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Digital well-being in the age of coronavirus

Dr Prakriti Poddar

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The coronavirus pandemic has made social distancing the norm and the majority of us are becoming increasingly dependent on digital technology to navigate our way through our daily lives. As we are being pushed towards an uncertain future, we are spending more time online to connect, work, shop and keep ourselves informed and entertained.

While a digitally-mediated daily life can keep you safe from the risk of infection, too much exposure to it can harm your mental health. A lot of awareness has been raised about the impact of exposing oneself to negatively hyped social media and news. The more information you receive, the more insufferable the pandemic becomes. We have seen people feel hopeless and helpless as a result of all the information they absorb, and unfortunately, which seeps in to become deeper mental health issues.

Dealing with digital addiction

 Fake news and conspiracy theories can induce fear and fear leads us to fight, freeze, fold, or take flight. If you are one of the fighters, the information on the digital feeds will help you take action to serve others, hence, limiting your online time. If you react by taking flight, you may minimise the understanding of the situation and label all those people who err on the side of precaution as completely hysterical and not abide by safety rules, thus, putting yourself and others in danger.

 If you freeze at this, then you will lock yourself down, and if you fold, you will need support to uplift your mental health.

It is important to keep your digitalactivity healthy during this outbreak. Let us take a look at three evidence-based tips for a healthy digital diet:

 Take control: It is natural to feel powerless and scared in the face of a pandemic, but you can use digital technology to regain control and give yourself a degree of autonomy over your life. This is critical as having control promotes emotional wellbeing. So, think about ways in which you can use digital technology to help you do it. It can be something as simple as using the technology at your disposal to make plans, manage your schedule, organise activities with others, and even do online shopping where you get to exert greater choice. The key is to use digital technology actively instead of letting yourself get guided passively by algorithms. Think of digital technology as a tool that allows you to extend your autonomy and makes it possible for you to develop strategies to cope better. For instance, you can consider limiting passive screen time and balance passive viewing with more interactive screen time — playing educational games, making YouTube videos, coding a website — where you are in control.

Nurture relationships: While social distancing is good for your physical health, the isolation is not good for your mental wellbeing. Use this opportunity to digitally connect with your old friends, family members or acquaintances that you somehow lost touch with. Nurture your existing relationships by scheduling regular chats online and using digital devices to spread positive news, express gratitude to the people serving us and help others. For instance, you can order food and groceries online for friends, family members and neighbours who are not digitally enabled. Helping others can give your life more purpose and allay your anxieties. Organise group chats and regular virtual meet-ups — seeing a familiar face, even on a phone screen, can be reassuring. Use this time as an opportunity to rebuild affiliations with people who matter.

Be smarter: Our wellbeing is also influenced by our competence — our ability to rise above challenges, take smart decisions and experience a sense of achievement and degree of success. Use this opportunity to take online courses, learn new skills, and do things that engage you. Consider using digital technology to look after your body and mind during this period of confinement. You may not be able to hit the gym, but you can use digital reminders and prompts to move and exercise more, even if you are confined inside a restricted environment. Consider downloading an app for nutrition, exercise, mindfulness or relaxation. Think about how you can use digital technology to improve your exercise, sleep and diet regimens. Also, use digital technology to be smarter about your information diet. Use fact-checking services to counter conspiracy theories, unfounded rumours, urban legends, and misinformation. Reduce information intake to one or two trustworthy sources. Most importantly, get your information from reputable sources instead of regurgitating what you read on social media.

The way forward

Our increased digital dependency can be beneficial to our wellbeing instead of being a hazard. We need to use our screens positively and promote greater autonomy, connectivity and competence. To be balanced, schedule your downtime, your off-screen time, your exercise time and your fun time. This will form the core of your emotional wellbeing and hold you in good stead.

Remember not to reach for your phone as soon as you wake up. Give yourself the time to get ready, eat, and then get to your device.

We should use technology to increase our independence, further our wellbeing, and harness our inner potential. Doing so will not only help us get through the pandemic but will also ensure that we come out stronger.

The writer is an expert and entrepreneur in mental health, Director at Poddar Wellness Ltd and Managing Director at the Poddar Foundation.

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Nation

Police to arrest ex-students of Bhopal college over girl’s obscene video

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Police in Bhopal have arrested two former students of an Industrial Training Institute (ITI) for shooting an obscene video of a female college student and blackmailing her.

Rahul Yadav and Khusboo Thakur were arrested by police under Section 383 (extortion) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and pertinent provisions of the IT Act, while Ayan, another suspect, has ran away.

“A 19-year-old girl went missing from her house on Friday.The parents filed a police complaint and the police traced her at Bhopal railway station after a few hours. When police registered the girl’s statement, she informed that on September 17, there was a cultural programme in the college on the occasion of Vishwakarma Jayanti. She was changing her clothes in a washroom where Khushboo shot her obscene video,” said additional deputy commissioner of police (ADCP), Rajesh Bhadoriya.

“The girl said three students showed the video to her boy friend and demanded ₹10,000 and also threatened to circulate it on social media. The girl’s parents worked in the ITI and she was afraid of public insult of her parents so she decided to run away,” said ADCP.

At the police station in Ashoka Garden, the cops filed a first information report (FIR).

Police are looking into the matter to determine whether she is the only girl experiencing this trauma or if it also happened to other girls, according to the police officer.

The three former students used to spend much of their time at the institution and harass students, according to the college students who reported them to the police.

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Nation

Lalu Yadav criticises Amit Shah for attacking Bihar govt

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A day before he meets Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, RJD President Lalu Prasad Yadav on Saturday criticised Home Minister Amit Shah for his attack on the Bihar government coalition and emphasised the need for Opposition unity.

“Amit Shah has utterly lost his mind.  His administration has been overthrown in Bihar. The BJP will also lost in 2024. That is why he is sprinting there (Bihar) and speaking of jungle raaj. What did he do when he was in Gujarat,” Yadav said.

The former chief minister of Bihar said that “Jungle raaj” was present in Gujarat when he was there.

On Sunday evening, Kumar and Yadav will probably meet Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress.

We are making every effort for Opposition unity,” Yadav, who has been battling poor health, said, adding this will the agenda of their meeting.

The Bihar chief minister was slammed by Shah on Friday for allegedly betraying the BJP and attempting to advance his prime ministerial ambitions while “sitting in the laps of Congress and RJD.”

At a rally in Purnea, Shah predicted that the Kumar-Lalu Prasad jodi would be destroyed (soopda saaf) in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections and that the BJP will win a majority by itself in the state assembly elections the following year.

In response, Yadav said, “Amit Shah bilkul paglaye hue hain” ( Amit Shah is absolutely insane).

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Lifestyle & Entertainment

Falguni Pathak remarks ‘Wish I could take action’ over Neha Kakkar’s ‘Maine Payal Hai’ remake

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The renowned singer Falguni Pathak is not happy with Neha Kakkar’s recreation of her iconic song ‘Maine Payal Hai Chhankai’. She said in a recent interview that neither the producers nor Neha made an effort to get in touch with her prior to or following the release of the new song, ‘O Sajna’. The veteran singer also said that she wished to take action against the Neha Kakkar song but was unable to do so since she did not have the song rights.

Neha has come under fire from several fans for ‘ruining’ the original. The original singer of the 1990s hit song, Falguni, reshared fan posts on Instagram Story, subtly criticising Neha’s rendition of the song titled “O Sajna.”

“How long you can go Neha Kakkar? Stop ruining our old classics for us. Falguni Pathak is the OG. Stop with it already,” one of the posts on Falguni’s Instagram Story read.

The actors Vivan Bhatena and Nikhila Palat were featured in the original song, which was launched in 1999. At a college festival, the song was performed as a puppet show. The song was a resounding hit. Recently, the updated version was unveiled.

The music video for “O Sajna” features Dhanashree Verma and Priyank Sharma. “O Sajna” was written by Tanishk Bagchi, who is renowned for reinventing classic Hindi melodies.

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Health & Wellness

Kashmiri ASHA worker serves as inspiration by donating blood 28 times

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A 32-year-old woman named Bilqees Ara, an ASHA worker, has donated blood 28 times since 2012. She has served as an inspiration to others across the nation.

Bilqees, who is from the Handwara Tehsil in the Kupwara area of North Kashmir, stated that she understands the “importance of blood”.

She said that by donating a pint of blood, she not only saves a precious life but an entire family.

She began donating blood in 2012 and has since given 28 pints.

She expressed her gratitude and pride at being the saviour of so many patients in the Kashmir valley.

I’ve seen people cry helplessly as they try to get blood to save their loved ones, but I’m proud of myself because I’ve arranged blood for them as well. “I felt an inner joy after that,” she said.

In Kashmir, she is known as the “Blood Woman of Kashmir”.

She is a registered blood donor. Whenever a need arises, the officials at the Blood Bank at Handwara hospital call her and, within the shortest span of time, she makes herself available to donate blood.

Women should come forward and do this as there is nothing to be afraid of. This is to be done for society, she said. She also said that she wondered who else would do it if she refused.

If a person has blood and courage, why can’t he give it to someone else in a time of need? She asked.

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News

Hollywood star John Cusack supports ‘Bharat Jodo Yatra’, says solidarity to all anti-fascists

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Hollywood star John Cusack on Saturday showed his support to the Congress’s Bharat Jodo Yatra, a campaign to reach out to the general public. Cusack tweeted: “Indian parliament member Rahul Gandhi is walking to Kashmir from Kerala.” This was written weeks after the march, which intends to go over 3,500 kilometres across the nation, began.

Expressing his support for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra on Saturday, Hollywood actor Cusack stated that he stands in solidarity with “anti-fascists everywhere.”

Cusack, the leading man in blockbusters like “Serendipity,” “High Fidelity,” “Con Air,” and “2012,” has been outspoken on social media regarding a number of international issues.

Jairam Ramesh, a Congress’s spokesman, shared the post of the Cusack’s tweet.

The actor posted on Twitter that Indian parliament member Rahul Gandhi is walking from Kerala by foot to Kashmir. Cusack responded to a user who complimented him for backing Gandhi’s cause by saying, “Yes – solidarity – to all anti fascists everywhere!” The actor has previously offered support to the farmers’ and students’ demonstrations against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and three agriculture legislation, respectively.

Rahul Gandhi began his march from Kanyakumari, the southernmost point of the nation’s mainland, and he is currently travelling through the southern states. A verbal battle between the BJP and the Congress has been ongoing since the yatra got underway.

Gandhi has often emphasised that the Yatra is a fight against the BJP’s poor leadership. He has brought up concerns including unemployment, inflation, and women’s safety. However, following numerous polling failures over the past few years, the party is also focusing on the 2024 national elections during the mass contact programme.

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News

Assam CM’s three-day Chintan Shivir to start today

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Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma

The three-day Chintan Shivir, which is due to start today, will be attended by the Cheif Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma as well as all other ministers and senior secretaries of various state government agencies.

The state administration will talk about the departments’ ongoing activities during the brainstorming session. In the shivir, it is probable that the departments’ five-year plans and road map will be prepared.

In August of this year, a cabinet meeting presided over by the CM decided to organise the three-day shivir.

Around 2 pm, the Chief Minister of Assam will attend the Chintan Shivir’s opening session.

All of the BJP’s ministers and legislators from its ally party are likely to attend the Chintan Shivir.

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