Updated: Jun 18
It was nearing the end of April, when cases had begun to peak and simultaneously, so did people’s worries and anxieties.
Up until now we had only used a two-pronged approach; providing reliable information via our various social media channels and providing emotional support telephonically. However, one thing that became clear by this time, which was that people wanted a common platform wherein they could come together and discuss their worries and their hopes amidst the ongoing pandemic.
Our webinar series sought to do just that. We decided that we would conduct weekly interdisciplinary panel discussions and discuss an array of topics from diverse viewpoints. We felt that when these ideas coalesce they may provide answers to some questions that wouldn’t have been satisfactorily answered had they come from a single viewpoint.
Fast forward to a month later, and we’ve had 4 webinars so far, starting out with the topic that led us to start off this initiative; “How Overexposure to Information Induces Anxiety in People during Covid-19”.
Dr. Priti Dhawan spoke of the importance of choices. “Choices have to be made right now. What we read impacts our thoughts and subsequently our actions.” She brought about the concept of an “accountability clock” – WHO we want to listen to in our social world; WHAT we want to do with that information – make it go viral or use it thoughtfully. In case of the former, panic churns panic and hence a psychological loop forms; WHERE has this information originated from. These three hands of the clock symbolize the informed choices that individuals need to make in these trying times. She ended with an alternative definition of COVID – Caring, Optimism, Valiance, Ideation and Determination. Ms. Rajkumari Sharma Tankha spoke about the importance of balanced perspectives when consuming news. “Pick up just two newspapers – not more than that – and pick one newspaper that is giving you positive news and the other that is giving you negative news and then you sit back and think about it so you will realise that the situation is not as bad as that is portrayed in the media.” Finally, Mr. Umesh Anand spoke of how “News is all about stress. A long time back there was a guy called Marshal Mitchel who said that “the medium is the message”. The message his defined by the vehicle in which it is in. Society in a democracy lives on information it can be-trust. The common denominator has to be information you can trust. Make people accountable for the information they put out in the public domain, let their information speak for them. In conclusion, he reiterated the importance of the source.
Our second panel discussion was on the topic, “Covid-19 Crisis : Assessing the Mental Health Needs of Startup Founders.”
Mr. Anupam Gupta spoke about the startup perspective and how open communication is extremely important for a startup to function smoothly. “Minor achievements should be celebrated.” Dr. Garima Srivastava spoke of strategies to cope including reframing, refocusing, relying on reliable information and regaining a sense of control and agency. She spoke of how we should focus on things that are within our sphere of influence rather than what is out of our control. Ms. Ishita Pateria’s provided our attendees with some tips on controlling anxiety in times like these including how strategies like visualisation, townhall meetings and the one day at a time approach can go a long way in managing in these tough times. “Learn to respond, not react.” She spoke of a “one day at a time approach” and how breaking down work into small, realistic goals can lead to a sense of accomplishment.
Our third panel discussion was on the topic, “Health and Wellness : Effect of Covid-19.”
“Early March, it felt like everything was falling apart. But today here I am talking to you, and I got a new job and aced my semester too.” Ms. Barkha Bhatnagar spoke of her personal experience and what worked for her – self care (physical exercise and meditation), leveraging one’s social support system and accepting reality. Dr. Megha Dhillon provided our attendees with insights on physical exercise and diet – focusing on the barriers to exercising and how one can overcome the same by starting slow, setting SMART goals and setting time aside for recovery. In addition to this she also provided tips on how one can motivate oneself to start exercising – from setting a time aside everyday for exercise, mixing it up and maybe getting an accountability buddy to check up on us in addition to the multiple fitness apps out there. If you want to start something new – like exercise – accept that each body is different. Focus on what you are doing, not what others are doing.” “Do what works for you.”
Our fourth panel discussion and the culmination of our first month of webinars, was on the topic, “Relationships and Resilience : Effect of Covid-19.”
Ms. Sharon Wilson provided our attendees with tips on going inwards and building on what we’re already good at and chasing our passions. “Like we detox, the universe detoxes too. Everything starts from us – go back to loving yourself, have a relationship with yourself, spend time with yourself.” Ms. Jessica Corvo delved into her personal experience of what worked for her in what was a crisis situation. “Pausing allows you to observe your outside world, and then see your inside world. It is the situation to love yourself, see what your emotions are trying to tell you.” ‘W.A.I.T. – why am I talking?’ and just taking a step back and slowing down, processing emotions, accepting coexisting realities and finding the strength to bounce back could go a long way. Dr. Kanika Ahuja provided the viewers with an insightful study she conducted which had some significant and startling results about love amongst married couples and dating couples before and after the pandemic. Amongst married couples, “the people whose love decreased, it decreased by up to 50% and for those whose love grew, it grew only by 3.5%. Love has been a collateral damage in COVID.” Doing things together essentially came out as the one building block to sustaining healthy relationships – be it through mundane or fun things. “Feeling love is not enough – even expression is not enough – you have to get up and put in the work.”
In all, it was an insightful and informative one month. Stay tuned for more webinars and more knowledge sharing
By – Jaanvi Chopra