Riddhima on mental health: It is important to take time off and engage in some 'me time'

Riddhima Kapoor Sahni speaks to MANASI Y MASTAKAR about keeping mental well-being in check, parenting in lockdown and more...

Manasi Y Mastakar | Updated on: Sunday, July 12, 2020, 04:38 AM IST


The whole is going through a crazy time due to the coronavirus pandemic. A lot of people are upset, annoyed, frustrated, hear of physical abuse, domestic violence, almost every second day. You hear of people taking out their frustration on their spouse, their children, staff, etc. This is all because the balance has been disrupted somewhere. A lot of us focus on physical health, but somewhere we ignore our mental health. And in today’s time it is important to take care of your mental health as along with physical health of course.

Keeping mental health in check

Because of the lockdown our outdoor activities have come to a halt, which is making many of us irritable, frustrated. I think in such situations, what we can do is distract our mind by engaging in some fun activities. One can do yoga, meditate or just chant. Take time off social media, reduce screen time. Instead engage in activities (painting, doodling, exercising, etc) that give you peace of mind. I think it is important to just take some time off and engage in some 'me time'. It’s all about keeping yourself at peace and happy.

For my mental well-being I do yoga, I meditate, chant Om, do Kapalabhati and ahobilam to keep my chakras in place. Thankfully I have not faced mental health issue. Yes, we all get anxious and’s a part of life. But, one has to focus and remain positive. Keep telling yourself that this is a temporary phase and it will be over soon and normalcy will return at some point. And because we’ve lived through it and we will be even stronger when this is all over.

Lockdown parenting

Not just adults, even children are getting affected by the lockdown and pandemic. My daughter is at an age where she understands what coronavirus is and that the world is going through a pandemic. She knows that schools are not going to be functional for a while. Initially, she enjoyed the idea of being at home as she didn’t have to go school, but then came a point where she became a little agitated as she could not see her friends, got out to play or have play dates. The virtual school and online classes kept her busy for quite some time.

It’s very easy for a parent to give the child a video game and say 'ok play now, don’t bother us'. To be honest, I did the same. But, I gave a screen time. As a parent I try to keep her engaged. Like recently I took her to kitchen to bake a cake. It is a challenge that parents are facing. But it's very important to communicate with your children and keep them busy with activities they enjoy. It can be anything—reading, drawing or painting, doing zumba or just dancing to their favourite songs or doing exercise or yoga together, playing games. Samara used to enjoy doing yoga with me, but not anymore. So instead I tell her to run up and down the stairs five or six times. Children are used to their outdoor activities and none of that is happening. So it's quite natural for them to get frustrated being literally trapped at home. I think it's also important to reduce screen time for children and engage in such activities instead, which will not only keep them busy, but also make them happy.

I keep talking to parents on a forum to see how they are keeping their kids busy during lockdown. And many parents says the same thing: Do whatever the child enjoys, do not force or push him/her to do things he/she doesn’t want to do. Forcing can make the child more aggressive and frustrated.

Of course, many children just want to spend time on their gadgets. Let them, but allot screen time.

My go-to person

When I feel like sharing my problems or talking about anything, my mother is somebody I go to. She is very strong and I call her my Iron Lady. I know what all she’s been through in these two years...given her time, life, everything...I’m sure she’s very disturbed about what happened (passing away of my father), but she doesn’t show it because she doesn’t want us to be upset or depressed. Everyday is a healing process for us. We laugh, cry, joke...we do everything together. We can't sit and cry whole day because we know he’s not coming back. We live through his memory and celebrate his life. We both of are there for each other.


Communication is the key

I know a lot of people look down upon mental health problems. People go through ups and down. If somebody is going through a rough phase or facing such a problem, and if you know the person, pick up the phone and call. Or, if you are going through a problem and if you can talk to someone you know won't judge you and listen with an open heart, then please pick up the phone and call. I think people don't open up because they are scared of being judged. Ye log kya kahenge ke chakkar mein a lot of people keep it within themselves. All you need to do is communicate.

But, there are also instances when people don't want to talk about their problem. They probably want to self heal. Or may be just want to talk about random things without talking about their problem. Again, there's no harm in making that call and talking about just random things. It's all about diverting the mind, keeping busy.

I say this from personal experience. When the tragedy struck us, we weren't in a good phase. But I had my family and friends who stood by us like a rock. I’ve friends who message me every day, not lengthy notes, but just saying ‘hugs’. That’s it. And these messages made me feel better. Sometimes, all you need is a message, a call.

But, I think things are changing and people are opening about their mental health problems, unlike earlier when they would close up. All I can say, talk, communicate, open up. Don't keep it within yourself, that is not good either. If not that then engage in some kind of activity. Doing yoga is also good as it calms the mind. Or pick up a hobby. Lockdown is a good time to do that. Take some time off to do something that you enjoy as that also becomes important for your mental well-being.

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Published on: Sunday, July 12, 2020, 07:00 AM IST