We loved the idea of a work from home scenario, the mere thought of having ample time on our hands, made us ecstatic. But little did we know that this freedom had the potential to mess with our daily routine and most importantly, our sleep cycles. For most of us, life was on autopilot, with a planned structure. But now, with no need to report to work, most of us are spending nights either working, surfing the internet or watching OTT content. Kavita Mungi, mental health counsellor, affirms, she says, “As there is no urgency or timings of attendance, even if one is working from home, it leads to a lethargic state of mind and body. There is no train/ bus to catch early in the morning or anywhere to go to. So, one may just stay awake late at nights binge watching their favourite shows. This, in turn, may result in a disturbing sleep- wake cycle. One has to also watch out for binge eating and drinking which may lead to a disturbing mental as well as physical health situation.”
But what can be done, though, is being aware of, and recognising these changes, and then acting upon them to improve the situation. The virus has not taken away hours from our days. What the virus has done though, is deleted our familiar programs.
Dr Shwetambara Sabharwal, clinical psychologist and relationship counsellor, cautions us, she says, “Let’s not be delusional and trivialise this experience, this is a hard U-turn and has shaken us to the core. We must understand why some of us are finding this newness hard to absorb and then make certain adjustments.”
Sabharwal explains that there are three dimensions to our existence that we need to deploy, all together, to adapt and survive”
1 Body: the body works on oxygen, water, food, sleep, and of course prevention of disease. Recognise its needs and the new reality. Use and nourish your body well, with good breathing techniques, healthy eating, hydration, exercise, sleep, and necessary precautions.
2 Mind: Break down your rigid perceptions of what a day and schedule “must” look like, that productivity is a consequence only of formal office hours, that housework is not work at all, and finally embrace and respect your new reality.
3 Soul: The most valuable hard lesson that we have been compelled to swallow during these times is that we are all weak, vulnerable, conquerable and in that, we have realised that we are one. That realisation is enough for the soul to be nourished. When we feel one with those around us, with nature, we act in ways that help and support our own being.
Tips to deal with an irregular sleep cycle:
1. Plan a sleep-wake schedule that matches your regular work hours
2. Exercise to stay fit and get adequate sleep
3. Eat healthy and at regular intervals
4. Avoid spending unhealthy hours on social media
5. Manage stress by working on it by keeping yourself busy, talking to people close to you or seeking help
Inputs by Kavita Mungi, mental health counsellor