2020 was not a good year, because its beginning was scarred by the origins, and then the spread, of COVID-19.
While for many it proved as a time of relaxation and a long-craved break from their hectic lives, for others it proved as a carrier of even more worries, troubles, and financial constraints. For however different reasons, though, it was - and unfortunately continues to be - a time of tension and anxiety, which has further smoothed the path to mental illnesses.
For those who craved the break, the Lockdown period seemed to be stretching on and on, and while the break they dreamed of was supposed to be filled with fun, entertainment, and meeting long-lost friends and family, all it turned out to be was days of idleness, with no outings and nothing to do inside the home, because, after all, they were used to an outdoors busy life, had never expected such a drastic turn of events, and hence weren’t prepared for it. As a matter of fact, staying indoors of such a group of people for a seemingly infinite period of time almost inadvertently leads to scuffles and skirmishes inside the house.
Additionally, these people are more likely to be haunted by their internal fears, insecurities, and untapped emotions - all of course, because a free mind wanders very far. Thus, overthinking led to anxiety, which led to low self-esteem, which led to overthinking and over-consciousness, which led to sleepless nights, which led to tired mornings, which led to persistent tiredness, which led to agitation, frustration, and impatience, leading to fights, leading to an urgent desire to leave the home, which wasn’t possible. And the cycle repeats.
There were also some people whose families were not stable in the first place, and when Lockdown pushed them all in in the same place for whole days, all it led to was an increase to the already occurring domestic violence, mental torture, and huge fights.
For the other group of people, the reasons, of course, are very obvious. These people who used to eat from their daily earnings, were now deprived of the very basic necessity of life. They spent their days searching for food to fill primarily their kids’ bellies, or for an opportunity to earn money. Hopelessness and helplessness led to the increasing number of reports of suicides, together with the killing of their own families. Depression was already prevalent in these groups, I suspect – only underreported - what more could be said about them…
While this seems to be quite a bleak perspective, we may have emerged from it with increased awareness about issues like mental health and domestic violence - that have long been underestimated in many, especially Pakistani, societies. We may have emerged from it with a better understanding of ourselves and the coping mechanisms that suit us. We may have emerged from it with better relations with family, with more tolerance, more compassion, more compatibility, and a greater sense of community. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder - in this case, the absence of people, the absence of luxuries, and the absence of a life that we were so used to living and took so much for granted.
It's been 2 years now, and we still can't truly claim that we have overcome the drastic effects.
Here are a few things we can do about it:
- Trying to take out time - even if only 15 minutes - for the things we enjoy doing, and do them for no other sake than the joy they bring to us.
- Valuing our time by stopping to pause, contemplating over what we are headed to do, and weighing whether the outcome will be worth the effort.
- Living a purposeful life by clearly defining our goals and the things that matter.
- Valuing the relationships we have by spending great time with them and making the efforts to keep them strong
- Living in the momen