It’s been almost five and a half months of this lockdown and work from home model for us now. Initially, there was a lot of panic, anxiety, fear and uncertainty that we were grappling with. The isolation, the added work of home chores, the constant mental pressure of feeling overwhelmed – there were some emotional breakdowns. While sitting at home was not new for us, not having the choice to go out, the added and required social distancing, ensuring we reduce our trips for essentials, constantly wanting to reach out to friends and family over video calls – it was mostly panic.
Adapting to the tech driven working patterns, consuming a lot more social media and news, it all added up to the feeling of not being able to catch up. Like suddenly everyone around you is stopping but is ahead of you; like you are not doing enough. I stood up to the challenge of taking on the additional work and pushed myself everyday but it felt like every morning I had to start from scratch. Along with office work, there was cooking, cleaning, managing groceries, wanting to spend more time on gardening, conducting a weekly bollywood quiz for a bunch of friends on whatsapp, and I did a lot more to keep myself busy.
I didn’t realise for a long time that just because we are at home all the time doesn’t mean we don’t need rest or some time for ourselves. As time passed, the panic mellowed down and the mind started adjusting to this change as a long term change versus a short term sacrifice. I wasn’t as anxious anymore, the uncertainty didn’t scare me as much because while so much changed, a lot remained as it was. What didn’t change, is what allowed me to accept the change faster.
Once things started opening up slowly, I bought some art and craft supplies to make more out of my time at home. Now I was striving to be more and more productive with work, home chores and hobbies, and in phases, efforts to workout as well. A point came after a couple of months where I gave up. I had to make the choice for myself, my sanity and mental peace. I had to reduce my daily chores to balance my work.
I realised that without any daily travel, we are saving time for sure, but also have flexibility with our time now. It’s not just about more time, it’s the ability to switch between tasks and activities easily. During the day now, whenever I get a few minutes, I play the keyboard, practice a few tunes, sometimes even learn one quickly. I have realised for once, I genuinely have control over the time that is personal. Once work is done, or is not on high pressure, I can use that time to do something meaningful even if it means a nap, immediately. I don’t have to wait to get home, go through that stress, then eventually come home and give up on all the ideas just to be able to potato on the couch.
I have picked up new hobbies, revisited some old ones, learnt lessons about myself and people around me. I slowly let go of some activities that were not bringing me much joy or were simply adding to my stress. I allowed myself to flow through the days, thoughts, interests and engaged myself in whatever was the mood for the day. I didn’t try to put myself in any more boxes.
It has been possible only once I accepted the situation, stopped fighting what I can’t change, and found my way around it. It’s not been easy, but it’s not been too hard because of certain basics that have remained unchanged throughout. I feel grateful to have had this opportunity to be able to have a real work-life balance with no caveats of travel time, money and effort.
However, after feeling all of that growth, I soon started getting anxious about what a roller coaster it is going to be to adjust to jumping back into the traffic!