By: Dr Vinod Kumar
A lot has been written and said about the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, mental health etc. Majority of these conversations are laden with negative effects. There are silver linings in this storm as well.
As, a mental health professional I have had numerous, in-depth, conversations with my family, friends and clients. I want to highlight some of the positives that are evident in family life, relationships and individuals per se.
Family life, at least, in the urban landscape has benefited in many ways. We were all generally busy and engaged in various pursuits. It was career, jobs and enterprise for the grownups and endless charade of academic activities for the younger ones. It is a curious human phenomenon wherein there is herd mentality and entire populations get influenced and get in a race. More often than not these pursuits are ill-conceived and meaningless in the larger scheme of things. The lockdown period gave us a forced opportunity to take a pause, refresh and reconnect with our loved ones. Families have been forced to spend endless time together and people have begun to realise the value of the same. Spousal relations have been rekindled, parental bonds have been rejuvenated albeit with exceptions of course! Boardgames have been resurrected from the dead. There is a coming together akin to what we grownups have experienced in the ’80s. For the millennials, this has been a first. The value of domestic labour has been redefined. Household chores are equally shared amongst family members and there is a camaraderie that develops when people act together. I had lived in the UK for 14 years before returning to India, I was always unhappy about the due domestic help gets in our country both in terms of financial remuneration and respect they deserve, hopefully, that will change now for the better.
Cooking has acquired a newfound status in the Indian urban households, the interest kindled in the young ones is here to stay.
Thinking about relationships with people outside the immediate family, there are positive developments here too. Aided by technology there has been an exponential growth in virtual gatherings. Friends, colleagues and extended family members have found ways of connecting and maintaining the relationships. There are antakshari groups, housie groups etc., which have brought people together.
Reflecting on the impact this situation has had on individuals including myself, several thoughts come to my mind. One has to always ponder over the question: what is the point of our lives? In my opinion, the quest to answer this question is the very essence of life. In modern times we have been so consumed with materialistic and economic activities, we seldom get the opportunity to truly reflect and attempt to answer the question. This period has given us this opportunity to come off the treadmill and ponder. For me, personally, it has been a wonderful opportunity to experience the peace and quiet due to there being no traffic, I have woken up and gone to bed hearing birds chirping and other sounds of nature. I have had the opportunity to gaze at trees from my balcony and wonder about the sheer beauty and complexity of nature.
Several people have seriously attempted improving their skills in meditation and finding their talents in arts like singing, drawing etc.
It makes me wonder, why shouldn’t life always be like this…
Dr Vinod Kumar is Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist, Head Mpower The Centre – Bengaluru. He has trained extensively in the UK and has qualifications and skills in various psychotherapeutic modalities. He trained and worked in the National Health Service (UK), from 1997 to 2011 on a substantive basis and completed his core training and specialist training in psychiatry leading to gaining MRCPsych and Certificate of completion of specialist training with Royal College of psychiatry endorsement in Liaison Psychiatry and Eating disorders.
Views of the author are personal and do not necessarily represent the website’s views.
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