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OP-ED: Battling depression in the time of corona

  • Published at 04:49 pm October 20th, 2020
mental health

Divide your tasks up into three bundles

We are passing uncertain times at the grip of the coronavirus epidemic. Many of us have to stay at home in order to save ourselves from the spread of the virus. This time is difficult, especially for those with mental health conditions. We are falling short of strategies to counter depression and anxiety issues. At this time, a new method of managing our mental health issues seems to be of much importance.

The technique I am going to talk about today involves taking all of your daily tasks and dividing them up into three bundles: Daily activities, necessary activities, and pleasurable activities. Daily activities include taking a shower, brushing your teeth, and eating regularly. 

Necessary activities are activities that are truly needed to maintain your life and lifestyle. This may mean tasks from your job. In the time of corona, a lot of us have to work from home. While that has its own challenges in maintaining a workable environment at home, it also has its positive sides as it excludes the daily commute and lessens the chance of a corona infection. 

If one sets aside a certain portion of one’s day for job or career related work, it becomes easily manageable. Many of us are students or do not have a job at this point in time. For them, it is important to find necessary activities to indulge in. Doing some courses on Coursera or EdX could be a good alternative for people who are looking for necessary activities. Even if you don’t do that, you can assign one regular task as a necessary activity and go along with that. 

Pleasurable activities mean activities that give you pure enjoyment. This could be playing cards or ludo with your family members, simply gossiping with them, or spending an enjoyable time with your friends, be it in person or online. Finding simple pleasures in your daily lifestyle can bring a lot of joy to you and could divert your attention from negative thoughts.

Oftentimes when we are depressed, we feel a general unwillingness to do any of our regular activities. Dividing them up into three categories broadly seems like a small task, but it can change loads. It gives you a target to fulfill, an achievement to achieve. It gives you small wins for every day, and we really need those small wins to keep ourselves going. 

Dividing up daily tasks into three bundles leads to a well-spent day, if all categories are touched. Life in the time of the pandemic lacks a certain rhythm. Our circadian rhythm, to begin with, starts getting messed up and so goes our day. Dividing up the daily tasks into these categories can help in bringing back the lost rhythm in one’s life.

This technique is called graded task assignment, and it is a tool of cognitive behavioural therapy. I have used this technique myself and I can attest that it really works. Start by simply finding three things you would like to do the next day and you are already underway. Taking this small step towards self improvement can really help you manage your depression.

Anupam Debashis Roy is a presidium member of Muktiforum. You can reach him at [email protected]

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