26 March, 2020

#RTWrites :: How to Remain Hopeful (And Creative) In Times of Covid-19 - @RT_Writes



March 2020 has been hard for me. It began with a bang, like all of the year before it – with lots of exciting travel and personal and professional triumphs. Then, on March 10 India entered quarantine and we all started reeling, bit by bit.

First an all-girls trip to Phuket got cancelled.

Then, it became worse when I lost a family member and couldn’t attend their funeral. Couldn’t say goodbye properly because unnecessary travel was curbed.

I will take that loss for all of my life because my uncle believed in me and supported me unabashedly. I dedicate all my words to him from here on out.

This loss, combined with the enforced isolation, has left me reeling. It does not help that every time I open any social media app, we are all talking about exactly ONE thing. I don’t blame us. In times such as these, talking helps.


Sharing helps, knowing someone else feels what you’re feeling (and we are ALL feeling it) helps.

But, and this is what I tell myself every day as I struggle with balancing work and chores and checking in on friends and family – THERE IS HOPE. WE ARE ENOUGH TO COMBAT THIS.

So, in this post I’d simply like to talk a little about what I, myself, am doing to remain hopeful and creative in this testing time.

Feel everything. It’s impossible to not get a little jolt every time I check a news website for an update. Impossible to shut out the implications of how the quarantine, the virus, this newly enforced lockdown is going to change everything. And so I allow myself to feel everything – the panic, the terror and grief and joy and happiness and chuckling at truly bad memes.

Mostly, I feel grateful that my whole family and immediate friend circle is safe so far including the one cousin who is currently serving at a Gurudwara in Malaysia while waiting to come home. It’s important to acknowledge privilege and help the staff who work for us – cook, maid, drivers as well as building security. Helping them is helping ourselves at this point, peeps!


Organize your life. So over the last week I’ve spent a lot of time organizing my closet, my papers and my work area. From being a slob to being super organized has really changed the way I look at tasks and what I am really capable of.


Make art. If you follow my Instagram, you’ll know I am an amateur crafter. And it’s been fun trying to create beauty with whatever supplies I have at hand. I have made two night lights with ice-cream sticks, a pad dispenser, and decorated a table with fairy lights. Art also really gets my creative juices flowing and allows my brain to operate at an alpha state where the best ideas for projects come from.

Drink water. Water is AWESOME. Drink a glass of water, right now. Just do it. It calms and refreshes in a way nothing else on earth can.

Breathe. Breathing exercises really help, you guys. Just checking in with our body and giving it adequate oxygen clears the mind of immediate panic and makes it easy to do the next step in my to-do list.

Make lists! On top of daily lists, I have an epic lockdown goal list (that I’m not sharing yet because I want it done first!). Write down all the impossible, stretch goals and dreams – personal and professional – that you set out for someday. SOMEDAY is here, peeps. We have twenty one days of somedays to double down and do the work that would possibly take us months or years to do!


Learn discipline. This is also a GREAT time to learn discipline in those areas of life where it lacks. For me, it’s writing on demand. To unstick my writer’s block – ask all the tough questions to myself that will make the story flow again and just get the pages done. Discipline is doing the same task every day, over and over again, without expectation of result. To make it into habit and then hone that habit into a skill. And you cannot have too many skills, peeps!

Stick to a daily routine. Work from home requires a special kind of routine. It has to be rigid enough to finish all your tasks while factoring in breaks for exercise, food, exercise and fun times. I use the FOREST app which gives me twenty-five minutes to finish a single task (without checking my phone) and grows a tree when I do it. Looking at my green babies gives me a sense of accomplishment. And personally I thrive on it.


Spending time with kids and for them. For those WFH’ers who also have children, check out this amazing resource by a dear friend for screen-less activities for your children. Also, this is an excellent time to introduce your babies to the wonders of books. Tinkle, Amar Chithra Katha, Tintin, Calvin and Hobbes and more are offering their entire catalogs for free! Now’s the time to grab those comics and live in simpler and more profound stories. If all else fails, there is always video games (hopefully non-violent) to keep them occupied while you finish work.


Limit media consumption. Yeah, yeah I know. This is a most-impossible task what with WhatsApp, Instagram, news websites, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and more giving us nanosecond updates if we so wish for it because knowledge is power. Yesterday morning, I shut off phone notifications to everything and turned off the Google Alert update for Covid-19 update. And, today, my anxiety has calmed way the fuck down.


Read up on what’s important. It’s stupid to bury my head in the sand so I am now limiting my news sources to the official Twitter handle of my State – CMO Maharashtra – Faye D’Souza’s Insta account and a few other trusted friends who are offering a list of measures and resources. Reading up on the CDC website and WHO updates is a good idea if you need accurate and factual information.

Faith works. Whatever is between you and your God is yours alone. And having faith is important in a time where the world is going to literal hell in a hand basket. While banging utensils and chanting mantras aren’t necessarily going to rid the world of the virus, faith is centering. It is calming. It does give peace which allows us to do the next thing that needs to be done.

Above all, it is important to acknowledge that I am human. There are moments when I am just like blank. I don’t know if this is my former anxiety kicking in or my cursed writer’s imagination that takes off to terrible places from reading too much dystopian fiction. Either way, I know its okay. Its okay to not be okay and that one day this too shall pass.

It will pass like a kidney stone but it shall pass.

And it is my favorite wizard on the planet who said it best. Gandalf Greyhame, Mithrandir, Rider of Shadowfax and the most powerful member of the Fellowship of the Ring!


Let me know what you guys are doing to remain hopeful and productive at this time? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Xx

Writer Gal