Stay at home in COVID-19 Pandemic

Another week, or couple of weeks, that lockdown will be relaxed. There are memes doing rounds, jokes dispelled in social media about how the sea of humanity will surge outdoor, as the gate/door of our house opens out to the outside world.
What happened from the time when we lived in caves, then thatched dwellings and then solid homes to keep us safe from the outside world of wild animals, rough weather and possible robbers and muggers.
It’s going to be almost 5 weeks into national lockdown in COVID 19 pandemic which has crippled the world, half of humanity under lockdown, sparing no class, caste or religion.
The governments are going in a tizz with arguments for and against the lockdown and the dreaded part is how will humanity respond when the lockdown lifts, even if in graded fashion.
I took a small sample of urban middle class adults, acquaintances out of my contact list. I asked them why are they waiting for the lockdown to end? The survey was alarming. 70% of the reasons to step out were non-essential. Some reasons were: Need a change, fresh air, catch up with friends, hangout habit, window shopping, to get out of the feeling of being trapped in our home. To understand non-essential, let’s first define essential. Essential means reason which caters to one’s health, safety and livelihood.
What can be the personality profile of people who will rush out for non essential work, as and when the lockdown is eased. Are we one of them?
 Such people are hyperactive, and restless kinds. They need some newness, some action, some movement happening most of the time. They are often fidgety, unable to sit in one place for a span of time. Outdoor gives them a feeling of space and openness.
 Such people are maladjusted in their relationships at home: In the lockdown, all family members are compulsed to stay in close proximity for many weeks. People who have difficulty getting along with one or more members, look forward to getting a respite even if temporarily from the strained relationship.
 Such people are anxious personality. They have repressed issues. They have deep problem (financial or personal security, negative thinkers) which are not resolved and tucked deep into their subconscious. They learn to calm their anxiety, even if temporarily, by making a round trip to the neighborhood market.
 Such people need the external validation for self esteem: They want to meet their clique, to establish their social worth. They indulge in getting together over meals, or movie or kitty parties to find their self worth, externally.
 Such people are emotionally lonely: We all know that we can be surrounded with people and still feel lonely. They are unable to form meaningful bonds with people; as if searching for the undefined and unknown. They are seeking perfection in people which is a mirage.
 Such people may want to escape, seek respite from an oppressive environment like domestic abuse: COVID 19 counseling helplines are flooded with such distress calls. The High Court has issued orders to take up such cases on priority basis.
 Such people indulge in just a habit-forming activity with no clear reason as to why they are wanting to go out. ‘Just like that’ are the habituated people.
 Lastly, such people want to satiate any addiction to substance like cigarettes, cannabis, alcohol or any other kind of drug. Some of them want to hang out in market place to ‘cheer themselves’.

The reason that we are making ‘staying at home’ such a big deal, and analyzing it like a psycho-social malfunction is because COVID 19 is here to stay. We need permanent changes in our coping mechanism which cannot for long be imposed by the government, but has to be self-imposed and self-disciplined.
If we qualify for even one of the above situations, it’s time to write the ‘new normal’, which is learning coping skills to overcome and manage our psychological vulnerability by meditation, taking counseling, getting into rehab, on-going therapy, and building self worth by achieving realistic goals ( careers, hobbies)
“There’s nothing like staying at home for real comfort”- Jane Austin
Each one of us is entitled to that one part of our home which gives us that comfort. We have to work towards creating that part, that corner.
“I have learnt that even the smallest of house can be a home”- Henry David Thoreau
Space is subjective. Each member of the home is like the bricks that make the home.
“There is no school equal to decent home, no teacher equal to virtuous parents”- Mahatma Gandhi
So let’s revisit our safe haven- Our home. Let’s re-do its interiors and exteriors for times to come. COVID or no COVID.
Life takes you to unexpected places, Love brings you home.

( The author is a Noida-based Practicing Psychologist, Licensed Practitioner NLP and Quantum Hypnotherapy. She can be reached through [email protected])