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Lockdown Life Lessons: 10 Things The Experience Taught Me

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This post is a part of YKA’s dedicated coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak and aims to present factual, reliable information. Read more.

When the lockdown was announced on March 24, I had already stocked up vegetables and essentials for the week. I had been working remotely since January, so staying indoors wouldn’t be much of a problem or so I thought. But who knew we were in for an exhaustive ride. Six months later, I look back over these months and review the experiences.

Although I spent most of my time indoors, I experienced a range of emotions, thought patterns, and challenges that made this period more than eventful. It changed my perception of a lot of things. Here are 10 things I learned throughout these months.

Privilege Is Having A Choice

Most of us have some form of privilege in our lives. I know that I have been privileged in a lot of ways, yet, the notion of privilege didn’t weigh so heavily onto me until lockdown.

I was privileged to be able to choose to stay and work at home, I could buy groceries for a week and choose not to go outside daily. Even when the shops were closed, I had the privilege of choice to order my essentials from Swiggy or Zomato, despite the delivery fee.

Some didn’t have this privilege.

Much Of My Overwhelm Can Be Solved With A Simple To-Do List

Let me admit something. I am a lazy person! If there were someone who would do all the household chores, I would probably spend my whole day reading or writing, without offering help. But sadly, I don’t have someone like that so I am responsible for cleaning the mess my lazy self makes.

And this transition from the lazy to organized, along with accomplishing my professional tasks makes me overwhelmed.

I had always tried using a To-Do but I couldn’t stick to it. Until lockdown happened. I cannot describe how helpful sticking to a To-Do list has been.

Until lockdown happened. I cannot describe how helpful sticking to a To-Do list has been.

When You Do At Least One Thing Everyday That Lets You Move Out Of Your Comfort Zone, You Improve

When I say out of your comfort zone, I am not talking about grand things like sky diving or jumping off a cliff or talking to strangers (unless the strangers are your local vegetable vendors).

I am talking about the small things that we deliberately postpone doing, like washing the clothes in the chair, posting a creative caption for Instagram, picking up something from the floor, showing up when we don’t feel like it, and many more things that require us to fight the resistance and just do it.

These things may seem small but when done daily, they help us be more disciplined and improve significantly.

Procrastination Can Only Be Cured By Action

When I am hesitant to do something, even though I have to do it, I procrastinate.

And when I procrastinate, I procrastinate in the name of seeking information.

I have noticed that I tend to seek ‘inspiration’ by reading new articles with the same information again and again and watching inspirational videos when I should be working with the amount of information I already have.

Always Ask Whether A Situation Is In Your Control Or Not When You Catch Yourself Worrying About It

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr says, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.”

How many times do we fret about things that aren’t in our control? What might he be thinking? I made a fool of myself in front of everybody. I wish my parents were more understanding. I wish I had more friends. And so on. And sometimes, we keep spiralling down these negative trains of thoughts and worrying endlessly.

A simple exercise is to pause, call yourself out, take a breath, and ask yourself one simple question- “Is this situation in my control?”

If it is in your control, take the required action. If it isn’t, then gently let it go.

Whenever You Feel Something Negative Or Unusual, Be It Anger, Jealousy, Sadness, Or Numbness, Ask Yourself “Why Are You Feeling?”

This simple exercise has helped me understand the underlying issue behind my immediate emotions and feelings. This question also helps us understand that bad things are going to happen, but how we respond to those situations is in our control. This question has helped me understand more about myself and work on the issues causing negative emotions.

Takes practice, but is worth it.

Your Mood Is Not Permanent. Don’t Use It As An Excuse To Lash Out At People Or Cut Ties

Aren’t we all rudest with the people we love the most? The people we are comfortable with, are the ones who bear the brunt of our moods.

Maybe, we shouldn’t be treating people as punching bags. Maybe, we should get some headspace by going outside, taking a break from the situation, or anything that helps us get away from the situation until we settle. It’s important to give ourselves time to settle and understand what’s bothering us.

Maybe, all we need is a bit of self-care. But whatever it is, lashing out on people or cutting ties with friends whom we disagree with, is not the solution.

Shopping Does Reduce Stress. (Yes, Even Grocery Shopping Counts)

On days, when I couldn’t even go for a walk without being extra vigilant, shopping has greatly helped me reduce stress/ Representational image.

I didn’t want to admit this. But on days, when I couldn’t even go for a walk without being extra vigilant, shopping has greatly helped me reduce stress.

Buying something for myself felt like patting myself on the back for handling this situation without losing control and with responsibility. Whenever I go shopping (for buying monthly groceries), it feels like a reward for being responsible throughout these months.

Resultantly, I buy some extra chocolate or sweets for myself as a gift. A fun fact about adulting is, you gotta be your parent for the inner child in you.

When You Find Yourself Being Moody, Irritated Or Overwhelmed, You May Need to Take A Break

I cannot stress this enough. Whenever I am overworking, I tend to get irritated with small things. Earlier I didn’t know this pattern, but working from home has helped me understand myself better, and understanding this has greatly helped.

Being a pleaser, I tend to overwork and overexert myself. And when you are always at home, it becomes easy to blur the lines between work and life and throw the balance quotient out of the window.

However, lockdown helped me understand the signs of overwhelm and now I always take a break when/before I find myself getting irritated with small things.

Persist, Have Patience, And Keep Working Towards Your Goals Consistently

Resilience and consistency are two values that are extremely important to reach our goals. Unless we are consistent, we will never progress. Unless we are resilient, we will never bounce back after setbacks. I’ve tried to inculcate these two values in my life throughout these months and I’m progressing.

These were the lessons I learned since the lockdown began. It has been tough yet it has helped me become a more responsible person. My journey of self-discovery had started years back but the lockdown has helped me understand more aspects of myself and the society that I hadn’t reflected upon before.

Maybe, the lockdown has made me a better person. What about you?

The article was first published by Arpana Gautam on The Sikkim Chronicles.

Featured image for representational purposes only.
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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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