Distancing, Disconnecting & Well Being

Friday, 30 October 2020


Distancing, Disconnecting & Well Being

Ankurita Pathak | June 10, 2020 13:17 hrs

Social distancing and self-isolation are the buzzwords in the current times. However, in one of the most effusive culture in the planet, it sounded very dire initially as we Indians are wired evolutionarily for social proximity. 

With time, we have gradually adjusted to the world of telecommuting and self-quarantining but there are still times when we react to a spectrum of emotions impulsively and fall prey to the strain and anxiety of the uncertainty and chaos all around us. 

I had positively and happily completed 50 days in isolation and on the 51st day I am out of my doorway, landing straight in the hospital...not with COVID 19 but with acute lower back pain...long sitting hours of working from home...long standing hours of working for home...even with a strong endurance...I realised that I had hit a wall!!!

It was Mother's Day and I kept on thinking that a mother can't fall sick. I can't go to a doctor, I couldn’t expose my family to risk, where will I keep my son, what will happen to the house and a host of other questions created a web of confusion in my head. A mother is the centre of the system and everything goes haywire if she crumbles…and then there is  COVID 19 , when being at the hospital could be a scary proposition. But certain things are beyond your control, pain being one. 

In these moments, it dawned upon me that it is not just distancing that is important, it is also important to disconnect frequently. Everything can wait, work can wait, and the household chores can wait. What cannot wait is your well-being, both mental as well as physical.

That anxious urgency about dealing with everything is taxing. The mind is always calculating the to-do lists. Overloading attention truly shrinks mental control and the body takes a toll.

An average spends almost 10 hours online and we are constantly in the mental need to be connected to our devices so that we do not miss out on anything. Be it work related or personal, is a kind of addiction that has been subconsciously cultivated to satisfy our information hungry minds. 

Most days begin with checking WhatsApp messages, emails, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and our nights end with binge watching Netflix, Prime Video or Hotstar, ending up sleep deprived and brain fogged often. 

It is often important to reboot, recharge and rejuvenate. For this, we need to disconnect, only then we can reconnect with what matters most. 

The key to absorbing life and living mindfully is to disconnect from everything occasionally.  This will help in being more productive, more focused and above all, it is important to feel positive.

In the race of life, while building careers or earning money and chasing after name, fame and glory, we keep forgetting the little joys of life and the true value of life for itself.

COVID 19, if it has taught anybody anything, it’s the importance of life. Life is not just about your work responsibilities or your household chores.. Life is way beyond that. It is important to set your priorities, it is important to attain that balance. It is easier said than done but definitely not impossible.

The constant state of what we call Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) creates a lot of anxiety. It is important to have a period of time when we can abstain from using technology and reconnect with the real world. It will help us break our habits and rekindle our relationships with ourselves and the world around us. This will also help on increasing productivity and be more focussed.

Our smartphones and our devices have also created a whole new interpretation of the traditional workaholic image. It is not just about a workaholic image of someone physically ensconced in the workspace, working even in wee hours. Here, we are constantly connected with emails and messages, it is entirely possible to just not stop working baring the time when we are asleep.  

In spite of the current work trends, there are studies that show that it is important to disconnect after a particular amount of time to keep work life balance in check and stress at bay. It is important to create the boundaries between personal and professional life so that both part of the life are taken care off with equal importance and elan. The expectations of always being available should not be considered as the requirement of a successful professional life nor should be a yardstick to measure work commitment and dedication. 

It is therefore rightly said that like your muscles, the brain too needs recovery time in order to recover, recuperate, develop and grow.  Unplugging and disconnecting from technology and also people is thus the key to allowing our brain to grow and thereby resulting in increasing productivity, positively impacting social lives, decreasing overall stress and leading a positively life.  Scheduling rest time on a daily basis is important to overall wellbeing. 

This is a well validated practice in several parts of the world. For example, I like the way the people in Israel take their rest day so seriously. The Sabbath is a day set aside for rest, worship and family time. Public life and corporate dealings largely halt in Israel during Shabbat, and government offices and most local business close. Public transportation might not run, particularly in Jerusalem and rural towns. This extends even to using electronic equipment, driving cars, and cooking. How I wish we could take our weekends so seriously and people do not bother us with work and disturb our rest days!  

Anything that is overdone could be harmful. Be it social connections or technological addictions, everything is connected to our wellbeing. Give the rest we need to ourselves by distancing and disconnecting regularly.
In that vortex of endless responsibilities, it is important to remember to prioritise YOURSELF. If YOU are fine...you can see to it that everyone is fine...everything is fine...YOU come first...rest will follow!! 

(The author is working with working with FICCI as Jt Director. The views expressed in the article are her own.)

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