More than a year into the pandemic that is recurring in its third wave, many people I talk to say they are experiencing a lack of motivation. I find that in myself too. The overwhelming complaint is that it takes double or triple the time to accomplish basic tasks. “The days of the week blur together."
It seems, for consolation, we are told, "Well this is the late stage of the pandemic and now difficult days should be over soon." Countries are vaccinating at their own pace. But different variants and the fact that a sizable section of people around the world have “vaccine hesitancy” gives us further anxiety.
More than 50% of the Evangelical Christian adults interviewed, according to a survey, didn't have trust in vaccines and, therefore, they wouldn't take it. Four months after getting the vaccine, the president of Argentina tested positive for the Covid-19. Rare and isolated, but enough to exacerbate anxieties.
Besides my personal issues, I’m often surrounded by anxieties related to the unity and strength of the country of my birth, India (Bihar). I worry about the dissension and tension owing to perpetual elections when the country is surrounded by hostile countries like China and Pakistan.
All in all, the pandemic confinement has “left many of us feeling like burned-out husks, dimwitted approximations of our once-productive selves,” according to Sarah Lyall in the New York Times.
After living in the pandemic for a year, we hear cases of loss of health, relationship and income. Many people are still reeling from the death among families and friends. The circumstances vary, the mood is the same.
Experts on "anxiety" have made us familiar with a medical term, "behavioral anhedonia” that a person is likely to develop if he or she is under a prolonged period of chronic and unpredictable stress. Among many negative things, this condition reduces one's ability to take pleasure in activities, thus generating lethargy and lack of interest in work. That obviously has a huge impact on productivity.
How are we supposed to cope? Some people have turned to alcohol or binge eating, others have taken to more meditation or spiritual practices. For me, one hour walk after supper takes some of my anxieties or stress off. Each one of us has to find “pockets of joy” where we should be doing something pleasurable.
Human engagement is all so good, but what when you are alone? If you have a way to immerse yourself in sober music -- either singing, playing or listening -- nothing like that. It has a therapeutic value; I can say from my own experience. Taking care of small kids and pets in the family have also been found to be very fruitful.
In the end, it’s also OK to embrace the notion that one doesn’t necessarily have to be productive during a once in a century period of major global upheaval.
Invent something or come up with a new idea, share them with your family and friends, read and write -- stay happy and engaged in all situations.
Just by being, we should all ride it out together.
Dr. Binoy Shanker Prasad hails from Darbhanga and currently resides with his family in Dundas, Ontario (Canada). A former UGC teacher fellow (at JNU) in India and Fulbright scholar in the USA, he has taught politics and authored conference papers, articles and chapters on Bihar in previously published books in the United States, India, and Canada.
Dr. Prasad administers a Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/OverseasBihari and has sponsored “Aware Citizenship Campaign” at a micro-level in his home-town.