Indulge Time Pass: Anuvab Pal and Sonali Gupta tell us how to deal with the new normal, burnouts and family Whatsapp groups
While everyone has their own way of dealing with the quarantine, it is always helpful to get some experts to weigh in. For the latest edition of Indulge Time Pass, author and journalist Kaveree Bamzai hosts comedian Anuvab Pal and clinical psychologist Sonali Gupta on a Zoom call to discuss helpful ways to navigate our mental health during the lockdown. Both Pal and Gupta reveal that they find it challenging to adapt to new norms of social behaviour.
“I think we’re the most anxious about this timeline, no one knows when it’s ending. Our anxiety is about not having control. I have clients who will go down to their cars, move their cars a little and pause. People have massive insomnia and constant panic attacks. For the first time in 14 years there’s no train passing near my home, I don’t know how I will react when it resumes again!” Gupta remarks.
Both experts agree that the lockdown has shed a lot of light upon gender roles and how anxiety affects all sexes. “I know so many people who regret not buying a dishwasher because there’s much more work now, the argument over gender roles is really interesting. Most men are not in touch with their feelings; they have never been home for so long, surrounded by kids constantly, they need to articulate it. For working women the burnout is massive. They are anxious about whether they should articulate their issues. For people who are losing their jobs, men especially, there is provider anxiety, which is why they need to get in touch with their feelings,” Gupta informs.
“Oh, I’m Bengali. I have given up on being the provider long ago. I’ve turned to my partner and told her to provide,” Pal quips. But on a serious note, the comedian himself has anxieties about navigating the new normal where there’s so much widespread panic, especially on social media and family Whatsapp groups. “How do I not pay attention to panicky Whatsapp forwards from uncles or people who are making me anxious!” he asked Gupta. The doctor urges people to set up some internal boundaries, not just for Whatsapp groups but also for ourselves.
“For older millennials like me, and younger ones this is a very new set-up. One way to deal with anxieties is to set healthy internal boundaries, external boundaries are very easy, we can just block or unfollow people. But during this time we need to learn when to engage with whom and when to maintain a distance. Learn to have conversations with family when they can be receptive and separate selfishness from self-compassion. Indian culture only teaches you to be giving; when you get married the advice is not to take care of yourself first, but we need to do that. We all need self-compassion; when you feel like steering away from a family Whatsapp group, just disengage,” says Gupta, who also revealed that she blocked all Whatsapp groups for an entire month as they trigger anxiety.
Bamzai obviously asked Pal and Gupta for their insights on what’s to come, and what they think would be the biggest problems in days to come. While Pal stresses on taking it one day at a time, no matter what the future holds, Gupta believes that people will find it challenging to interact with each other. “The nature of anxiety is obsessive. If one thought is stuck in the head, it makes people finicky and insecure, they will overthink. People at home working long hours will have massive burnouts. Right now we have emails coming in at 11 in the night, it’s not healthy for anyone. From a workplace perspective, it’s mismatched, there’s no closure over when their day ends,” Gupta says.