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Day 14 of lockdown – Improve physical, mental, emotional & spiritual health

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This time will be remembered – 6

By SUNITA VIJAY 

We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy — Joseph Campbell

The corona virus struck the world with unmatched sweep and ferocity. Its spread is almost uncontrollable. The pandemic is dismaying. Governments, health personnel, and you and I, have reasons to worry. At present, there is no cure, no concrete line of treatment, no light at the end of this ‘unending’ tunnel except for taking precautions. A long home stay is taking a toll on the mental well-being of those who are all alone or have other personal/health issues. They have started showing signs of frustration and restlessness; an obvious reaction of an untamed mind.

The Human is a social animal. We cannot remain isolated for long. We have engineered ourselves to socialise, travel, wander, mingle, chat, vent our emotions by sharing feelings, feel the sense of touch by hugging and embracing others, remain busy at work for remuneration and then come back home to relax and recharge. As said by Hippocrates, “Everything in excess is opposed to nature.” Excess stay at home is unwieldy for the materialistic human that we have become.

Solitude is a rarely in the ambit of our wandering mind. Socialising, having a drink with friends, dancing in a club, grooming in salons, eating out; all this is conspicuously displayed in our daily routine. We all are in different stages as per the Hindu ashram system – Brahmacharya (bachelor system), Grihastha (being in and occupied with home, family or householder), Vanaprastha (forest dweller, retired) or sannyasa (renunciation). But, are we following it?

No! We are displaying an overlapping behaviour; we are overstepping the boundaries of various ashrams. We are humans but have evolved into superhumans. The challenges and competition to win the race has made us mature before age, explore our senses before time and exhaust our potential, all against our mental and physical limitations; we are running out of steam when it comes to work towards our mental, physical and spiritual health. We have become nocturnal beings, we work our brain overtime, we remain sleep deprived, we miss viewing sunrise and have not seen sunset for years. Our sleeping patterns, eating habits, inharmonious living has adversely affected our bodies. Immunity has grown weak, as we have come to be fundamentally at odds with Nature.

The lockdown phase has provided a propitious time to reach back to nature and create a better version of ourselves. Here are a few tips that may improve our overall balance and immunity. Let’s create a robust health bank that may withstand the periods of flu outbreak or any other epidemics or pandemics without being affected. This reservoir is not created overnight. It accumulates slowly but is the best defence against bacteria and viruses.

Improve your eating habits: eat less, fast often, relish always
Eat less and slowly. Chew your food into a paste. Concentrate on the taste and flavour. Eat each morsel with patience while sitting. Eat only when you are hungry. Do not eat when your body does not demand. During loss of appetite phase, switch to liquid diet as per bodily requirement. Do not eat to the full, anytime. Do not overfill your tummy. Keep a small section of the stomach empty. Indulging in overeating during this anxious phase will make us ill. Do not overload your digestive machinery. Give a break in between meals.

Fast often. Fasting is the ultimate medicine. Practice intermittent fasting or once in a blue moon skip a meal to adopt a water/fluids only diet, or soup fasting. On certain days, skip salt and cereals. Eat a balanced, wholesome diet. Choose your food appropriately that has the right amount of protein, vitamins, carbs, minerals, etc. Drink lots of water. It will reduce anxiety. Prefer foods with low calorific density, especially if you work a desk-job or aren’t able to include sufficient exercise daily in your lifestyle.

Practice Mindful Breathing
Breathe deeply and slowly. Be mindful of your breath whenever possible. Take long breaths while engaged in the kitchen, praying, working on the desktop or reading. Embrace short breaks, maybe for a few minutes in between work, and concentrate on the breath. Slow inhalation and extremely long exhalation will slowly give rise to positive thoughts and negative thoughts will start thinning. It will ward off anxiety.

A calming cycle of breath can be practiced as follows: Take a long, slow breath in through your nose, first filling your lower lungs, then your upper lungs. Hold your breath to the count of three. Exhale slowly through pursed lips, while you relax the muscles in your face, jaw, shoulders, and stomach.

This is an essential tool during this phase of lockdown when the rise of positive cases of COVID-19 drowns us in anxiety and fear. Deep breathing will calm the mind, slow down the racing heart, provide a good stock of oxygen to each cell of our body and make us fitter.

Joyful Speech
Just the way you have tempered gluttony and regulated breathing, similarly keep control over your speech. Be conscious while speaking to others. Choose the right words, express yourself thoughtfully – being aware of and sensitive to the peculiar conditions of the listener(s). Any brawl during this time in the family or any scuffle with friends (on phone) will build anxiety and remorse later. This is not the time to annoy anyone. Keep yourself and your loved ones in high spirits, in cheerful state. Talk well, create happy cells and a joyful atmosphere at home.

Sit still and calm your mind
The best remedy to ease your ruffled thoughts is to sit still for a while. Not doing anything and merely focussing on your breathing will bring down the restlessness in the mind and body. If concentration is weak, chant any of the mantras you know but sit still and bring your thoughts back. It will provide energy to the exhausted cells and empower the body and mind and awaken the consciousness.
Pure joy might seem like a fleeting emotion, but even if you feel it for a moment, you can hold on to it.

I reiterate. This time will never come back. Cash on it in improving physical, mental and emotional health.