The pandemic has been hard for everyone but particularly for those who have faced financial setbacks, lost loved ones or suffered from mental and physical health challenges. For expectant mothers too, this has been a tough phase and says actor, producer, Dia Mirza, “As an expectant mom, I was worried not just about my own health but the health of the planet. There was and is deep anxiety about what kind of a world our children will grow up in amid so many environmental and social challenges. I also faced a health crisis and now as a new mom, there are days, I feel overwhelmed. However, over the years, I have developed some tools to regain my sense of joy and optimism.” Dia says doing little things around the house helps her regain mindfulness and these are her go to activities when pandemic blues seem overpowering. ‘When we are constantly focused on the outside world, our anxiety grows more urgent. Most of the time, the noise that constantly surrounds us, seeps within us and adds to the stress levels. For me, meditation is the super power that helps me disconnect from the world and connect with a deeper calmer part of me,’ says Dia CONNECT WITH YOURSELF — says Dia, “When we are constantly focused on the outside world, our anxiety grows more urgent. Most of the time, the noise that constantly surrounds us, seeps within us and adds to the stress levels. For me meditation is the super power that helps me disconnect from the world and connect with a deeper calmer part of me. And of course, Nature is a big healer. Put your gadgets away and water your plants, hug a tree, go for a walk in a green space and you will feel instantly grounded and calm. ” HELP SOMEONE — one way to instantly feel good is to help someone else feel better, says Dia and adds, “Often we lose sight of the many blessings we still have. When I find it hard to focus on them, I try to make a difference to a cause, a person, an animal, a child to remind myself of how much good I can still do. There are so many people going through a hard time right now and extending hope and help in some way, instantly gives me a sense of purpose.” READING AN UPLIFTING BOOK — Dia says, “One thing books have taught me is to seek joy even while facing challenges. I think of books as soul food and they always come to my rescue when I need an insight, a message, or guidance. Books can be inspirational teachers in the darkest of times so make a space in your home for reading, and spend some time every day with a book. It will change your perspective and possibly your life.” DECLUTTER YOUR HOME — when you care for home, it shows, says Dia and adds, “I love being a homebody, rearranging drawers and decluttering. I also believe that sustainable choices we make in our home can take care of the larger picture. The planet too is our only home that we must take care of. For a long time now, I have led a sustainable, zero-plastic lifestyle and I don’t like to buy anything just for the sake of it. With time, I have learnt that the joy of letting go is bigger than the thrill of gathering more. Try decluttering your home and you will instantly feel lighter and better.” DOING SOMETHING CREATIVE — we can all go back to a childhood hobby when being an adult seems harder than usual, thinks Dia. She adds, “I love to paint. Be it a wall, a piece of fabric, a canvas or furniture. We all have unexpressed creativity within and when we are at home for longer hours than usual, why not bring it all out and rediscover the joy of painting, knitting, crocheting, dancing, playing an instrument or anything that you may not have had the time to focus on?” COOKING — there is something deeply nourishing about cooking a meal for yourself and loved ones Dia says. “As a new mom, I am already thinking up new recipes for baby food but honestly, I have always loved to cook. Trust me, baking is truly as therapeutic as it is deemed to be. When the house begins to smell of cinnamon and happiness, you will feel all your stress just melting away. You can also cook a meal for your building watchman, for a daily wage worker, for a grieving friend. Food is a wonderful way to heal yourself and others,” she concludes.