Social distancing – how easy or difficult is it? And is there a bigger problem than mere indiscipline?

The sight of policemen constantly going after people who are forming groups and ‘socializing’ during these times of lockdown is quite common in a lot of localities across the country. There is a lot being said about people’s callous attitude, disobedience and unawareness of the gravity of the situation.

However, I truly believe that this is a much deeper problem than mere disobedience and callousness. It is impossible that people wouldn’t be aware of the seriousness of the disease or the current situation; it is all over the news and on every social platform. What then could be the reason behind such behaviour?

In my opinion, there are two important reasons:

1) Over-proximity to near and dear ones

Many relationships in these times have stood the test of time and have been categorized as ‘successful’ not because of effort but because of status quo; because the family members are busy in their own lives, and usually come together to spend limited time with each other. In such a scenario, there is no scope for confrontation, having deeper and longer conversations if one doesn’t want to have them. But now, the scenario is totally different. With social distancing becoming mandatory, proximity with family members has become inevitable, making the distance in the relationship/s visible. Change is uncomfortable, and we seek to distract ourselves or avoid situations that require us to change. One of the ways of doing this is by taking the ‘familiar’ route of socializing with friends and acquaintances, in order to feel better. Once we are aware of the real problem, we can make a conscious choice – of facing it in the eye and dealing with it (through appropriate communication and action) or continue to avoid the situation by finding ways and means to do so, which could have hazardous consequences in the long run.

2) Discomfort being with self

There are loads of posts and articles out there that talk about the importance of self-love, of being self-aware, of spending time with self, etc. People hit the ‘like’ button for these posts, but when it comes to practice, usually nothing’s done. The prime reason is, we are usually never taught the importance of delving deeper within ourselves, knowing our deeper emotions, celebrating our journey so far etc. Many a times, we feel ashamed to admit to some of our shortcomings even to ourselves. We feel anxious of the consequences of thinking about our past mistakes and the emotional turbulence that comes with it. It’s easiest to blame another person, the society, the weather, the virus for our reactions, rather than delving deeper within ourselves and understand what’s going on. So, we end up doing just that. We either binge-watch movies and series, or spend hours on video calls with friends, or sink ourselves into office work and household chores – and do whatever it takes to stay away from ourselves. But guess what, sooner or later, each one of us is going to be pushed to the wall where we will be left with no option but to ask those uncomfortable questions to ourselves, and befriend ourselves in order to deal with the external world. Therefore, why not begin today? It might help us adhere to the social distancing guidelines laid by the government too…

Finally, I would like to say – make a conscious choice… Deal with the real problem, and as a consequence, you will be able to successfully distance yourself socially and make the lockdown period fruitful!

Nine tips to be a consistent finisher

We all love that feeling of accomplishment that we experience when we complete the task that begin. But at times we struggle to finish the task. For some of us it becomes a string of tasks that are unfinished. How to tackle this difficulty? What is the reason for it? Is it lack of hard work? Inability? Or the circumstances outside your control? How do you break this habit once and for all? Here are some points that you may want to contemplate on…

  • Observe your past pattern: If you often tend to leave tasks incomplete, there could be some common factors, both internal and external, that might be coming in your way of finishing the task. Identify those factors. Identify how many of those factors can be controlled and how many of them are not within your control.
    Know your limits: Know your strengths and limitations. Is the task that you have taken up within your capacity of completion? What would you rather have- a half finished dream or a finished task? Taking up a lot of different tasks will derail the train completely.
  • Remember, time cannot be managed: Time remains constant, you can only align the work that you wish to do according to the time available. Keep realistic deadlines for the work. Being overambitious will not help you reach the deadline faster. Do you have a history of thinking that things will take less time than they actually do? Build a fudge-factor into your estimates.
  • Do not just work hard; work smart too: Sometimes, thinking through the tasks and using certain strategies will help you work smarter and complete the tasks successfully.
  • Plan in advance: Plan not just the task but also the time and effort required for it. Prioritize if you have many tasks.
  • Set goals: Long term as well as short term goals can be laid down. Progress should be checked regularly. After you’ve made a little progress, revisit your expectations and adjust them as needed, so that you do not feel disappointed later.
  • Small does not mean unimportant: At times, we consider a task to be less important because it feels like it can be taken care of in a jiffy. However these are the most likely tasks that will be pushed to the backburner and not completed. For example, we easily forget to take our medicines although it is still very important. Learn to finish those small things too. Allocate time for seemly small tasks and follow the schedule. If you’re washing the dishes, avoid leaving that greasy, soiled pan until morning. Fold all your clothes rather than leaving some of them for later. Clean the entire room. Pay all of the bills. Run the full 3 miles you planned to run.
  • Are you a procrastinator? Procrastination, pushing ahead a task, can also happen once you have started working on something. We tend to push it ahead because we don’t like the task or we feel it can be done later on, or feel confused, or bored to work on it. Thus we always end up working on it at the last moment and are often unable to finish it. Plus, it stays on our mind all throughout, because we know that we have to come back to it sooner or later. The earlier you finish it the faster it will be out of your sight and mind. Sometimes we also push away a task because we want to do it perfectly and not make any mistake. However this need can hamper our progress rather than help us reach our goals.
  • Visualize the finish line– Imagine yourself starting the tasks, taking them to completion, and the satisfaction you get after the accomplishment. The power of visualization acts as a powerful motivator. Reward yourself for completing the task, however small it may be.

Being a finisher is a habit as well as skill. Hone your skill and keep practicing it. Wish you all the best!

Being wise and maintaining your wellbeing during trying times

The entire world is going through a tough phase, with the corona virus spreading rapidly. While it is important to be aware that the corona virus is a grave issue, it is equally essential that you focus on taking necessary precautions without panicking. There are a number of posts and articles already doing the rounds on social media, talking about how you can make the most of the sudden time that has freed up for us. Here are a few pointers that I would like to highlight, for your benefit.

Distribute time wisely

Instead of overindulging in any kind of entertainment or recreation, be wise in distributing your time, by investing time in your physical, emotional and spiritual wellness. Restrict your screen time, so that you are not consuming too much of internet broadband. Remember, work from home is anyway going to have way too many people using the internet, thus impacting the speed etc. Also, if you do not restrict your screen time, you won’t realize how each day will go past with you just binge-watching shows on Netflix and going through memes on social media. Be mindful rather than regretting later for not utilizing your time optimally.

Do not end up overworking

It can be difficult to disconnect from work, especially if you are a workaholic, because you may start working right from the time you wake up until the day ends. Since you do not need to physically step out of office and travel to get back home, it is highly possible for you to get so engrossed in work that you lose track of time. This can be detrimental if it becomes an everyday affair, because you will be left with no time for any social interactions, physical activity or self-development.

Consciously make time for wellness

Physical fitness

In order to invest in physical wellness, you can cook healthy meals and consume them on time, which you may not have the luxury of doing while at work. There are loads of exercises that you can do at home. You can either refer to YouTube for ideas or get creative by yourself. If you have children at home, you can involve them in the workouts too. You may decide to venture out for walks or runs at your own discretion, because the government and medical authorities are recommending that you preferably stay indoors. If you do decide to venture out, make sure you take necessary precautions and adhere to the guidelines framed by the authorities.

Emotional Wellness

Your emotional wellness can be hampered during such times. Being at home all the time could lead to frustration. Looking at the news could make you feel anxious. Reading about negligent citizens can make you feel angry. And all these emotions can badly affect your mental health. Spend time relaxing your mind. Read books or watch videos that help you deal with the emotional disturbances. Seek counselling from professionals that are available for consultation virtually. You can even use this time to take an online course, work with a coach for developing skills, give time to your hobby (that can be pursued indoors) … all of these will contribute to your wellbeing.

Spiritual Wellness

Spiritual wellness can be enhanced further during such times too. Spend time reflecting about yourself. Jot down how your journey has been so far, express gratitude to those who have contributed knowingly or unknowingly to your journey. Set goals that you would like to achieve for yourself, and relook at your life vision. Spend alone time meditating or journaling your thoughts. You will feel an immense sense of fulfilment.

Work to maintain the balance between being a responsible citizen and making the most of the time that has been created because of the corona virus. Stay healthy and remember, this too shall pass.

Spirituality and Mental Health

Spirituality and Mental Health“The spiritual dimension is your center, your commitment to your value system. It draws upon the sources that inspire and uplift you and tie you to timeless truths of humanity.”
– Stephen Covey

Wellness, simplified: 
Wellness includes having a good mental health, high life satisfaction, and a sense of meaning or purpose and emerges from one’s thoughts, actions, and experiences. Today, it is mainly looked at through three dimensions – mind, body and spirit. While we pay enough attention to our physical and mental wellness, most of us, have conveniently side-lined our spiritual well-being.

Spirituality and Spiritual Well-being:
Spiritual well-being is about wholeness, encompassing all the dimensions of life. A spiritually well person is content with life, maintains a control and balance of life, builds positive relationships with others, has a feeling of purpose and meaning, experiences a connection with a power greater than himself, etc. An important benefit of being spiritually well is the ability to accept and grow from the challenges and changes in life.

Spirituality refers to the core dimension of you, your innermost self, with whom you identify, which guides you throughout your past, present and future, and which traces your path from your source to your destination. It is the essence of a human being. Spiritual wellness means the ability to experience and integrate meaning and purpose in life. It focuses on our inner life and its relationship with the wider world. It is enhanced through one’s connectedness with self, others, nature, or a power greater than oneself. For some, spirituality may be synonymous with religion although it is not its only focus. You can incorporate spiritual wellness as an integral part of your daily life irrespective of your ideas and beliefs about God.

Meditation as a means to spiritual well-being:
An important aspect of spirituality is incorporating the habit of meditation. Meditation refers to a physiological state of reduced metabolic activity, thereby eliciting physical and mental relaxation, and enhancing psychological balance and emotional stability. It evokes a sense of calm, controlled thought and concentration. The essence of meditation is to perceive the body, mind and feelings non-critically. It may provide a comprehensive and integrative approach to healing. The practice of meditation has been found helpful in dealing with problems of anxiety, depression, and psychological distress. The minds of the modern generation have become more chaotic and restless, thus making the practice of meditation an essential part of our daily life.

What can you do for your spiritual well-being?
Along with meditation, spiritual wellness requires you to make some small changes in your lifestyle. Inculcating these into your lifestyle can definitely enable you to experience wellness, regardless of whether you meditate or not. Besides, these are habits that will help you become more humane as you progress. These include:
• Taking out time for yourself.
• Doing things that give you joy.
• Practicing forgiveness, compassion and empathy.
• Recognizing, acknowledging and embracing your dark side.
• Knowing that no one is perfect and everyone has their own set of flaws.
While these are general tips for developing a spiritual lifestyle, you can have a more personalized set of guidelines by putting a thought into what you find comfort in, your coping strategies, moments in your life when you felt the most contented and why, etc.

The importance of spirituality is known to most of us. But how many of us actually take the efforts to include it as an integral part of our lives? Spiritual well-being is as essential as physical and mental well-being. These are not any hardcore changes that need to be made. Some minute, healthy habits is all it takes to become spiritually well. It is time we inculcate them and experience LIFE in its best form!

How can you contribute to making your Children’s Days Truly Happy?

children's day“Most things are good, and they are the strongest things; but there are evil things too, and you are not doing a child a favor by trying to shield him from reality. The important thing is to teach a child that good can always triumph over evil.” –Walt Disney

Aptly put by Walt Disney, the above quote clearly defines the core of good parenting. Being a good parent does not mean protecting your children from every hurdle they may stumble upon, instead, it requires you to step aside and make your children independent enough to tackle their problems themselves, coming to you only for help and guidance. However, this stepping aside has to happen gradually, in alignment with a child’s physical, mental and cognitive development.

A child’s development takes place in four stages: infancy, pre-school, middle school and adolescence. Besides the physical and mental growth, these stages also facilitate the growth of the parent-child relationship. With each stage, there is a change in the way children look up to their parents. For a healthy parent-child relationship, it is very essential for parents to change their outlook towards their children as and when required. For example, an infant will require the presence of its parents most of the time, whereas an adolescent will expect privacy from his/her parents. It is necessary for parents to give their children what they need at a given time. However, it doesn’t mean sitting by an infant 24×7 or having no clue about your adolescent’s whereabouts. That is equally unhealthy. While the former will grow into a highly dependent individual, the latter, most often, leaves you with a “spoilt brat”.

Remember, children are highly influenced by their surroundings. Hence, providing a healthy environment for the child is as important as giving it food. A house with very strict restrictions will lead to the child breaking rules, a household which survives on conflict and constant quarrelling will give rise to child having an aggressive behaviour, a pampered kid will always remain a “mama’s boy”, an ignored child will thrive for acceptance and fall victim to bouts of self-doubts. However, a child who is given adequate love, encouraged to follow his dreams, brought up in a family with healthy relations and taught to deal with his own problems will succeed with flying colours.

A classic example of childhood environment affecting adult behaviour is the English TV show F.R.I.E.N.D.S. We have a great variety of characters having very different childhood experiences, in a way affecting their adult behaviour all the same. There is Ross, the pampered kid, who thinks he is the best at everything; Monica, extensively ignored and bullied as a child, who strives for acceptance from her parents; Chandler, who saw his parents split up when he was merely 9 years, thrashing all his beliefs in love, and making him afraid of commitments; and finally Rachel, who was brought up with so much pampering that she turned out highly dependent on her father for almost everything. Well, these guys met each other and made their lives into a ‘happily ever after’ by helping each other. But it is our responsibility as parents to ensure that no child goes through such a harsh childhood.

This Children’s Day, let’s take a step towards understanding the needs of our children and providing a healthy environment for their growth.



howsuperstitUNESCO has declared 10th November as ‘World Science Day’ with a goal of highlighting the importance of science in society and engaging the wider public in discussing contemporary issues related to science. The Indian Constitution has included the development of Scientific Temper as a fundamental duty of every citizen.

Today, after so many years since the establishment of our Constitution and despite the enormous increase in educational facilities in India, the burning question remains, “have we really developed a scientific outlook in our daily lives?” The answer is definitely a NO. Why am I being so certain in my answer, you ask? Think about it… almost all of us get really freaked out if a black cat cuts our path while on our way to work. To top it, if you have an important meeting scheduled, you will be almost certain that it won’t go as planned.

This is just one of the many superstitions that we are conditioned to believe in, probably, from the day we are born! There might have been a reason as to why our forefathers held a strong belief in them, but today, with the advancement of science, these beliefs just sound ridiculous and make absolutely no sense. Moreover, these beliefs stand as a major hurdle in the completion of our day-to-day activities. Considering the previous example, just the thought that the meeting won’t go as planned will hamper your performance, actually leading to a bad meeting. This acts as a reinforcer, strengthening your belief in that superstition. Given a careful consideration, you will realize that it wasn’t the cat but you who were actually responsible for the failed meeting.

Superstitions act as an external locus of control, making them a very reliable source to blame, rather than acknowledging our own mistakes. Evidently, this hampers the development of the individual as well as the society. Thus, it becomes extremely important to develop a scientific temper and knowing where to draw the line between logic and belief.

The first step towards having a scientific outlook is to develop skepticism, i.e. inculcating the habit of questioning things, making sense of it, and then deciding if it is a reliable piece of information instead of blindly accepting it as a fact. It also requires you to have an open mind and welcome constructive criticisms and suggestions, thinking of it as a scope for development, accepting them and working on them. An essential tool for a scientific mindset is to accept the fact that there are infinite perspectives to any given situation and every individual is free to accept the one that aligns with his/her line of thought. Forcing your opinions on others or accepting others’ opinions just to be a part of the majority should never be an option.

‘Scientific thought and its creation is the common and shared heritage of mankind.’ This World Science Day, let’s make a pledge to live by these words of Abdus Salam, a famous theoretical physicist, and start by taking small baby steps towards inculcating scientific temper in our daily life.

Friendship Day Special

Friends come in all shapes and sizes! 😊 Some of us have so many friends that we do not bother keeping count, while some may have a handful of close friends, and some others may have just that one friend. We may have some friends since childhood, some that come in at different walks of life and move on, some that we have a good time with, some that we share our hearts with…

All of this is known to us, so what is the point of this post, do you ask?


The point is – how many of us have a ‘Kalyan Mitr’? A friend who is a well-wisher in the true sense of the word, the literal translation of this Hindi word is ‘wellbeing friend’. A Kalyan Mitr is someone who only wants the best for you, and will have no qualms about standing up against everyone, and sometimes even against you, in order to help you see the bigger picture, for your wellbeing. The friend could be a family member, a cousin or a colleague, but is a friend above all! Here’s a quick checklist for you to assess whether you have a friend who falls into the ‘Kalyan Mitr’ category.

A Kalyan mitr

  • Loves you unconditionally!
  • Accepts you for what you are, even though they may make suggestions from time to time
  • Does not always agree with you
  • Never thinks twice about arguing with you
  • Feels happiest whenever you succeed, no matter how small or big the success may be
  • Does not compare your life with theirs
  • Does not feel insecure about your friendship
  • Always has an opinion
  • Respects your choices and decisions
  • Encourages you, and never belittles you
  • Is liberal with appreciation and compliments, that matter to you not just superficially but also at a deeper level
  • Never walks out of your life permanently, even though they may temporarily do so
  • Neither judges, nor worries about being judged by you. Are you thinking, ‘friends never judge’? Sorry to disappoint you, but many do!

So, now that you have this checklist, this Friendship Day, along with the usual celebration, do ponder and see if you have at least one Kalyan Mitr in your life; and do express your gratitude to them for being a part of your life and making it so unique. The least you can do is express to them how special they are to you.

And also introspect and see if you are, or can be, a Kalyan Mitr to at least one friend, because you may not necessarily be the Kalyan Mitr of your Kalyan Mitr! Have a great Friendship Weekend.


The lesser spoken experiences of Tata Mumbai Marathon

marathon-medalIt’s 10 days since the biggest day for runners! 21st Jan 2018 – the Tata Mumbai Marathon… My first Mumbai Marathon! What an experience it was! Like most of the other runners have already mentioned in their posts, I too thought that it was a brilliantly organized event. Mumbaikars spread throughout the way cheering for us was what made the run even more fun and memorable. In this post, however, I wish to point out something that I have observed in many runs in the past too, and have wanted to write about, but somehow didn’t get down to doing it. However, this time, I just had to!

I wish to write about the runners! So, we did witness some wonderful runners who cheered those who slowed down, helped them get over their cramps and so on. But there was a whole bunch (and quite a huge number; I don’t know whether it would be right to use the word ‘majority’, because I wouldn’t have my numbers in place to prove that) of runners who didn’t really exhibit one of the core attitudes that one would expect in a runner – EMPATHY! It was so disheartening to see runners mindlessly toss about water bottles merely after having a sip, not just on the road throughout the race, but also straight into the sea, while running on the sealink… What was worse is a bed of banana peels for quite a distance, wherever bananas were distributed by considerate residents of a locality.

Being a counselling psychologist by profession, I’d like to highlight the meaning of the word ‘Empathy’, to start with. Empathy means understanding another person’s situation, and knowing what exactly he or she is going through. The other person could be just about anybody – in the event context, a runner, a volunteer, a member of the organizing committee or anyone cheering the runners.  When tossing a bottle about, what one is thinking about is their PB, their convenience, and what one is absolutely not bothered about is the plight of a fellow runner who may trip and have an injury bad enough to make this their last ever run!

It is easy to blame the organizers for not having enough dustbins, but what is difficult is to take responsibility for the event as a participant. Isn’t it the same attitude that we have towards the government – more specifically towards the Swaccha Bharat Abhiyan?!

For someone like me who ran at the lowest possible speed, it seemed like the garbage by all runners is waiting to welcome me at every kilometre. And you know the best part… the dustbins were pretty empty! I would like to clarify that this blog is not written in a fit of anger. However, this definitely is a point that requires attention. Let us all be more mindful as runners and as citizens of the country, striving to imbibe the attitude of empathy, and make the world a better place! 😊

10 things that have made 2017 really memorable!

  1. My Running stint!

Running is not that difficult, after all… from moving from ‘I only walk’, to I run sometimes, to ‘I run 80% of the time’, I have come a long way… And each run, whether at an event or regular training, is an experience that comes with a lesson. I’ll hopefully write about each lesson separately. There were some runs that etched a mark in my mind. Two of the runs in particular taught me lessons that have a direct correlation with life.

Aarey run – my first hill run- taught me: whenever there is an uphill, there will always be a downhill, so whenever you realize that you are having to push yourself really hard, know that the downhill slopes are just around the corner.

Gorai run – my second hill run – taught me: whenever there is an uphill, there isn’t necessarily a downhill. Therefore, have your strategies in place to deal with the unevenness, rather than cribbing that there should have been a balance.

  1. My first Half Marathon

I did my first half marathon this year, at the Indian Navy Half Marathon held at BKC in November. It was an experience that was special, had me feel a number of emotions all through the race, and a feeling of accomplishment and immense joy at the end of it! What an amazing memory!

  1. Singing!

I found The Sunday Jammers – a group that reconnected me to one of my first loves – Music! While I had already come back to the world of singing after hibernating for several years, this group made me look forward to the singing sessions. And practise and attempt songs that I hadn’t sung in the past! And last but not the least, introduced me to a new set of friends that I will treasure for life!

  1. My Youtube Channel dedicated to my vocals

I wished to start my YouTube channel where I upload songs sung by me, at least once a week. And here we are… The channel is up and running, before the end of 2017! The name of my channel is Sushma I R, in case you would like to check it out! 🙂

  1. Fitness

Fitness is an ongoing journey, and there is nothing absolutely earth shattering that I discovered in 2017. But yes, what I did discover is that I have grown fitter mentally and physically with each exercise routine, practise run or run event that I did. Physically, because that is the intent of exercise at the end of the day.. And mentally, because every event came with a set of challenges that I slowly but successfully combated, making me stronger mentally too!

  1. Zumba

It took me a while to decide, whether I wanted the ZIN certification to stay or go.. And I had to admit my love for this fitness form.. The fun and madness is something that is unique to Zumba, which is why I made up my mind.. Zumba will stay. I will continue to be ZIN!

  1. Lokhandwala Running Club

Running also introduced me to a set of wonderful people that come together under the name LRC (Lokhandwala Running Club). They are some of the most amazing, sweet, humble and fun-loving people I have met. I wish I knew them before I got married and moved out of Lokhandwala… Nonetheless, it’s never too late… I look forward to meeting them at their base and at the various events.


  1. Plank is not as difficult as I thought it is… Practice is all it takes, to make it happen. I managed to go past 2 minutes of plank!


  1. Corporate Counselling

Work-wise, we managed to get a counselling assignment that involves travelling to manufacturing units to offer counselling services to employees. Travelling to far-off places for work is tiring, but extremely satisfying, when you get to see the progress that others are making in their lives


  1. Relationships!

Like food, even relationships have a shelf-life. What is important is how special it was while it lasted, and the memories you made, while it lasted. 😊