Information about the dire state of the country floods every new channel. Every social media post is a cry for beds, medicines, and oxygen. In an attempt to distract myself, I turned my attention to the only friends I have access to — the sitcom FRIENDS on Netflix.
Did my mind find its solace? Well, while my body was seated in a lousy posture watching the happiest sitcom known to humankind, my brain remained tuned to the pandemic frequency. The six FRIENDS sit in the coffee shop and make jokes about ‘Ross’ dating a teenager. A hilarious episode indeed! But my brain thought: “Why are they not wearing masks or keeping a distance?”
The news of death, defeat, and distress is overwhelming for the creative mind. The information around us is ingrained into our minds, and it’s not your fault you feel worried and distracted.
Why This Sucks!
More than 82% of all Indians today are living under stress. This statistic shows you are not alone, and it’s normal to feel the way you do. We already live our lives dealing with a daily dose of strains. Be it your job, income, fitness, relationship, or much more. The killer virus simply adds to this mix.
Being locked away from the things you enjoy is difficult. It’s like being in a privileged prison, but a prison nonetheless. This feeling of anxiousness comes from a lack of knowledge, uncertainty, and information overload.
It can also stem from the feeling of helplessness. Humans come programmed to fix problems and overcome challenges. But this problem is not in our control, and the incapability can impair you.
But listen, take a deep breath, and read along. As the saying goes: “Once you feel like you hit the bottom, the only way out is upwards!”
What Is Step One?
The first step; making sure you are safe and comfortable. Stay indoors as much as you can. Do not make plans that jeopardize your health or those around you. If you live with your family, enforce the same caution to them all. If you live alone — keep your thoughts aside and call your friends a family every moment you need it.
It also helps to remind yourself why you are doing what you do. You create because you love doing it and not because a deadline demands it. Reaffirm to yourself that you genuinely love what you are doing.
Next, resolve the two causes (lack of knowledge and information overload) behind this anxiety.
Make Yourself Aware
Do not believe what you see on Whatsapp and advise others not to share unsolicited information. Read up, or watch reliable videos about the cause and treatment of the virus, the vaccine, and the steps to remain safe.
Spend just an hour or two knowing all you need, and then stop. This information will keep your panic at bay every time you cough, sneeze or feel breathless from running up the stairs. Knowing what you are dealing with also helps you bring your focus back to the more essential aspects.
Information that you cannot digest floods the social media and news feed. If this makes you feel overwhelmed, it best you disconnect. There is no harm in taking a few days away from information that bogs you down.
You can use a publishing tool (Life Buffer) if you are a creator who needs social media. You can also use a time-based app-lock that shuts you off your social media channels after a set period.
How To Get Through This
The feeling of under-productivity and your inability to work is normal. Each person deals with this differently and at their own pace.
Here are a few ways you can keep your focus back on your work and your life:
Try To Make A Collaboration
Think back to the time before your school and college exams. The best way to learn was not to spend hours on your desk or burning the midnight oil. It was those few minutes you spent learning in a group before the start of the exam.
The company of your computer could become monotonous with time. Try to collaborate and create virtually with friends or other creators. You can also ask a friend to set a few deadlines or follow-ups to keep you in check.
Try Something Very New
Did you know that companies like Airbnb, Whatsapp, Groupon, or an Indian giant like Flipkart started in the middle of the financial meltdown of 2008? It’s because a crisis gives a builder the time to step back and examine the world around them. You can read more about it here.
Start something new if the work overwhelms you. Create the career you always wanted to. Make that video, shoot that script, write that book, finish that blog — your options are endless. Finish those projects that remained on the backburner.
Many creators also use this time to upskill. It’s the same reason we all learned how to cook during the first lockdown. You don’t have to do it, but here is the time if you always wanted to.
Find Your Flow State
The moment when you are intensely focused on something and cannot get your mind off it is called the Flow State. This practice is a scientifically proven way to get work done when you feel overwhelmed or unproductive.
We have heard the phrase “In the zone!” used to describe people who are a hundred percent absorbed in their work. It takes about twenty minutes of doing something before you cannot stop doing it.
One way to promote the flow state is the Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for twenty-five minutes and focus all your attention on the work till the timer buzzes. Do not get up for water, snacks, or see your phone during this time. Once the buzzer rings, there is a good chance you are in the flow state and will go on to finish the task till the end.
Make Time For Other Activities
Being stuck at home does not mean you need to spend all your time behind a screen. Switch to non-screen recreation like reading a book, meditation, getting on a phone call, cooking, or anything else.
Start exercising today if you don’t. You may have read this many times, but it does help — here is how:
The heart rate and blood flow regulate when you exercise or go on a run. This activity also promotes the growth of new brain cells in the hippocampus by stimulating the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). Such actions do not just distract you from the world but provide robust benefits to keep you motivated and creative.
Lastly, take a few minutes each day to message and call a few close friends or other creators. When everything feels like you are in an apocalyptic movie, it’s nice to get a call from a friend and keep your mind at ease.
Yes, It sucks. But allow yourself the time and the freedom to look out for yourself and those around you.
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