Different Stories Walking Around

Picture Credits: The New York Times

So I was sitting on a bench. Weather was a bit gloomy. It was cold. Not too cold to shiver or anything. Surrounding was clean- actually very clean. I was breathing fresh air. Everything around me felt fresh and pure. Buildings were distant but I was simply appreciating their beauty. Then I turned my attention to ‘people’ walking around. Or should I say ‘different stories’ walking around.

Observation can be quite interesting. My simple observation made me think I wasn’t only looking at people rather I was looking at “unique stories”. Every person who was walking by me or was walking a little faraway from me is a story. Different backgrounds, different languages, different opinions, different educational degrees, different experiences facilitated the birth of different stories. You don’t know what is going on in their minds. You don’t know what they are thinking in that exact moment. For you they are simply people. But when you think about it they are all stories. Stories we are completely unaware of yet leave no opportunity in passing judgements.

Everyone is trying to make a dent in this huge complex world. Everyone wants to feel like they belong in this world which makes sense because no one should have to feel otherwise. Be kind to each other. Be humble. Be simply a good human being. You just might help re-write someone’s story for good.

Not Every Doctor is a Money Making Machine

Picture credits: The Hindu Business Line

I do not know what generalisations prevail in other countries regarding medical doctors’ income but I can surely speak for my country. In India, it is a common held belief that ‘doctors are a big time money making machines’ They charge hefty fee and are very rich people. There is a certain amount of truth to that. Why? Because in every country there are certain professions that allow one to earn pretty decent amount of money. People belonging to certain professions never seem to go out of business. Medicine is one such profession. That’s how things are. And we cannot change them.

Ever since I have grown up enough to make sense of the world I have come to realise that every medical doctor in India is labelled as a “money making machine”. Consultation fee are all time high. Unnecessary tests are advised. Commissions are set. Big houses at different places. Multiple bank accounts in different banks. And the list goes on….It is true that medical doctors are ‘becoming’ businessmen. To them patients are not a priority. They don’t care much if their patient is going to get well after seeking the treatment. Such doctors do no justice to their profession. They act against their oath. And it is pretty sad.

However, generalisation is bad especially in this case. Generalisation is one of the cognitive distortions humans are pre-wired with. So it is natural to say that ‘every medical doctor is like a robber: snatching away people’s hard earned money’. We look at someone and then go on generalising. I think it’s time we take a moment and debunk this generalisation. Why? Because there are so many doctors out there not just in India but all over the world who care a great deal about their patients. They have a duty to cure people and they do it full honesty. Money is important to them as no life can sustain without money. They want their spouses, children, parents, relatives and friends to have a good life. But never at the cost of going against their oath. It is okay for such doctors to have no social life but totally unacceptable to see their patients suffer at 11 PM. They don’t want their patients to suffer because of the money and so they charge what even the poorest can afford. It is okay for them to not upgrade an old car. A car or other material stuff stands nowhere near the satisfaction a doctor gets after seeing his/her patients get all well. Imagine how bad it feels to these saint doctors when they are also labelled as ‘scavengers’. They spend their whole lives living to a bare minimum and yet they are perceived as the richest people on the planet.

People feel absolutely no guilt spending 2000 rupees in fancy restaurants eating foods that are killing their bodies or even getting a Netflix and Spotify subscription. But come about complaining when a doctor charges 500 rupees as a consultation fee. What is wrong with asking what one deserves? Doctors spend so many good years of their lives studying so they are skilled enough to cure people. Why can’t people just see all the hard work they have put in for years and years? But all eyes are on “CONSULTATION FEE: Rs 500”. I am not saying you should cancel your Netflix subscription or stop eating food in restaurants. It is your money and you can do whatever will make you happy. But attacking doctors all the time on the grounds of fee and other things does not reflect one’s goodness.

The world has changed a lot. Money is taking over people’s love for each other. People are forgetting about their duties and responsibilities. In the midst of all this darkness, there are many people who are keeping the light on. And that light is a sign that humanity is still alive.

“Read More. Read More.” Stop making a big deal out of Reading.

Picture credits: WeAreTeachers

 

I am pretty sure as soon as you open YouTube or any other platform filled with information, you come across headlines such as:

“Read More.”

“Why you should read more?”

“What I learned after reading 1 book a week.”

“Why reading more and more will make you successful?”

I cannot tell you how irritating I find such headlines. I am not against reading. To be honest I, myself is an avid reader. I love books. Literally, I just love books. Other than a paper and pen if there is something in this world (material) I cannot live without its none other than a book. I read every day. I have been reading everyday for the past one year (I believe I have missed approximately 20-25 days out of 365 days). Reading has become a part of my daily schedule. Just the way I don’t live my days without water I don’t let my days pass by without reading. It doesn’t matter how much time I give to reading as long as I am reading. Some days I read for an hour. Some days I read for 15 minutes.

Reading is very personal to me. I don’t read to impress others. I don’t even post anything on social media. I read because I love knowing about different things. I read because I am a very curious person. I read because it opens up my mind about variety of stuff. To put more simply, I read because I want to attain knowledge which I can then apply to attain wisdom.

It makes me sad how people are making a big deal out of reading books. They are putting blogs and videos on reading more and more or reading 1 book a week. I respect that they are promoting reading because it’s a habit worth cultivating. But now it seems like reading has become so over-hyped. We should read books for ourselves and not others. It is completely okay if you are unable to read a book in 7 days. It is also okay if you complete a book in 2 months as long as you’re finding it interesting enough to keep going. I don’t know how reading makes one successful because success is a very subjective concept. Success has a different definition for everyone. For some, a successful life comprises of good health- both physical & mental, a loving family and friends. For others success might mean driving luxurious cars and having multiple properties at different locations.

Reading books has become very convenient, cheaper and easily accessible. Unlike older times, we have multiple ways to gather information from books. Some people find audiobooks the best. While others prefer having a book in a physical format. It is a good thing that so many people are prioritising books in their lives. Because without a seed of doubt reading makes us better. However, it should be for genuine reasons. Do not read so that you can post about it on social media. Do not read just because everyone is reading. You should read so that you become a better version of yourself each day.

 

Be like Water

Picture credits: Alabama Co-opertaive Extension System

"Be like water making its way through cracks. Do not be assertive, but adjust to the object, and you shall find a way around or through it. If nothing within you stays rigid, outward things will disclose themselves. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend."

– Bruce Lee

Majority of us fall victim to thinking in fixed and certain ways. Just because something worked out for us once we believe that’s how it’s always supposed to be. Were we loved enough at our homes by our parents and siblings? That’s good to know. Were we loved enough by our friends and teachers at school? That’s good too. However, as we get older and start getting reality checks we understand that rigidity is not always a good thing. Flexibility is. Becoming like water is seriously a challenge but the challenge is totally worth it. Bruce Lee is telling us to be like water because people who become like water can make it through any hardest possible obstacles. 

Lao Tzu once said, “Water is the softest and most yielding substance. Yet nothing is better than water, for overcoming the hard and rigid, because nothing can compete with it.” If you observe water carefully you will see that it’s nature is very resilient. It’s resilient to changes. Just the way Bruce Lee said if you put water in a glass it becomes the glass but when you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Life is always going to keep throwing trash at us. That’s a harsh reality. Becoming resilient like water can prevent us from feeling victimised. We must keep moving forward taking different shapes and sizes because that’s the best shot we have at facing tough times. The pandemic is a great example of a need to build resilience and flexibility during harsh times. We did not expect something like this to happen. We only used to study it in our history books. Unfortunately, the written text has become a reality because history has been repeated. Lives are not the same anymore. We are unable to meet people in person the way we used to do pre-pandemic. Colleges and schools have opted for either online learning or hybrid learning. We have to work not in our offices but homes. On top of that work from home is another big deal for majority of people (as it has its own pitfalls). Is this in our control? Absolutely not. No matter how challenging everything has become we can learn one fundamental lesson from water: to stay flexible and adjust to the circumstances outside our control. 

Water isn’t merely about flexibility it’s also about softness. We think softness is a bad thing. People who are soft and not robust from the inside are weak but that’s not true. Water is soft but it has got tremendous power. If it has to it can cause huge destruction (as we all see in hurricanes, floods). Many times ‘strength’ or I should say ‘forceful strength’ doesn’t get us anywhere. It’s total waste of energy. In those moments being soft can make things possible for us. It might take some time. It’d be like taking ‘baby steps’. But things will happen. Do you think working 18 hours a day will finally make things happier in your personal life? No. It will not. You’re just exhausting yourself. You’re exhausting yourself both physically and mentally. You think forcing yourself to work for the insane amount of hours will make your life perfect. Actually your life is far from perfect. Look at water. Touch it. What do you feel? SOFTNESS. Maybe you will realise that your long term goals can be achieved with having a tranquil mind and one day at a time approach. Your softness will become your superpower. 

Most Important Lessons I have learned so far during the pandemic

Picture credits: Roffey Park Institute

Every event in our lives teaches us something. If you believe it doesn’t then I’d suggest you take a look at any event of your life again: this time more carefully. I am pretty sure you’re going to see it yourself that you had some learning. It’s impossible to believe that the pandemic is not teaching us anything. There is so much learning each day and remembering and not forgetting those lessons ever may help shape our lives for the better.

Personally, I have learned a lot of things in the past one year. While I was grateful of my life during this time, nonetheless it wasn’t an easy year. Actually it wasn’t easy for anyone. In spite of everything I have had a few realisations and I’d like to share some of them with you.

You’re always hanging by a thread

What I am about to say is going to sound cliche but it’s the harsh reality of a human life: life is very short. You can put your 100% energy into predicting the future still you will fail. You will fail badly. Everybody is hanging by a fine thread. If the thread breaks up it simply means that you are alive no more. What may sound scary is that you can never know when your own thread is going to break. One day you’re like ‘life is a bed of roses’ and another day your worst nightmares have come true. I don’t mean to make you feel depressed. My purpose is to bring it to your attention that don’t disrespect life. Don’t treat it like garbage. Value it. Bad things do happen. Sometimes the worst possible things but such events are supposed to make you stronger and not ridicule at life itself.

Never stop fighting for your/loved ones life

When we are at a very dark place it is natural to start losing hope. Giving up seems like the only option. I am not perfect. Even I tend to start losing hope sometimes when nothing is in my favour. In those moments only our resilience and bravery is tested. If we try our best to maintain our demeanour we can think clearly. When we think clearly we stop focusing on what has happened to us and start focusing on what we can do now. Options, which we thought earlier we had none, become very much visible. I believe it is about intention. A good intention make things possible while no intention does nothing good to us. No matter what you’re going through in your life never stop fighting for your life and the life of your loved ones.

Your focus must be on what you control

There are two kinds of things in this world: the things we control and the things we don’t control. Humans want to control everything. They often believe that they have a control over everything and that’s why their lives become miserable. Some people have a good sense of what they control and what they don’t. Such people have a much better life than those who focus way too much on the things beyond their control. I know it sounds easier than done because while I understand the fact intellectually it is hard for me sometimes to act upon it. Nevertheless, it is never too late. The next time you are in an adverse situation ask yourself one simple question, “What I can change and what I cannot?” I am sure you’ll be having enough clarity to make a better decision.

Each day is a gift

We have a tendency towards believing that life is short but not too short. We have a lot of time. There’s no need of hurry. Indeed, that’s the reason we fail to celebrate each day. The pandemic has shown me very clearly that in no time you can lose anyone. One day you’re talking and laughing with someone and the next day that person is gone forever. It can give you the chills if you think about it deep enough. Therefore, be grateful every single day. Try to look at each day as if it were your last. By saying this I don’t mean you start living in a fantasy world where nothing is broken. You shouldn’t stop feeling all the negative emotions. But every day remind yourself: how would you want to live your life today if this was your last day?

Impermanence is a reality

Everything is transitory. I am sure you have heard it many times. Accept it. Accept the fact that your life, the life of your closed ones, your possessions and your achievements are all temporary. None of them is going to stay with you till eternity. Focus your attention, time and energy into the things that matter: a purposeful life, good deeds and spreading love all around.

Under the Microscope: People with a Psychology degree- What I have found and why I feel enraged?

Picture credits: PNGWing

I have an under-graduate degree in economics. Quite honestly, I don’t remember what I studied and don’t like economics anymore. There are many reasons and I don’t want to bore you right away. So, maybe some other time. Back to where I was, I don’t like economics anymore. Right now I call myself a ‘psychology student’ because I am a psychology student. Over the past 4 years I have been around people who either have a psych background or are striving for what I am striving for. I have made certain observations about these people and they make me feel enraged. I know you’re going to stick it to my face that I have anger issues and must start meditating or even join an anger management class. Trust me, I am not angry in a bad way. I feel enraged but laugh at the same time because I find it funny.

I believe you can have any degree in the world and yet your life will remain the same (obviously, not true for everyone). I am specifically talking about people with degrees in medical science, psychology, physics, chemistry, etc. People with the above mentioned backgrounds should do everything in their power to stop being illogical and unscientific. When I encounter illogical and unscientific ideas I feel sad and my sadness elevates when those ideas come from people who claim themselves to be ‘potential psychologists’ or ‘medical doctors’. Based on what I have been seeing over the past few years, my observations are as follows:

Science is not everyone’s cup of tea

I could not stress upon it enough. Ever since I have started making sense of the things around me I have found that majority of the people with a medical degree, engineering degree, physics and chemistry degree and psychology degree are merely degree holders. Their education in these subjects did not change them at all. Such people call themselves medical doctors, psychologists, physicists, etc. and still their mind has only expanded professionally and not personally. They don’t know how to challenge the narratives they have been exposed with since childhood. Would you believe me if I told you that I have met psychology students who believe exorcism can cure schizophrenia? Would you believe me if I told you that I know people with a modern medicine degree who think homeopathy is not a pseudo-science? Would you also believe me if I told you that I know a lot of people who don’t believe in evolution?

Trust me, science is not everyone’s cup of tea.

Psychology is ‘interesting’ to everyone. Yet not everyone can grasp it intellectually

When I opted psychology for my graduate studies and told people about it (when they asked me) I believe 9 out of 10 people said they like psychology as it’s very ‘interesting’. I am not trying to insult anyone but those people had no idea what psychology as a subject actually means. It’s true that psychology is quite interesting but grasping it intellectually is not an easy job. Pick an academic paper in psychology and start reading it. I am sure you will stop finding it interesting. The subject of psychology is intellectually challenging and if you don’t agree with me then you’re studying the ‘real’ psychology.

You can study ‘abnormal psychology’ and then go around talking superstitious stuff

I remember I was in a psychopathology/abnormal psychology class and the topic of discussion was schizophrenia. One thing led to another and very soon my classmates started talking about their long held superstitious beliefs without even considering for a minute if that was making any sense. Things started becoming more interesting when paranoid schizophrenia was being explained using superstitions and utter nonsense. I am sorry to say this but they didn’t deserve to sit in an abnormal psychology class. Such people don’t deserve to pick up psychology subject at all.

Psychology isn’t limited to helping people get back on track in their lives

When my friends used to ask me what I am doing, I used to say that I am studying psychology and will pursue my career in this field. Immediately many of them used to pose another question and ask me, “Are you going to be a doctor of mad people?” I wanted to explain things to them and to a certain level I did but after some time I stopped. Because nothing could change their fixed ideas. So, I want to make things clear: psychology is much more than clinical psychology. Psychology is like an ocean and there are many sub-fields. It’s embodied in economics, anthropology, political science, business and many more. I would encourage people to do some research first and then ask such questions.

Psychology isn’t telepathy

A lot of people ask psychology students “Tell me what I am thinking right now?” I mean seriously? Psychology students/professionals of the field are not telepaths. If you don’t know your own self in the first place how can you expect another person to do it for you? Psychology is indeed about behaviour and mental processes. The focus group of the subject is none other than humans. But the training is not given to become mind readers. Training is given to study behaviours and mental processes scientifically and not randomly.

A single question that is helping me change my perspective

Picture credits: freepik

It’s a human tendency to take life for granted. I know this and you know it too. But why do we do it? Why do we take our family, friends, health, etc for granted? Why do we often miss out on acting in much better ways even though we ‘know’ nothing lasts forever?

Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, essayist, logician and a social critic aptly said once, “In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted.” Quite honestly, I haven’t make a list of all the things I take for granted in my life (probably it’s LIFE in general that I sometimes take for granted just like any other person) but I have come to a realisation that yes, indeed we don’t value our lives the way we should. I believe the pandemic is teaching us a lot in this domain.

Coming back to the question of why we take things in life for granted, psychology has some answers. Human beings are naturally inclined to ‘novelty’. It’s in our evolutionary history. Life, relationships, health seems like permanent. We think they have been there for a very long time and will stay with us for ‘always’. All this doesn’t feel novel or new so we don’t pay much attention. Until something big happens. The pandemic is giving us many examples. We are seeing with our own eyes that a single hour is enough to change our or the lives of our loved ones completely and forever. For many the wounds are never going to heal but others will forget everything and continue living their lives the way they had been living prior to the pandemic.

Isn’t it the perfect time to change that? After all, the losses are irreversible.

Only a couple days back I was pondering upon the same thought and something crossed my mind. It was nothing but a simple, single question. I have lost a very close relative to COVID-19. While reflecting back upon my own life I reminded myself how lucky I am. Quite frankly, I am very grateful of my life each day. Trying to keep myself in my cousin’s shoes I asked myself a question:

“HOW MUCH WOULD YOUR COUSIN BE WILLING TO PAY JUST TO HAVE A 5 MINUTE CONVERSATION WITH THE PERSON SHE HAS LOST?”

Without a doubt: A LOT!! Yes, my cousin would be willing to pay a lot. The cost will be very very high. Doesn’t that change your perspective, even a little bit? It changed mine. That question strikes me hard enough to pause for a moment and think things over again. Now, I am not saying I have become all perfect and will never take people in my life for granted. I am a human after all. I am conditioned to make mistakes. Nevertheless, I am going to try to never stop asking myself that question. It will keep me in check, I am sure.

This too shall pass

Picture credits: Pure Source Recruitment

I know I am not the only one who has been hit psychologically by the pandemic especially the second wave in India. I also know well enough that there are people who are going through the worst time of their lives. Either their own lives are in danger or the lives of their loved ones. People who are not getting infected with the COVID-19 virus are surely getting infected with anxiety or depression. Psychological disturbance during the pandemic in itself a big deal because it paralyses you and actually makes you sick.

If you open Google search and start typing ‘how to deal with anxiety‘, you will find infinite amount of information. Some will suggest you to exercise meditation (mindfulness meditation or simply deep breathing exercises), some will suggest to take care of your body by exercising and consuming a healthy diet. Journalling will also come up, I am sure. These are all evidence based suggestions and people suffering from anxiety these days can introduce them in their daily routine. While the above mentioned suggestions are helpful in easing anxiety levels I am quite sure you, me and everyone is wondering:

WHEN IT IS GOING TO END?

Quite honestly, it’s a difficult question with answers people will not enjoy listening to. Based on my limited knowledge, I believe the pandemic is going to go away when approximately 70-80% of the world’s population is vaccinated. Until then, the waves are going to come and go and come and go….In spite of that, we should not forget how far we have come. Thanks to science and those scientists who managed to come up with vaccines so soon.

Everyone wants the pandemic to end. While pondering upon this thought I was reminded of a Persian adage:THIS TOO SHALL PASS.” Yes, it will pass. The pandemic will pass. Human lives are going to get back to normality. We are going to have days when we don’t have to wear masks and maintain social distancing (physical distancing not emotional distancing). Obviously, we are not going to forget these times. They are going to stay with us as long as we are alive. But remember, THIS TOO SHALL PASS….

THIS TOO SHALL PASS is another way of thinking that nothing in life stays forever. Buddhism revolves around the idea of impermanence: everything is transitory and nothing is permanent. Whatever it is- your feelings, moments, lives , it’s changing all the time.

  • People who are with you right now are not going to be there till eternity.
  • You are not going to be there forever either.
  • Your circumstances are going to change and they won’t remain constant.
  • Your feelings are going to get replaced with other feelings (good for bad and bad for good).

In the same way, this pandemic is not going to stay forever because it shall pass. We may feel right now that this black cloud is going nowhere. But it will pass. It, too, shall pass. Trust me, the lesson of impermanence hasn’t been digested by me completely. I am still learning. But I am glad I have started walking down this path.

We are going through some of the most difficult times right now. Stay wise and please act wisely.

A deadly second wave is here. Make sure you take care of your Mental health too.

Picture credits: NDTV.com

On April 18, 2021 India had a record number of cases and deaths: 2.75 lakhs and 1,620 respectively. It’s something very very serious. People are standing in long queues to get themselves tested for the infection. Healthcare system has collapsed completely that not enough beds and oxygen cylinders are available for COVID-19 patients. People are dying. What could be more worse than that?

While the second wave in India is affecting our physiology we should not forget that it’s also taking a huge toll on our mental health as well. Everyone is stressed. Some wise minds have fear too of contracting the virus. People are very much worried. Quite honestly, stress, fear and worry during these unprecedented times is very common. When situations arise unexpectedly and there is uncertainty around us it’s ordinary to lose grip over our mental well-being. What’s important to know is that we should not let ourselves not prioritise our psychological well-being. While the pandemic is not under our control (although we could have been more careful since the beginning) what’s under our control is how we keep ourselves and our families safe. Moreover, taking good care of our mental health is also under our control.

The worst part is that the pandemic may subside (hard to be exact which year) but the way it’s deteriorating people’s mental health is very concerning. “I don’t think this is going to go back to baseline anytime soon,” says clinical psychologist Luana Marques, at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. Luana Marques is constantly monitoring the mental-health impacts of the crisis in US populations and elsewhere. According to a survey conducted by US Census Bureau it was found that more than 42% of people reported having symptoms of anxiety or depression in December 2020. The number has increased significantly from 11% between January-June 2019. The times are difficult and alarming. Things aren’t very rosy in India as well. The second wave is so deadly that many people (including me) are facing anxiety on a regular basis.

An important question comes up: how to preserve our mental health?

  1. Make time for the activities you enjoy: Some people like to write while others enjoy cooking, reading, watching movies & tv series, etc. Everyone has different activities they enjoy engaging in. Find out what interests you and make time each day for it. It helps take the mind off the pandemic situation.
  2. Talk to people (virtually): The pandemic has made us all feel isolated and lonely. We are unable to meet our friends and relatives. Thanks to technology we have an alternative (although not a permanent one). Talk to your loved ones- call them, Skype them, whatever’s possible. Talk about what you’re feeling. Listen to what they have to say.
  3. Meditate and exercise: It cannot be stressed enough that meditation improves not just our physical health but mental health as well. People who meditate have stronger neural connections which allows for more synchronised communication. Meditating for 5-10 minutes in a day is enough if you’re a beginner. Exercise also have many benefits and make sure you add it to your daily routine.
  4. Eat healthy food: While it is common to gorge on unhealthy food items during times like these, we should not forget to take a healthy and balanced diet. Reduce carbohydrates and sugar in your diet. Add healthy fats. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. There are evidences from scientific studies that diet does play an important role in regulating our mood.
  5. Prioritise your sleep: We often lose our sleep during crises. Having trouble falling asleep or having nightmares becomes common. Make sure to go to bed at a fixed time. Keep your bedroom quiet, dark with a temperature that is not too hot or too cold. Don’t consume caffeine or alchohol before bedtime.
  6. Don’t forget to take breaks from news stories: Consuming news stories constantly all day can definitely create a lot of stress. That is why it’s crucial to take occasional breaks from news stories (on television, social media, etc). It’s fine to keep yourself updated but that shouldn’t mean you let it affect you psychologically. Set a time and frequency for watching the news updates. By doing that you will protect yourself from the stressors.

Routine is saving me from having a mental health crisis

Picture credits: The Spruce

When we hear the word ‘routine’ we almost always have an immediate response:

“Routine? That sounds so boring.”

A year ago, I would have agreed with those ‘five words’. But today I won’t. Well, I have my reasons and the most important one is that routine saved me from having a mental health crisis. 

The COVID-19 pandemic is something we have never experienced before. Things are definitely going to get better and normal very soon (they already are). We must not forget all the lessons this pandemic has taught/teaching us because it’s something we might face again in the future if we don’t correct our mistakes now. Overall, it can be said that our lives have changed forever. So many people have lost their lives. So many people contracted the virus and suffered (so many still are because remember the pandemic isn’t over yet). So many people are going through mental illnesses including clinical depression, anxiety disorders, etc. In such unprecedented times it is quite okay to feel mentally exhausting. During the pandemic, researchers at the University of Glasgow conducted a study to examine the effects of COVID-19 pandemic in the mental well-being of people living in the UK. The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. What was found is that the suicidal thoughts increased from 8% to 10% and it was the highest among young adults (18-29 years). Researchers agreed that the percentage increase might look like a small number but it is a concern because it happened during a short period of time. 

During times like these it is more important than ever to have a routine. It’s not a guarantee that everything is going to be perfectly okay but it does help a lot when there is so much uncertainty around us. Routine gives us something to look forward to everyday and it does give a structure to our days. 

YOUR DAYS ARE STRUCTURED:

As mentioned above, routines help give structure to our days. When we know we have to wake up, eat food, do our most important tasks at a particular time in a day we are guiding our days and not the other way around. There is an agenda and we look forward to completing those agendas when we have a routine. There is more focus and our brains don’t wander much because it knows well enough all that it is supposed to concentrate on. Decide what time you will wake up and stick to it. Decide what time you will go to bed and stick to it. Have a set time for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Structure your days. Have some daily routines because your brain will thank you for that.

LOWER STRESS AND ANXIETY LEVELS:

When days are not planned it becomes natural to get caught on everything that comes our way. This results in more stress and anxiety levels. However, by having a routine we learn what to focus on and at what time. We start training ourselves to focus on what’s right in front of us and let the insignificant things stay what they are. We feel more in control. We feel less stressed and don’t get anxious so easily. Routines act like an anchor of predictability. Dr Steve Orma, a Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Clinical Psychologist works with patients suffering from anxiety, insomnia and stress. He says, “Routine helps with stress. Create a set schedule for doing chores, work tasks, meetings, exercise, paying bills, and all the usual things you need to do. Put these into your schedule. Once this becomes your normal routine, it’s easier to accomplish everything, because it becomes habit.” Remember, what gets scheduled gets done. 

YOU ARE MORE CREATIVE AND PRODUCTIVE:

Every creative genius had a secret: a daily routine. I know this wasn’t a secret you were expecting but it’s the truth. Routines helped these geniuses bring out their creativity and be productive. Below image is the daily routine of Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States. 

Picture credits: The Focus Course

It’s quite true that Ben Franklin did not follow his routine 100% every day. It’s not possible. There is so much that comes up unexpectedly because of which sticking to a routine every single day becomes rather impossible. Nevertheless, he was a very productive person because he followed his daily routines as much as he could. Routines help us stay on top of our game just like it helped people like Beethoven and Freud. We are less distracted and start prioritising things in our lives. And people who know what to prioritize can be nothing but creative and productive. 

BETTER MENTAL HEALTH:

Having a good mental health is so important right now. Nothing is of any significance if there is mental turbulence all the time. When the world has become isolated and we have somewhat lost chances to meet our loved ones in person it is natural to feel mentally unstable from time to time. This is where routine comes in to rescue us. If there is anything I am 100% certain of it’s the fact that without having a routine almost every single day I would have lost my demeanour. Routine kept me in check. It made me realise that I could control some of the things in my day. This eventually helped me having a relatively better mental health. 

Don’t be very hard on yourself when it comes to building a routine. It takes time. Forming habits take time. Some days you are going to be very productive while the other days it will hard for you to keep up with your routine. And that’s okay. Life happens. Try again the other day. Just because you have stumbled once doesn’t mean you have to stop trying. Prioritise your mental well-being. There is so much that depends on it.