Blessings from the lockdown

By T.U. Dawood
Tue, 04, 20

This week You! talks to Sayeda Habib, life coach and author, who shares tips for those who are suffering from depression due to lockdown…

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Whether you are scrambling to meet work deadlines from home or if your work has completely come to a stop, this lockdown has turned everyone’s life topsy turvy, and it’s not clear when this new way of living and social distancing will end and when it will truly be safe to live a normal life. This can be very demotivating. In fact, downright depressing. Despite all these worries and obstacles, this is actually a marvelous time for reflection, self-growth and family bonding, according to Sayeda Habib, life coach and author. Recently, You! asked her to share a bit about her personal story and in particular, detail some of the blessings this unusual situation is bringing into our lives…

You! Tell us a little about yourself...

Sayeda Habib: I’ve been empowering my clients through life coaching for over a decade. I have extensive training from reputed institutions in the United Kingdom and hold the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) credential issued by the International Coach Federation. I am a Master Practitioner of NLP, and have trained in other interventions including Time Line Therapy, and hypnotherapy, and have been featured on radio and television in the United Kingdom, Pakistan and UAE. I am also the author of ‘Discover the Best in You! Life Coaching for Muslims’ (Kube publishing 2012), the first self-help coaching book written specifically for the Muslim community.

You! What made you gravitate towards this field of work?

SH: I feel like coaching chose me, rather than the other way around; what I mean is that it happened quite organically. I had my own coach at first, and from the process, I discovered that what I truly want to do is engage myself in a profession that makes a difference to others. During this time, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend some self-development conferences as well. It was at one such conference, that the turning point happened. I attended an introduction to life coaching. The teacher set up a practice, where the participants got to coach each other. It so happened that the group was an odd number, so I got to coach the teacher. We worked together for about 20 minutes, after which he told me that ‘you’re a natural’. That was a turning point. I began thinking about coaching, and I already believed in it, since I had my own coach. One thing led to another, and I started my training the following year. 15 years later, I haven’t looked back.

You! Any tips for our readers who are suffering from depression in this lockdown period?

SH: One of the easiest things is a bit of physical activity. Start off little with online yoga videos or take a walk in your garden if you have one: just something to get moving. One key thing to remember is that the mind and body is one system, and physical movement can sometimes be a simple key that shifts everything. Talk to everyone in the house, and choose about 30 mins - or an hour to put away the phones, and just talk. Perhaps cook together, share old photos, do something to connect. Make this a time to remember, and look fondly on.

You! What state of mind does the current situation put you in?

SH: Our state of mind is something that can shift from moment to moment. The first few days were very difficult for me, along with everyone else. Change is unsettling for anyone. However, I then began to shift my mindset. I started focusing on the good things that are happening all around us. We are all getting the opportunity to spend more time with family, to reflect, and to rethink what we want to spend our time on. Our mindset has a lot to do with how productive we are. The better we feel, the more productive we are. Remember, there will always be things out of our control, and if we fixate on that, we will feel out of control. Today, there’s an opportunity to re-center and to focus on the blessings we do have and build from there.

You! What are some of these blessings?

SH: These blessings include time to slow down, get pending things done, the chance to connect. Remember physical distancing doesn’t mean emotional distancing. One huge blessing is all this technology we now have. Connect with friends and family who are far away. And when you connect, talk about the ‘good’ things that are happening, catch up… take the focus to something positive. Once things settle down, there are plenty of opportunities. The first big one is to rethink our priorities. Spend some time reflecting on where you’ve been spending your time, with whom. Ask yourself: would I still want to spend my time on these things a year from now or do I want a change? Now is the time to reflect on this… so when things actually start up again, you have your new direction and possibly a new plan.

You! Any proactive tips for readers who are feeling low?

SH: A couple of simple tips. Make a small schedule for yourself, and focus on one or two things that you can do even at home. Think about those pending things that you want to finish up, now you have the time to complete it and each time you complete a task, cross it off the list. Believe me, this feels amazing. Next, aim to get in some physical activity which gets the feel-good chemicals going. Third, spend some time with whoever is at home, just playing a game, or doing something enjoyable. Small bits of quality time are wonderful.

You! Do you have any final words of advice for our readers?

SH: So many people have lost their wages, their livelihoods overnight. If you have a roof over your head, have your basic needs met, and all your loved ones are safe, you are in a great position. Let’s take time to shift our focus towards all that we have, even today. Focusing on our blessings encourages us to give back and do all the good that we can. Giving back not only is contribution, it feels amazing as well. This is the way we can nurture ourselves, others, and our environment towards something more beautiful.

T. U. Dawood is CEO of 786

Investments Ltd., President of Dawood Global Foundation, and sits on the boards of Pakistan State Oil and Pakistan Refinery Ltd.