Hey thereHope you are holding yourself together. We all are going through a tough time – a time that no-one anticipated as no-one in their living memory has gone through something like this. At my age, going through something like this, makes you cherish life and each moment a bit more. But at your age, its about being locked-down and being devoid of choices.

As I reflected on my time as a young adult, how would I have felt if I had to be at home 24 X 7, with no freedom to go out or meet friends, having the whole family around me all the time and hence taking away my space or privacy, not knowing how and when things would be normal? It does give me the jitters.

Prior to this, many of you have had an active lifestyle taking you out of the house for studies or work or at least having the choice to go out; quite a few of you were staying in hostel/PG that comes with its own sense of independence. Some of you were anxious about the exam yet looking forward to completing college. Some of you had plans charted out for the vacations. And now everything has gone topsy-turvy. Combine that with an already anxious/depressed predisposition (and maybe dysfunctional family relationships) and boom! We have a recipe for disaster – increased anxiety, hopelessness, worry about the future, irritability and boredom and increased fights with parents and/or siblings.

Given all that, it is said – “drastic times call for drastic measures”.  We would all need to be creative and think out-of-the-box to swim through these tough times. Yes, you have anxiety issues. Yes, you have difficulty in initiating activities. I also agree that each task is a bigger chore for you. You are used to have choices, which is not applicable right now. You are used to a certain lifestyle, which parents/family is expecting you to change right now. There is too much to take in, with too little support. Therapy sessions are far and few (if any) and you might just feel stuck. Please remember – I HEAR YOU. These are horrendous times, but remember WE WILL GET OUT OF THEM.

Lets take this crisis to understand our “weak points”; lets appreciate our strengths and put the skills learnt into practice.


Much of what I am going to say is going to sound cliché to you, but please remember I talk from experience and research evidence. And being a neutral person, I primarily come from a place of concern for you. So TAKE ONE DAY AT A TIME and follow these:

1. Sleep Hygiene: It is so tempting to stay awake till late at night; get up late or even sleep during the day. “Been there, done that.” I, myself have stayed awake till 2-3 AM at night – reading or listening to music (mobiles were not there till much later). But in your mental state, doing that will make you more vulnerable to sadness and anxiety.

Many of you may be taking medicines at night. If you take medicines and stay awake for hours after that, it plays havoc with your system. It not only disturbs your circadian rhythms, but also makes your eating schedule go haywire. A combination of these would definitely lead to increased dysphoric emotions, anxiety and irritability.

So do it once or twice in a week. BUT NOT EVERYDAY.  

2. Take a bath (hygiene is very important at this time): You might ask me “WHY”. There is nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to meet – so what’s the point of freshening up? Well, taking a bath and wearing fresh clothes every day (even if they are your pajamas) give you a nice feeling. Summers are setting in and taking a bath will definitely take away laziness and lift your mood.

3. Exercise regularly (at least 20 minutes daily): Yes, I know. Many of you have never exercised. You are young and active, so it didn’t matter. BUT NOW IT DOES. Because your activity level has dropped drastically. Remember all the time you travelled to get to college, or even went from one class to another to the canteen, the energy needed to sit in class. Well – all that’s a goner. So, its important to get exercise. Also, just to reiterate – exercise releases endorphins and not one, but hundreds of research studies have shown that it can alleviate your mood, build your immunity and make you feel better instantly.  

4.Get into a Groove (e.g., studying, office work, etc.): Again, too difficult – always has been. Yet, your school, college, job, etc. ensured that you still follow some routine, at least one some days of the week. Here we are – on a continuous 21-day lockdown with a possibility of extension – there are no deadlines.

However, the habits you develop now will stay for a long time. If you do not study or use this time to finish pending assignments or learn something new – it would be difficult to get back to it when life gets back to normal. Remember that time after summer vacations – how crazy and exhausting is it to fall back into routines.

5. Help in household responsibility: Nothing to do with gender. This is for all of you there. I am sure that in most houses, maids are not coming and therefore all household responsibilities have befallen on the family members. Maybe earlier, your parent (s) never really engaged you in household work as they thought you were studying/working, but now is the time to buckle up and take up that chore. There are a few advantages of doing these:

  1. It ensures that you are not sleeping the whole day
  2. You will not get into spirals of negative thinking
  3. You learn some household work – will come in handy when you are staying alone (e.g., in foreign lands)
  4. It brings some peace between you and parent (s) as they see you as a responsible adult.

Also, I have a simple logic – you want to be treated like adults, take responsibility/behave like adults. Otherwise, you will always be the “kid who is impulsive”.

6. Meditate and think positive (this too shall pass away): I might sound philosophical here. But the point is that thinking in a negative manner is not going to help you anyway. The “stories we tell ourselves” start defining who we are. So if I keep thinking in negative manner, I start believing in it and I start acting accordingly.

For example – “I am an idiot → feeling sad and hopeless → nothing will ever change. What's the point of doing anything → Increased dysphoria  → not doing anything the whole day → oh, one more day wasted, I am such an idiot…”
And “I am an idiot” →Sad and hopeless  → What’s the advantage or disadvantage of thinking in this manner?I am not an idiot, I do mess up on some days and its ok → feel less sad → starting a day in a new manner → Being happy with small achievements.

7. Develop or work on a hobby: Do something different; experiment; learn a new skill. Yes, there would be restrictions like not being able to get ingredients for the new dish; or colors for your painting or no classes to attend. But be creative – do things with what’s available; attend webinars (so many of them are going on); do a course; learn to cook from mom; start a youtube channel; create puzzles and share with groups; do a small research project or survey.

There are so many things that can be done. But we willow in our miseries. The more we would focus inwards and feel like a victim – the more irritable and dysphoric we would be.

8. Manage your Cravings/withdrawals: Some of you are used to nicotine and right now, may be having urges to smoke more (thanks to all the stress) or facing withdrawals due to unavailability. Please remember, we can manage craving. I would soon share resources on the same.

9. Be Grateful: Might sound very cliche and parent-like advice. But it is the truth and believe me, having a sense of gratitude really helps. The very fact that you are sheltered, you do not worry about your next meal and your basic necessities are taken care of can be a comforting feeling. So in gloomy times like these, focus on “WHAT YOU HAVE AND WHAT YOU SHOULD BE THANKFUL FOR” rather than “what is missing from life.” Keep a journal every day for expressing gratitude.

10. “Practice makes the wo(man) Perfect: In our sessions till now, we have discussed some skill sets or coping mechanisms till now. Go back to our session notes and see which skill you can implement and master. A sense of Mastery and Accomplishment can really be an amazing booster to your mood and enhance your self efficacy.

There are no magic wands. People across the world are reporting similar issues. So you are not alone. But I know that together we can tide through this.



Lots of Love

Dr Swati Kedia