Last year, 2021, I signed up for #CauseAChatter, when I was told by Team Blogchatter that most of my blogs submitted under blogrolls qualify for the same. I stuck with the programme all through the year. Come 2022, January brought with it some great changes and some not so great ones as well. The first great thing was the certificate for being part of the CauseAChatter for 2021.
I have been offered a job in a start-up overseeing their HR operations, which is a huge thing for someone who has had a very non-traditional career path. I also decided that I wanted to pursue Masters (Post Graduation) now, 2+ decades after I completed my undergraduate studies. I was really hoping that the COVID situation will ease out with some semblance of normalcy returning into our lives.
Unfortunately, Omicron seemed to have a different idea altogether. Slowly cases are rising which has brought online schools back in full force. Even the glimmer hope that a form asking parental consent on sending older children to regular offline school just got squashed. 2+ years of online school, work from home (WFH) alternating between with and without domestic help, based on the circumstances, have had their toll on my mental health.
I was curious to know if I was the only one facing burnout and talked to some friends and found that many were going through a similar phase. It got me thinking. Here are some things that I deduced from my discussions with peers and friends on what contributes to this burnout:
- Stunted Social Life: Restricted movements and the social distancing protocols of COVID appropriate behaviour leaves us all stuck indoors with just our family, and a few friends/neighbours who live close by our place. This is even more so when we are not in a financially privileged position to hire a private transport from our place to someone else’s place far from home.
- Stunted Vacations: Vacations are the time to unwind. Irrespective of ones’ financial prowess, we would have one family vacation at least every 2 years away from our place of residence to enjoy the few days of change of routines or the lack of it, excitement of exploring a new place (small village or huge city), or just a change of scenery to break the monotony of life. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been possible for obvious reasons.
- Virtual Workplaces: While there are benefits of virtual workspaces that help in keeping the continuity of work and by extension, business, and economics, it is still not an option for all. Also, the virtual workspace, I think is stunted as well, especially with respect to human interactions as it lacks the decorum that an actual workplace can provide.
- Stunted Learning for Children: Children thrive with social interactions that involve all their senses. Online learning has them glued to the screens and a chair with no friend close by to snicker or bicker. The attention span that was already very low, to begin with has become almost negligible due to the monotony of the online classrooms.
- Lack of personal time and space for primary care givers: For homemakers like me who hustle between homemaker and consultant/businesswomen at our convenience (read when the rest of the family is out and about, away from home), the pandemic lifestyle has been the toughest, catering to the demands of the family bringing order among the chaos that COVID brought into the daily routines by completely throwing it off track. Despite the repeated reassurance given by experts that the pandemic will soon move into the endemic mode, the light at the end of the tunnel is still not visible, especially considering the lack of change in human behaviour that is exhibited by leaders and common people alike.
Usually, when I write, I like to make sure that I also give a few pointers on how to address the issue at hand. While I do know I can give some, for the above-stated problem too, I am not sure they are enough to address the problem of burnout that people like me (Indian women, who are the unopposed primary caregivers with no choice to play the role of a secondary caregiver) are going through. And this burnout is not restricted to just people like me. It has affected every individual irrespective of age, gender, economic status and other such associated identifiers. The online space is also not safe enough to discuss our issues and vulnerabilities without a troll or a few dropping in and adding to our already overflowing basket of woes. With such a bleak picture, a deep sigh escapes me more often than usual and I find myself wishing fervently for the end to be near, for everyone's sake.
The need for safe spaces for everyone to be able to share their vulnerabilities, pain points, and frustrations has become a priority. Unfortunately, as a race, we humans have still, not even taken the first step to understanding ourselves and the biases that drive our behaviours and life choices. We are a long way from creating such safe spaces for healthy sharing and the probable start of beneficial discussions that can initiate a change.
I believe that miracles are a result of small intentional actions that would eventually drive a tsunami-like shift in our behavioural patterns, that feels like a miracle. Let us all together pledge to do our share of small intentional actions such as being self-aware, observing what is happening around us, and acting when we see someone in need of a break at least when they ask for it, shifting our focus from excellence to consistent progress (even is student performance – as parents and educators), and more.
Do share your thoughts on what other small intentional actions can bring about the tsunami-like wave that looks like a miracle?