Free Press Journal

Why it makes sense to ‘switch off’ your problems…

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This activity rids the mind of fatigue and makes it fresh again, ready to take on the challenges of life head on, writes Dr Shrirang Bakhle

A man was telling his friend, “In my home, my wife takes all the small decisions: Which school should the children go to, where should we go for the vacation, which car should we buy etc. And I take all the BIG decisions: Which batsman should open the inning for India, which country should the PM visit, who should become the President of the USA, etc.”

Joke apart, this points to a very important and common activity that all of us indulge in: getting fully involved in issues that are not connected to us directly. These include international politics, sports where we are not personally involved, debates on the TV about national events, interesting happenings in remote countries, etc. And, yes, the man did not realize that his wife, too, is involved in making similar BIG decisions: how should all the characters in her favourite TV serials behave, what should different celebrities wear for different grand occasions, how should her office colleague’s neighbour’s sister-in-law behave with her mother-in-law etc. Are all these activities just faaltu time pass? Or do they serve any important purpose in our lives?


Of course, they are very useful activities. Such activities and animated discussions and even, just watching such things on TV, serve an important purpose: for some time, at least, they take our minds off our routine day-to-day life. This is no small achievement! Once, some of my friends were discussing movies. One serious friend said, “Movies should be realistic and have some message”. Another friend said, “Spectacular, exotic fantasies are very important. Such movies can make ordinary people, who are burdened by their problems, forget those problems for some time. And it’s a very a noble work”. Many such movies – especially the ones with happy endings – give a lot of happiness and hope and freshness of the mind to all the thousands of viewers. When viewers come out of the movie hall with laugher and happiness, it’s a great achievement.

All of us have the daily dose of problems – small or big. The solvable problems don’t cause a lot of misery. We solve them and get on with life. But there are many, many problems that are unsolvable or are going to take a long time to get solved. The mind tends to keep on thinking about such problems again and again – almost endlessly. Then the mind starts suffering – a very prolonged suffering. Apparently, the mind keeps searching for solutions. But we know well that some problems (such as death of a loved one) do not have a solution. Some problems (such as business losses) do not have a quick solution. The mind almost reaches the point of fatigue thinking about them again and again. That is the time to switch off the problems – at least for some time.

This ‘switching off the problems for some time’ has many benefits. It rids the mind of fatigue and makes it fresh again – ready to take on the challenges of life! Normally, a good sleep can do this job. But some unfortunate people are no able get sound, refreshing sleep. For them, such switching off is immensely useful.

You must have observed this: Suppose, you are stuck with some tricky problem. You keep on thinking about it, but are unable to think of a solution. Then you get involved in some totally unrelated activity for some time. And afterwards, you come back to the original problem. Many a times, we find that when we approach the problem with a refreshed mind, we suddenly get the answer!

For many people, such switching off means a long-awaited relief. We can see many elderly couples in whom one person is bed-ridden or dependent – while the other person is reasonably fit. Being caring persons, the fit elderly takes on the responsibility of caring for the other. But 24×7 caring leads to mental tiredness. If other members of the family recognise this, they ensure that this care-giver gets a much-needed vacation to remove the burden from the mind.

Vacations are great from the switching off point of view. It means a complete change of scene: different house, different food, different people and different pleasures. It’s a big switch off from the same old daily routine. But it involves spending a lot of time – and money! So, it can be done occasionally, but not every day!

It is necessary for each of us to find some activity that can be done every day. For different people, the activities can be quite different. The hobbies are great switch offs. For example, singing, gardening, reading, cooking and so on and on.

It is essential that the activity grabs your attention. Only then, it can serve as switch off. If the activity has become routine and boring, it cannot serve as a switch off. Then, it is time to find another activity. So, what are you waiting for? Switch on the Idiot box – oops, the smart, ‘switch off’ box – get transported to another world – for some time!