to your support systems

Seek support in different places, if you feel like you don’t find it in your traditional support systems. When it comes to a close family member that has opposing views, recognise that they are not just the sum total of their opinions on a particular matter. Understand their background, their reasoning, but also recognise when you need to keep your distance.

Engage with your feelings

There is bound to be apathy, anxiety and anger among whoever is informed enough about what’s going on. To deal with it would be to engage with your feelings, use them to understand that this is not just about what is happening around you, but how you feel out there. Recognise that any struggle that one participates in will lead to struggle within.

Have pockets of normalcy without feeling guilt

It is important to stay grounded and take time off throughout the day, to have pockets of normalcy, without feeling guilty about it. Recognise that every battle is not ours, and every battle is not for today. This needs all of us to be able to sustain ourselves — it is not a race but a marathon. So we have to allow space for ourselves to breathe, and be kind to ourselves.

Compiled with inputs from psychotherapists Dinika Anand (@dinsbakehouse) and Srividya Rajaram (, both of whom have volunteered therapy for those affected by the unrest.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 2:19:40 AM |

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