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Health & Wellness

Safe pregnancy as Covid-19 cases surge

As expecting mothers are further stressed due to coronavirus pandemic, doctors and health experts tell us about the risks and the easy escape route.



Being pregnant is hard and expecting a baby during the coronavirus pandemic is harder. Pregnant women normally have to face certain problems throughout their nine months of pregnancy but with the novel coronavirus, that has been exacerbated. The anxiety of ‘to be’ mothers has grown exponentially as they are among the high-risk group and prone to complications, especially during these times.

Covid-19 has been an overwhelming crisis for the healthcare industry and prenatal care presents a major challenge. Amid a hoard of worries disturbing the mental well-being of pregnant women coupled with restricted movement due to the pandemic, Dr Vivek Jain, Director and Head of Department, Neonatology, Fortis Hospital Shalimar Bagh, lists their common concerns. “One of the problems is lack of physical activity and outdoor exposure that has led to various physical ailments and a psychological impact. Another concern is the difficulty being faced by them in visiting the hospital for their regular antenatal checkups and ultrasound examinations. We call them only for the essential visits and cover their doubts through telemedicine,” he says.

Covid & pregnancy complications

Does Covid-19 increase a patient’s risk of complications during delivery? Dr Sweta Jaiswal, Resident (OBGYN), Holy Spirit Hospital, Andheri East, Mumbai, says, “Usually Covid-19 doesn’t increase risk significantly in mild to moderate cases. But in severe cases, urgent termination may be required to relieve pressure on diaphragm due to gravid uterus so that lungs can expand. The patient may require non-invasive or mechanical ventilation. Pregnancy is a hypercoagulable state and due to Covid-19, it further increases. Hence they should be given low molecular weight heparin in moderate to severe cases.”

“With the advancement of technology, many kinds of childbirth and delivery methods are available among which the safest in case of Covid-19 is Normal Vaginal Delivery as it demands shorter hospital stays, lower infection rates, quicker recovery and babies born vaginally have a lower risk of respiratory problems,” adds Dr Sandeep Chaddha, obstetrics and gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospital Noida.

In the meantime, the precautions Covid-positive mothers should take after delivery like mothers should maintain distance from baby except during feeding, before feeding hands to be washed properly, while feeding she should wear a mask and avoid coughing while feeding. In case if symptoms worsen then visit the hospital immediately.

Does virus transmit from mother to foetus?

 Whether or not Covid-19 can be transmitted from a mother who has been tested positive for the virus to the developing foetus is a topic of debate. Research has shown that breastfeeding has to be continued even in Covid-positive mothers as the benefits outweigh the risks.

Breastfeeding mothers (with Covid-19) are advised to continue feeding by taking the usual precautions of masking and strict sanitisation or extracting the breast milk beforehand to avoid infection. Dr Sudeshna Ray, consultant obstetrics and gynaecologist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre, Mumbai, says, “The evidence so far is not conclusive of transmission of the virus from the positive mother to the baby while in the womb. There are some studies which have not shown any transmission while some other small studies have shown a neonatal infection of SARSCOV-2 following birth from symptomatic positive mothers. More robust and longer studies are needed to come to a reliable consensus and research is being carried out for the same. So far, breast milk is not found to be carrying the risk of infection to the breastfed baby but the proximity to the positive mother carries the risk.”

Alternatives are asking a positive mother to feed the baby or using an exclusive, well-sanitised breast pump and accessories to avoid transmission through contact and droplet infection. The asymptomatic Covidpositive mothers can follow general precautionary measures such as washing hands, breasts and nipples well before feeding, wearing a well-fitted mask (only the mother) and avoid coughing and sneezing while feeding and continue to do direct breastfeeding.

With regards to vertical transmission (transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy), the data available so far confirms that transplacental transmission is indeed possible in the last weeks of pregnancy, says Dr Sunil Eshwar, lead consultant, obstetrics and gynaecology, Aster RV Hospital. “Since Covid -19 is a relatively new virus, we are learning about its effects on pregnancy and childbirth as time progresses. Although the results so far have not been proven to be detrimental to the baby, the long-term consequences of this virus on the new born are yet to be researched,” he further adds.

Avoid clinics if not serious, go for telemedicine

With the rising fear among pregnant women to attend the doctor in clinics/hospitals, many are relying on telemedicine for routine checkups and there’s a surge in online consultations. “Since pregnancy itself is considered a physiological immune-compromised state which makes them more vulnerable to infections, it’s desirable to minimise the exposure. A to-be mother comes for a physical consultation when she is assured of the safety measures taken in the hospital,” says Dr Ray.

She adds, “For the birthing process, usually, they have no inhibitions to come to the hospital. The healthcare care providers have to ensure all measures for safety against the virus are strictly in place which needs to be communicated to the pregnant women’s family. Only one relative can stay with the birthing woman throughout her stay these days for as short a period as possible.”

 Anxieties and apprehensions of pregnant women can be largely addressed through telemedicine but the occasional need for physical examinations and tests remain unmet. “Often, they have to make do with suboptimal imaging services from nearby facilities, thus impacting diagnosis and eventual care. We are currently encouraging remote consultations for planning and counselling, thereby avoiding extensive in-clinic interactions,” says Dr Rohit Gutgutia, Medical Director, Nova IVF Fertility East.

Hospitals treating Covid-19 patients seem a risky option for delivery, but single super speciality hospitals can be a better choice. Dr Chaddha says that for new-borns, single speciality hospitals are the best as the chances of contracting coronavirus infection are minimum there. They have advanced technology and infrastructure, to take extra precautions and safety guidelines for both deliveries and taking care of newborns. But if the hospitals take precautionary steps to make the would-be mothers feel safe and at ease in a hospital during delivery, then they can be trusted. Dr Jain says, “Since the pandemic, we have trained our staff to exercise additional measures. We have dedicated OTs and delivery rooms, which are separate from those housing Covid-19 patients. There is rigorous screening as per ICMR guidelines.”

Health & Wellness

Why it is important to focus on mental health today

Priyanka Sharma



Let’s be honest, 2020 has been one of the toughest years for humanity. Across cities, countries and continents, we all have experienced what we call a downturn. With the outburst of Covid-19 pandemic, things haven’t been any better. While the idea of confining ourselves in our houses with our loved ones may sound exciting initially, too much of anything is bad.   From the loss of lives, a persistent health scare, loss of jobs, long working hours, the pressure to manage duties in your personal and professional life, financial crunch, slipping away of opportunities and, most importantly, loss of human connection, the pandemic has hit everyone hard. 

The lack of positive news in mainstream media, finding escapism in social media, isolationism from the outside world coupled with loss of ‘me-time’ inside the house, are enough reasons to make anyone feel on the verge of an emotional breakdown.  

 Don’t ignore the fact that this phase has been tough in terms of emotional and mental wellbeing. With the stigma attached to depression and anxiety in India, the percentage of people willing to seek professional help is rather negligible. I am no mental health expert but these are some of the learnings from the pandemic to keep a happy heart and healthy mind.  –       Practice Meditation: Yes, it is tough to start but it is not impossible. Start with 5 minutes of guided meditation and increase your time as you go along with it. In a world flooded with audiovisual medium, start your day by diving into silence and introspection. Find a YouTube video or a podcast that works best for you.

 –   Get your daily dose of positivity: You cannot go ahead without a little dose of positivity. Even if you are a workaholic, you will not be able to give your best without passion, motivation and positivity. Pick a diary and pen down your thoughts. Listen to yourself. It is okay to feel low or take a break. Notice what is troubling you, evaluate its priority in your life and see if you can look at that particular situation from a different perspective. Even if you are at zen, explore what the world has to offer. Take some time out to hear people share their journey, their experiences and what tactics they use for selfimprovement.

 –    Limit time on social media: It is very tempting to spend your entire day consuming content on social media. Watching your friend’s story, pretty pictures of social media bloggers and browsing through your feed to check up on your friends.It leads to us feeling left out (what the millennials term ‘FOMO’) and comparison. Absorbing all the information on what’s happening in and around the world is wise. But excessive consumption of news tends to make you feel that everything is wrong in the world.

 –    Move your body: Work from home has urged us to spend enormous amount of hours on our work desk. So much so that when we are deeply immersed in work, we ignore what’s happening around us. This affects both mental health and physical health. Squeeze in a quick workout. While it is hard to drag yourself to workout, the sense of accomplishment, which you will experience after it, will make it all worth it.

 –       Find your joy:  Some people feel happy when they dance, paint or cook among other things. Doing what you love will only act as a fuel for you to feel better and never lose sight of what you truly are.

 –    Reach out: When you feel the need to vent out, don’t be hesitant to reach out. Speak to people who understand you and have your best interest in their heart. Instead of keeping all your feelings stored in a tight glass jar, say it out loud. If something is disturbing you, be upfront about it. It’s cathartic. Reach out to a mental health professional if needed.

 –       Give your mind and body enough fuel: Nothing will work until your mind and body are not fully recharged. Make sure to get proper sleep. If you have difficulty sleeping, you can read a book, listen to calming music or even journal before heading to bed. 

Also, pay attention to dietary habits, eat healthy and ensure that you don’t sacrifice on getting enough nutrients because you don’t feel like it. No matter what age you are, where you are in the world, make yourself your #1 priority and take care of your mental health. 

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Health & Wellness

Vitamin D deficiency linked to Osteopenia risk among youth

Know how to correct sunshine vitamin
levels to ward off this condition.



You will be shocked to know that Vitamin D deficiency in younger people can invite a condition known as osteopenia wherein one loses his/her bone mass. Yes, you heard it right! Now, youngsters are falling prey to this condition. Thus, to improve your bone mineral density and live a disease-free life, it is essential to swear by a diet rich in foods loaded with Vitamin D and calcium, exercising daily, and cutting down on alcohol and smoking. On World Osteoporosis Day, we tell you why it is vital to maintain your bone health.  Vitamin D, also known as the ‘Sunshine vitamin’, has essential nutrients that are required to maintain the proper functioning of the body. Did you know that it affects your metabolism, weight, and even how the other organs of your body tend to function? Vitamin D helps in the absorption of calcium, and this can further allow you to strengthen your bones. Hence, this Vitamin will help people to keep diseases such as osteomalacia, osteoporosis, depression, respiratory infection, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and osteopenia at bay. Nowadays, youngsters are increasingly suffering from a condition called osteopenia owing to the lack of vitamin D in their diet and an unhealthy lifestyle. Keep reading to know more about this condition. 

What is osteopenia?

 If your bones start to become weaker and you even tend to lose the bone mass then you may be suffering from osteopenia. This condition kicks-in when your bones become brittle due to the loss of calcium. Furthermore, people suffering from this condition can also get osteoporosis. Those with low bone mass, certain medical conditions like an overactive thyroid or certain medications can have this condition as well. Likewise, not exercising, carbonated beverages, smoking and alcohol can also be the culprits. Also, early menopause and even people having a family history of osteopenia or even those with osteoporosis may suffer from osteopenia. Fractures can occur but it happens when one may get osteoporosis as people with osteopenia may encounter osteoporosis. Remember that osteopenia and osteoporosis are two different conditions, and osteopenia is not as severe as osteoporosis.

 How to prevent this condition?

 • A diet loaded with foods rich in Vitamin D and calcium is recommended. If you suffer from osteopenia then you must include low-fat dairy products, broccoli, salmon, sardine, beans, spinach, orange juice, cereals, soybeans, kale, and mushrooms in your diet. Make sure that your diet is packed with fruits and vegetables to enhance your bone health.

 • Weight-bearing and strength training can be helpful to strengthen the bones, balance, and keep you away from breaking your bones. Opt for walking, jogging, and even climbing steps. You can also do yoga, swimming, and aerobics.

 • Bid adieu to alcohol and smoking. Yes, if you are a habitual smoker or drinker then it is the time to give them up right away! Excessive smoking and drinking can lead to low bone mineral density.

 • Your doctor may also suggest Vitamin D and calcium supplements. Consult your doctor about the right dose as going overboard is a strict no-no. It is important to treat osteopenia at the right time to keep osteoporosis away.  

The writer is an orthopaedic surgeon- joint replacement and sports injuries at Apollo Spectra Delhi. 

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Health & Wellness

How health-tech startups are addressing Covid crisis

Health-tech startups are playing a pivotal role in the time of the coronavirus
crisis, and by leveraging these technologies, users are safeguarding their health.



The healthcare industry in India is being transformed continuously with the latest technology. Health-tech has proved to be game-changers but there is a long way to go in utilising technology further in health-related services. Technologies like big data, machine learning (ML), nanotech, IoT, robotics, 3D printing and artificial intelligence (AI) will prove to be helpful in India’s healthcare system.  

 According to Tracxn data, India’s investments in health-tech amounted to a striking $571 million in 2018. Around 3,225 startups in our country focus on health-tech across divisions such as pharmacy, home healthcare, diagnostics, biotech and more. These include Practo, Clinik Healthcare, MedLife,, PharmEasy, Bione, and CallHealth.

 Certain startups intend to provide better access to healthcare resources. Whereas other health-tech startups like Bhookha Haathi, an AIbased nutraceutical company working in the field of health, helps the users with medico-health assistance. 

Elie is a medical assistant service via app and gadget. It is a software service for providing healthcare services, patented by Bhookha Haathi. Elie is a go-to platform for services including health insurance, hospitals and health companies. Healthcare startups and companies are leveraging available data and technology to boost productivity and efficiency. Case in point: telehealth apps are bridging communication between patients and doctors via video consultations. 

A number of patients are being treated at home via telemedicine thereby leaving precious hospital beds for those who really need it. “Healthcare startups have made it possible for people to stay home and gain access to quality doctors for their non-emergency needs. This has considerably reduced pressure on the already exhausted healthcare infrastructures across the globe and that’s remarkable,” believes Dr Harshit Jain, founder and CEO of Doceree.

 He adds that the role of telehealth startups is crucial at this juncture. People find huge relief in the fact that they can talk to doctors online when visiting them at clinics or hospitals around the time of Covid-19 can expose them to potential health risks. Also, it reduces the burden on healthcare providers.  

 Health-tech startups are also successfully treating life-threatening diseases like cancer. Karan Chopra, founder of Hospido, says, “We are helping cancer patients continue their treatment especially in smaller towns via teleradiology and telemedicine consults. Patients are speaking to leading radiologists for their test reports, doctors for health-related questions, physiotherapists for their exercise sessions, and psychologists for the stress they are undergoing. We also utilise intelligent remote video monitoring to make sure our nurses and doctors are giving the right cancer treatment in smaller cities.”  

 The pandemic has also given a boost to fitness related startups as people have started giving more attention to their health. “Covi d-1 9 has really pushed online health and fitness platforms to top gear. For the first time, all fitness and non-fitness enthusiasts are looking only at the online space for their requirements, in what used to be an offline-dominated industry. The users who never even used to track their fitness activity started doing so as more and more people are getting infused into this ecosystem,” opines Shivjeet Ghatge, CEO and co-founder of StepSetGo.

 “As the pandemic hit, people found themselves restricted to the confines of their houses which limited their movement greatly. We had to come up with innovative ways for the users to be up and about. If the users stay healthy, it will strengthen their immunity – this was our plan. Our application aims to instil healthy habits by making fitness simple, fun and rewarding,” says Ghatge. The app has features such as higher rewards for indoor steps, ‘turbo time’ to remind users to walk every other hour (for 15 minutes) and games which are unlocked by the number of steps. The more you want to play the game, the more you need to walk. 

  Resources for counselling and psychological support are limited and scattered around the country. The need for them was felt even more in the past few months due to the fears associated with Covid-19, anxiety, depression, paranoia and more. However, in recent times, several online counselling platforms have come up, providing easy access to good psychologists from all over the country. “Online counselling companies have supported mental health care during Covid-19 as, undoubtedly, the pandemic is draining people emotionally, resulting in increased anxiety, stress, depression, suicidal tendencies or the fear of losing someone during this time. However, advanced tech platforms using AI, NLP, emotional analytics and data-based mental health counselling programs have helped people fight back their negative feelings,” informs Vivek Sagar, founder and CEO of HopeQure.  

 It is evident that Covid-19 has sparked the demand for digital health-tech platforms. Talking about it, Dr Jain says, “It is a well-known fact that the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector has been a laggard in digital adoption. However, Covid-19 changed the scenario for healthcare businesses and the general public too. The lockdown triggered the use of digital health platforms on the back of concerns around health safety. The adoption has been significant in the pharmaceutical sector too as the pandemic forced sales representatives to stay indoors, leaving brands to establish connect with doctors through the digital medium.” 

   Covid-19 has certainly broken the mental block towards digital health platforms, and this will result in further adoption of digital means in the health and pharma sectors. Even though sharing personal health information on digital health platforms raises doubts about security and privacy and puts a question mark on reliability, the ascent of health-tech startups in India means enhanced overall well-being and efficiency of health-related services. 

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Health & Wellness

Understanding False Negative in a Covid-19 test



When a patient is tested for the Covid-19 virus immediately after being exposed to the threat is when the false negative is likely to occur; that is before the onset of known symptoms. Essentially, the false negative is similar to a wrong test result. This is because it indicates the person is not infected when they are, or that they don’t have antibodies when they do. Similarly, a false positive is an incorrect test result, as it indicates the person is infected when they are not or that they have antibodies when they don’t.

 Typically, for patients who are at a high-risk to virus exposure should be treated as if they have been infected, especially if the symptoms are consistent with Covid-19; this means communicating with patients about the tests’ shortcomings. If a swab misses collecting cells infected with the virus, or if virus levels are very low earlier on during the infection, some RT-PCR tests may produce negative results. Since the Antigen tests return relatively rapid results, they have been widely used among high-risk populations such as nursing home residents, hospitalised patients, and healthcare workers. Previous studies have shown or suggested false negatives in these populations.

 Researchers projected that those patients tested with SARS-CoV-2 within four days after infection were 67% more likely to test negative, even if they did have the virus! When the average patient began displaying symptoms of the virus, the test performed best eight days after infection (on average, three days after symptom onset), but even then had a false negative rate. 

The sooner people are accurately tested and isolated from others, the better we can control the spread of the virus, researchers say. While both false negatives and false positives are undesirable, false negatives run the risk of increasing community transmission should individuals erroneously believe they’re not infectious and fail to take necessary precautions. This can occur whether people have no symptoms, or have symptoms but assume they’re due to something other than Covid-19. 

A patient with symptoms in a hot spot who tests negative may be reasonably assumed to have the virus, while an asymptomatic patient in an area of low transmission who tests negative probably can take comfort in that negative result. Several recent studies have highlighted a significant rate of false negatives, particularly if the test is administered soon after exposure to the virus. In these cases, viral material may not be captured through testing as the virus content in the person is not enough to be picked up. It’s also possible that poor testing technique can miss any virus that is there; poor testing technique contributes too. 

The PCR test for Covid-19 works by detecting genetic material from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19. Genetic material from SARS-CoV-2 should not be confused with the genetic material of other viruses, hence the diagnostic test for Covid-19 should be specific.

 If a person is tested positive for Covid-19, one can be sure that he/she has been infected. The antigen test for Covid-19 is also accurate which seldom gives a false positive.

 To summarise, the time of collection of the sample, viral load of the patient, method of collection, transportation of the sample, and the reagent used while testing, can all alter the results of the reports and cause false negative or false positive reports. It is, however, important to connect with your doctor as soon as you come in contact, visit a hotspot, or start showing symptoms, they will guide you in terms of testing and treatment. 

The writer is director-Internal Medicine at Hiranandani Hospital Vashi, a Fortis network hospital.

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Health & Wellness

To eat or not to eat: healthy festive indulgences



The pandemic sure consumed better parts of the year but it certainly hasn’t taken away our festive spirit. As we enter the first few weeks of October, the air is abuzz with the hope of grand festivities just around the corner. At the heart of these festivities is what brings most of us together – food. Playing a significant role in celebrating traditions and culture as a family, food is a catalyst for good times. From sweet treats to savoury delicacies, nothing beats a holiday feast. However, while these special occasions maybe your onetime annual pass for a little indulgence, it shouldn’t take away all the efforts you’ve made throughout the year to eat well. 

While we anticipate with bated breath the arrival of our favourite festivals, let’s be mindful of the many ways we can participate in the celebrations while also paying attention to our health. 

Here are a few simple tips: 

1. Do not skip meals. It’s a common observation of skipping a meal after you’ve over-indulged in the previous one. This will lead to overeating the next day. Rather keep the next meal low in carbohydrates and high in fibre and protein.

 2. Snack on fruits. A regular eating schedule might get disrupted during festivals and so whenever one finds time in between, fresh fruits should always be the choice! 

3. Choose unsalted nuts and dry fruits over salted ones. If it’s for gifting or your consumption during festivals, be cautious to avoid sodium loaded flavoured nuts.

 4. Avoiding unnecessary tea/coffee/drinks. If you are full or not up for it, just say no to that sugary, empty-calorie drink!

 5. Start and end your day with warm water and a teaspoon of fibre-rich seeds such as flaxseeds or chia seeds.

 6. Follow the one plate rule. Fill your plate once with what you wish to eat and avoid second helping in your plate. This ensures portion control. 

7. Find time to exercise. Walk while you talk, stand more, sit less and be physically active. 

Swap those unhealthy food preparations with some healthy alternatives: 

  •  Instead of frying, bake or steam 
  •  Instead of sugar, add jaggery 
  • Instead of roasting in fat, try dry roasting 
  •  Replace refined flour for whole wheat flour 
  •  Add natural sweeteners like dates, raisins and cashews 

Replace market bought food with homemade food For the sweet-tooth fix opt for healthier options:

  •   Kheer instead of mawa barfi 
  •  Rawa and ghee based mithai instead of ones made with all-purpose flour (maida)
  •   A filling of dates and raisins instead of sugar 
  •  Natural food colours instead of artificial colours For those looking forward to savoury feasts:   Always serve fresh salad in meals 
  •  Keep the menu small to avoid excess calorie consumption
  •   Have chhole, chana masala, rajma, lentils to ensure protein in meals
  •   Cook vegetables in the least amount of fat – one teaspoon per dish should be a rule of thumb
  •   Choose chapatis over puris or bhature

  Choose steamed rice over fried rice l Choose fresh mint coriander chutney over readymade pickles Remember you are what you eat, so a little mindfulness goes a long way. A simple rule to remember while choosing food: ‘Each morsel should be nourishing to the soul and mind’. 

The writer is a clinical nutritionist, dietitian, lifestyle therapist, columnist, health speaker and founder of NutriAl Diet Clinic

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Health & Wellness

An easy-to-follow guide for self-care in Covid times

Self-care can help improve physical, mental and emotional health
by relaxing the senses and keeping spirits high. All this is needed
more than ever now to brush away the pandemic woes.



We are all in the same boat, learning to weather the storm called the coronavirus pandemic. Passing hours at a stretch at home, working and doing chores, is not that easy. Ergo, we are finding ourselves having bouts of stress and anxiety. Being engulfed with uncertainty and constant overthinking are some other side effects of these testing times. It can be difficult to get through the day at times. People are facing issues such as lack of sleep and motivation as well as problems with digestion and skin and hair issues, among others. Feeling burdened with other people’s expectations and comparing oneself with happy faces on social media are also leading to pessimistic thoughts. So, we need to take a break and practise self-care. 

Self-care can mean different things for different people. It can mean working out, nourishing the body with healthy food, pampering the skin with home remedies and face masks, mindfulness, listening to music, reading books, setting achievable goals and other such activities. The purpose is to feel better by listening to what one’s mind and body needs.

 Today, health is one of the top priorities for all, be it mental health or physical health. Self-care is a necessary human activity which is under our control. We all need to take out time from our busy schedules for self-care. A sense of realisation will come only when we start to follow a good schedule which includes self-time or ‘me time’ for at least an hour in a day, suggests Dr Priya Kaul, spiritual life coach and hope creator. She elaborates, “Post getting up in the morning, one should have some ‘me time’, sit in the balcony, and connect with nature and the greenery around. All this time is essential and helps one to relax and rejuvenate.”

 “Always give importance to the small things which one tends to ignore on a daily basis, it is an important factor during self-care. One should let their heart speak and the best way to do it is by often conversing with someone whom they are close to and can connect with.

 Also punctuate the day with mini-meditation. Be aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, the sensations happening in one’s body,” Dr Kaul advises further.

 “The focus should be on spiritual, mental and physical self-care to live a productive life and experience inner peace and contentment,” believes spiritual coach ModMonk Anshul, adding that it is not difficult to integrate small changes and self-care activities over a period to create moments of peace in modern life and can be done in various ways. ModMonk Anshul suggests: 

(a) Create space for spiritual development in everyday life, and start by taking out 10 minutes daily to introspect and observe oneself non-judgmentally. Also, meditate.

 (b) Practice silence for 10 minutes a day. The maximum energy is lost while speaking. So practising silence can nurture calmness which helps in mental reaction management and in dealing with anxiety and depression. 

(c) Express gratitude to oneself every day. We often forget to be grateful to our bodies for functioning well. The cells in our bodies have cell memory and they react to the way we treat them over a period. If they are treated with love and appreciation, they heal and help to maintain good physical health. 

(d) It might sound simple, but reading good books which help one open their mind and bring down the walls of preconceived notions and ideas can help one grow as a person. Now more than ever before, we’re thinking about how we live, how we eat and how we work. Our minds and bodies are the machines that run our lives and we have to ensure we give them fuel by working out, eating well, sleeping well and staying happy, opines Sarvesh Shashi, the founder of Sarva and Diva Yoga. He adds, “While the recipe for wellness might differ from person to person, I swear by yoga and have had the opportunity to help a lot of other people with it too.” By yoga, what he means is a lifestyle and a way of listening to one’s body and mind. It also includes training the mind to focus on one’s breath and control every feeling in the body with the breath. Shashi shares a quick tip, “If one is feeling anxious or restless, close the eyes and take a deep breath in. Hold it for a few seconds and sigh it out. One will notice feeling a tad calmer. Repeat this a few more times and notice the difference. Now imagine feeling like this every day. That’s yoga.”

Tips on mindfulness for self-care 

1) ‘Me time’ in the morning: Mornings offer a great opportunity to practice mindfulness. The day is just beginning, it is nice and quiet, and one may have a few moments to oneself. Instead of getting out of bed and rushing through a morning routine, sit for a few minutes, be thankful for the day and just be in the present. One might also choose to sit on the couch and concentrate on controlled breathing.

 2) Eat consciously: With our busy schedules, eating has become something done in passing. Try slowing down, cooking the food and eating purposefully. Choose live foods with a variety of different colours, textures, and flavours. Take time to chew and appreciate each bite. Doing so is better for your digestion and can be enjoyable and relaxing. 

3) Meditation: Meditation is the art of mindfulness. In meditating, one is taking the time to connect with one’s mind. It can also be great for relaxation and stress relief. 

4) Confront your feelings: In being mindful, we shouldn’t avoid our feelings. Part of it is being in the present moment, just the way it is. Sometimes, that might include feelings of joy, but one should not want to try to force happy thoughts or resist any particular emotional response. Sometimes, one just needs to accept unpleasant emotions as a part of the moment. Accept disappointment, sadness, anger, jealousy and other emotions as what they are and allow oneself to feel them. —By Dr Priya Kaul, spiritual life coach 

Bid adieu to Covid blues with Ayurvedic remedies

1) Circadian rhythm: The first step is to align your body to nature. Rise with the sun and set with the sun. As difficult as it may seem, wake up 45 minutes before sunrise, drink 200 ml of warm water and engage in mild exercise and stretching. This will aid the colon to evacuate waste and toxins from the body that affect mental and emotional wellbeing too. Start your day with herbal teas and a small bowl of fruits and have the biggest meal in the afternoon. Avoid eating heavy meals after sunset. 

2) Oil pulling: A simple Ayurvedic ritual, oil pulling has multiple health benefits. Take a teaspoon of warm sesame oil and swish it around your mouth for 5 to 15 minutes. This improves dental and gum health, removes parasites and bacteria, and helps reduce kapha and vata imbalance in the head region. Kapha dosh is responsible for bronchial health and vata is responsible for the movement of thoughts in the head. Oil pulling efficiently flushes out anything accumulated in the sinuses and also reduces excess thoughts and restlessness in the mind. Make sure to follow it with gargling a mix of warm water, turmeric and salt. 

3) Abhyangam: This is a simple full body massage that improves blood circulation, sleep patterns, skin, hair and overall moods. It stimulates the toxins towards the gut so you can easily evacuate the waste. Engage in a full body oil massage with a concoction of warm herbal oils like dhanwantaram thailam or even cooking oils like cold-pressed coconut oil, sesame oil, almond oil and castor oil. Follow with a warm shower or an Epsom salt bath. You can also massage your hands and legs with warm sesame oil at bedtime to improve sleep patterns

 4) Milk at bedtime: One can have a cup of warm dairy-based or vegan milk (like coconut milk or almond milk) at bedtime. Add 1 teaspoon of clarified butter (ghee) to cure constipation or add 1/4th teaspoon of turmeric to reduce inflammation or add a pinch of nutmeg to help cure insomnia. —By Dimple Jangda, celebrity Ayurvedic health coach and founder of Prana

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