Expert advice about how to survive a lockdown by Geethan A, Managing Director of Nibbana Counseling & Psychotherapy Centre, Chennai

Let’s be honest, the last few weeks have been crazy, to say the least. Dealing with a pandemic, learning to live life in a new way with all these limitations on mobility, fighting for essentials, staying healthy, taking care of our families has all been very stressful. Given the strange and unprecedented times we’re in, there’s one part of self care that most of us tend to overlook – our emotional wellbeing. In the interest of promoting a healthy attitude, firstly, let us tell you, if you feel frustrated, dejected and anxious about the future, it’s completely normal. 

Secondly, you are also not alone; almost everybody around you is feeling the heat. Though the magnitude of our emotions may vary, we are in the same emotional roller coaster now because we do not know how to survive a lockdown like this.

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Spend this time getting closer to your family.

A Therapist’s Take

The Livspace Magazine team caught up with Geethan A, the Managing Director of Nibbana Counseling and Psychotherapy Centre in Chennai, to understand how to survive the uncertainty and pressure that comes with a lockdown. And he started by setting some context. Most of the effort that many of us put in as adults is focused on building a home, a shelter for ourselves and our family. This physical space that we construct for ourselves and our families gives us a sense of belonging. In the past, we all may have often lamented that we don’t get to spend enough time at home with our loved ones. Now we must learn how to survive difficult times with or without our family.” 

Let’s explore why we are feeling so trapped during the lockdown despite being in a relatively comfortable situation at home, and also how to deal with it.

So why do we feel the way we feel right now?

how to difficult times-quarantine depression
So why do we feel the way we feel right now?

Geethan asks, “What makes us do what we do?” This basically means what drives us to build relationships with family and friends, build a career and create an identity at work, secure a place called home, travel, enjoy a hobby, contribute to society, help others and many more such activities that give a purpose and meaning to our lives. Eric Berne, the founder of Transactional analysis, said that we are basically driven by six hungers and they are :

Stimulus Hunger

This is a need to feel excited, thrilled or aroused that occurs through an external\ internal trigger. A stimulus could be an input through any of the 5 senses and as well as intellectual and emotional connections with others. When deprived of this stimulus, we may feel lifeless and lonely. 

Contact Hunger

This is needed to feel connected to the others, to have the experience of oneness with another as well as to be separate. Physical touch and the sense of others makes us feel our existence. When we are deprived of contact, we go to any extent to reestablish contact, either through fights or intimacy. Being in contact is equivalent to having air to breathe for our survival. 

Recognition Hunger

We need recognition for who we are, what we do, how we look and for many other things. When this hunger is deprived the human system crumbles and loses a sense of internal safety and purpose .

Structure Hunger

When we are busy or free we always have a plan of what we will do. Even if we are on a holiday, we may plan something like, “I will not do anything for 2 days, then I will meet friends, go with family for dinner and use a couple of days for the long pending work. Imagine when we cannot make a structure for ourselves; this can lead to uncertainty. An absence of routine may give rise to anxiety or restlessness disturbing our internal balance.

Incident Hunger

We look for incidents and create incidents around us. Also, we read newspapers, watch TV or look at social media to know about events and incidents. We also plan for a birthday party or marriage anniversary, festivals and celebrations to have sufficient events. Imagine now, when there are no incidents or events that we can create or we are not in control of. This can make us feel we are not in charge of our life. 

Sexual or Creative Hunger 

Though Berne mentioned this hunger as a part of procreation, it isn’t limited  only to sexual needs. I also see creativity as an equivalent of sexual hunger. As per my perspective, many discoveries, innovations, technology and arts are the result of the creative craving in us.

An individual’s personality is shaped by the type of hunger to which a person pays most attention. It also depends on how he goes about fulfilling that hunger. Some hungers are unfulfilled and not even noticed due to lack of awareness and limitation in the family and social system. But if we want to understand how to survive a lockdown, we must be aware of all our hungers.

How do we address these hungers & survive the lockdown?

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Make the best of the situation.

Before COVID- 19, we would have taken care of these hungers in a particular way through our routines, work, family time, me time, travel time and party time. In the post COVID- 19 universe, we are deprived of those routines. This disturbance of our routine is causing confusion and uncertainty. However, our capacity and resources to take care of these “hungers” are intact. Thus,

  • We should use this time to address the framework of basic hungers and also to reflect on what hungers you were paying attention to earlier. This may differ from person to person.
  • Then, consider how you can fulfill those hungers now during lockdown. 
  • Communicating with family and friends to find ways of supporting each other in fulfilling these hungers during this time can be rewarding. 
  • Managing these hungers together as a family or as a team can transform the lockdown period into an opportunity to open up new possibilities for a rejuvenated life. 

Never in the memorable history have we faced such a situation where whole nations are under lockdowns. This lockdown can redefine how we look at life, our relationships, and the meaning and purpose we give our experiences. Are we ready to redefine? That’s the question to ask ourselves. And in it lies the answer to how to survive a lockdown without getting depressed. 

If you found this piece about how to handle difficult times relevant, also explore The Trick to Stocking Up is Planning Well, Not Wiping Grocery Stores Clean.

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