Blog

Pandemic and Your Changing Relationship with Food

The announcement of lockdown by the government due to the virus in India has bought significant changes in the lifestyle of the people, whether it’s work from home, the limited number of groceries, little or no socializing. The pandemic has affected not only the physical but also the mental health of the people.

Stress: The responsibility of providing food on the table during the pandemic and maintaining or losing jobs, health concerns, and financial problems can cause stress. The effect caused by the stress hormone cortisol, emitted during times of distress, also plays a role in weight gain.

Work from home: Apart from essential workers, most of the work is being done online, which includes work from home. Even the students in metros have online classes. Due to the conferment at home, there is an increased level of stress in the working-age population. To reduce mental stress, most of them are indulging in “stress eating”. There is a decrease in the mental health of people due to the monotonous lifestyle.  

Binge-watching: A person with anxiety or depression may binge-watch more to avoid socialization, leading to ‘binge eating’ to find relief. 

Quality of diet: Due to the limited number of groceries, people are consuming more packed food and show a lack of interest in preparing healthy meals, leading to an increase in unhealthy eating habits. The fear of food stocks running out due to lockdown can decrease the quality of fresh food and affect the diet quality.

Lack of physical health: Restrictions on gym and gardens due to lack of social distancing can lead to more time indoors and laziness. This leads to increased blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and bone problems.

Sleeping patterns: Change in sleeping patterns due to lack of physical exercise, stress, overthinking can lead to sleep disorders like getting nightmares and the inability to fall asleep or stay asleep.

Psychiatric disorders: Psychiatric disorders such as depression, attention deficit disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder can lead to weight gain owing to ‘comfort eating.’

Here are some tips for losing weight:

Reducing stress: Changes in eating patterns can lead to craving and high-calorie food. Intake of high-calorie food can lead to obesity.

Home Workouts: Attending online home workout sessions can make a person feel involved and connected to overcome isolation and depression; it improves physical health.

Diet: Including more fruits and vegetables in the diet daily can decrease the risk of overeating.

Eating plenty of fibre: Increasing the intake of fibre in the diet can help lose weight.

Routine: maintaining a healthy routine can help in avoiding overeating and stress.

Limiting screen timing: Taking a break from the mobiles and laptop can reduce the stress on the eyes and can get some time to focus on health.

How has learning changed during the pandemic?

Introduction:

Did you know that the pandemic breakout has led to over 1.2 billion children, in 186 countries to be out of school? According to UNESCO, in India alone, the closure of educational institutions has affected almost 32 crore students. 

The closing of schools and educational institution has forced the academic field to look for solutions through e-learning, through digital platforms. 

We have now reached a point where we wonder if this online learning will continue post-pandemic too.

According to BARC India, there has been a 30% increase in the time spent on educational apps.

What is e-learning? 

In India and other countries, the classroom has now become virtual, since the pandemic breakout. Schools are now dependent on conferencing apps like Microsoft Teams, Google Meet and Zoom, for conducting the classes and on WhatsApp for sharing assignment and school circulars.

This has led to a sudden boom in business for many online learning platforms, who sometimes offer free access to their services too. Though the pandemic has changed the schools from chalk-board to technology-driven models, this can never replace the real-life classroom experiences that students are missing, like, peer learning, extra-curricular activities, sports, emotional development and leadership qualities. 

Can everyone afford e-learning? 

Private schools have been able to move to e-learning solutions easily, in comparison to the government schools, which are facing the challenges due to sudden closure.

Many low-income families had to make ends meet to afford the smartphones or laptops for the children, which would otherwise create a gap in the students learning. Many are still not able to afford the same. In many cases, one phone or laptop is shared between the members, hence the access to e-learning is further restricted. 

Accesses to sustained electricity is another problem faced by the schools and the students in many parts of the country. 

Parents are also finding it challenging to be able to work from home, continue with the household duties and sit with children during online classes, especially the younger ones.

The positive aspect of this situation is that schools are now able to reach the remotest location and hence led to effective learning and teaching.

E-learning for all – 

Many states and districts, where the reach of technology has been a challenge, have adapted to innovative methods to help the delivery of education. A few examples would be –

  • Some of the state governments have joined hands with Doordarshan and All India Radio (AIR) to broadcast the classes through regional channels, which is being an excellent help for rural students and visually impaired students too. 
  • Chhattisgarh government has joined hands with UNICEF and launched a ‘SAJAG’ program, where they train the Anganwadis and volunteers as support for children’s education at home.
  • Odisha government has launched ‘Ghare Ghare Arunima’ program, wherein, a set theme for the month, with the materials, are sent to Anganwadi workers, who reach out to the parents to engage children with activity-based learning. 
  • In some districts in Jharkhand and Haryana, teachers have resorted to using loudspeakers to conduct classes for students with no internet access. 
  • Some teachers are also using YouTube as a platform for taking classes so that students can view them when they have internet access.

Many of the educational portals are giving unlimited offers to teachers and students for better editing of projects, smart calendars, auto-translation features and other tools, to make learning convenient and accessible for a long time.

Students are seen enrolling for newer courses online, as they don’t need to travel, making it convenient to learn more in the available time.

Teachers are making the best of their creativity and taking up every challenge to make sure the learning doesn’t stop, even though many have are faced with financial dip, due to decreased or unpaid salaries.

Conclusion – 

Government of India under the program e-vidya has launched 12 new TV channels (K-12)* and use of radio for students with no access to high-speed internet. 

The market for online educational platforms is expected to see an increase of 6.3 times, equating to almost 1.7 billion USD.

E-learning platforms on the internet are offering multiple courses, free online content and assessment parameters to enhance the learning experience. 

Teachers will also have to update themselves on various tools and techniques to teach in an online classroom.

*Reference:

Why should we introduce financial literacy to kids?

Financial literacy is a basic understanding of finance and finance-related details. The concept of financial literacy is to help a person in utilise skills of finance for economic benefit. The economy has become the core element of survival. 

When we talk about ‘financial skills’ – budgeting, investing, and other financial management, are recognised as skills. Financial skills help an individual in making fair and reasonable economic decisions. Any mistake with regard to finance has a negative consequence. The value and importance of finance should be taught, as well. Most people are unaware of the power that the economy holds in general. Financial stability is essential and helps if a person knows how to handle their finances.

A school’s curriculum should include financial literacy. Finance and finance-related knowledge should be imparted from school days itself, as the subject has more to do with the real world. Financial literacy should equip the student to understand the harm done when it comes to – 

  1. Poor credit card decisions
  2. Unnecessary investments
  3. Incorrect debt management
  4. Other such consequences

Finance education should begin from a young age. The justification behind this is that a child, at a young age, can learn the functions and understand the importance of finance. The school takes the responsibility of educating children about different subjects.

A school can divide the entire process of learning finance into different stages: Pre-school, Middle School, and High School. 

In Pre-school, the child learns and understands the foundation of finance. The foundation itself should be firm, as, upon this, the child begins to know other details regarding finance. There are various textbooks available about personal finance for kids.

During Middle School, the child should learn about banking and other financial subjects, such as the basics of drafting, issuing a loan, etc. The child is more mature, and thus, learns the value of money.

When the child reaches high school, they learn about the more critical and minute details of banking, investments, and so on. Before the child joins a college or university, they should be very aware of their finances.

This particular division can be staged according to classes in school as well. It is to help future generations to make wiser and better financial decisions. 

How can children learn about inclusivity and diversity?

What Is Inclusivity and Diversity?

By definition, inclusivity is the practice or policy of including people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those who have physical or mental disabilities and members of minority groups. Diversity is people belonging to different dimensions. A person belonging to a different race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, age, physical abilities, religious beliefs, political beliefs, or other ideologies.

We live in a diverse world, where children encounter people of different races, cultures and abilities. They make friends with children from different familial structures too. 

Teaching your children about diversity and inclusion is essential, as we all want to raise tolerant, accepting and empathetic children. 

Sometimes, a group will make fun of a person; engage in leg-pulling or name-calling. At other times, the group may act like the person does not exist at all. Usually, one person in the group leads the shaming and others follow the bullying as well.

To make matters worse, adults will suggest “ignore and find someone else to make friends with”. This leads to the child having low confidence issue and over a long run have a self-destructive way too. 

Why should children learn inclusivity?

India has disparities based on geographical, socio-economic, ethnic and gender lines. Inclusive growth can benefit every section of society; the country’s government should pursue it. 

In India, there should be an increased focus on gender equality in schools and institutions. Also, the children from scheduled castes and scheduled tribes population are being supported to bring them into the mainstream, by providing special category for them in the school reservations. So the children can easily make a place for themselves in society.

Children meet people of different races, cultures, and abilities. They make friends with children from different familial structures too. 

If we want the child to grow up, then we need to expose them to inclusivity and diversity from the very beginning. There are many benefits of including inclusivity in children’s lives, not only for children with special needs but for all the children. 

Children learn to accept other people and know that each person is unique. When children with special needs are provided with equal opportunity in the programs and activities as children without special needs, children learn. They learn life-skills, problem-solving skills, have a positive self-image, and respect for others. 

How do we make our children more inclusive?

We must first monitor our behaviours and environment. Think about how we approach diversity, acceptance, and inclusion. This includes the acceptance and endorsement of different opinions and viewpoints. 

The best way to include inclusive habit in a child is by following methods:

  • Encourage the child to make a wide range of friendships; at home; at school; at park/play area and other frequently visited place. As they learn to get along with different kind of people, they will learn to be more accepting too.
  • Do not encourage the use of the nasty word, labelling, fake apologies and cracking cruel jokes on others. 
  • Teach the children to stand up for others.
  • Please keep track of the child’s online activities; tell them that even sharing a hateful post is also like bullying.

Parents report that children enrolled in integrated settings display less prejudice and fewer stereotypes and are more responsive and helpful to others. 

Teachers report that the children become more aware of the needs of others and develop respect for human diversity. Children also learn gratitude for all we have and compassion for the struggle of others.

The process of inclusion allows each person to develop his or her talents and strengths. It also provides opportunities for all of us to develop the much-desired qualities of compassion, empathy, and helpfulness. 

It can teach our children and us that the greater the diversity, the richer our capacity to create a more humane and respectful society.

Books and games are instrumental teaching tools for children. Read a book together and have a conversation afterwards, which will be incredibly impactful. 

Links for the same are below:

11 Children’s Books That Teach Inclusion

7 Books That Teach Kids About Diversity

Classroom Activities from Teaching Tolerance

How is the pandemic affecting children?

As we are constantly bombarded with news about COVID-19 and its spread, we experience a lot of anxiety and stress. Children face similar anxiety and stress, too.

Detecting physical symptoms of COVID is simpler than knowing about its effect on our mental health. This applies particularly to children, as all their regular physical activities have suddenly come to a stop. Schools and daycares have been closed; children can neither visit the park/play areas nor can they meet their friends in person. This can lead them to experience anxiety and stress.

Detecting physical symptoms of COVID is simpler than knowing about its effect on our mental health. This applies particularly to children, as all their regular physical activities have suddenly come to a stop. Schools and daycares have been closed; children can neither visit the park/play areas nor can they meet their friends in person. This can lead them to experience anxiety and stress.

It is hard for children to understand why their parents are stressed. Also, with easy access to digital gadgets; children can now gain a lot of information online and have a lot of queries about the pandemic.

Parents play a critical role during this phase, as children will be curious and ask more questions. They will also need clarification from their parents on specific issues. Hence, parents need to prepare their child emotionally for social distancing and isolation during the pandemic.

Psycho-education of parents and caregivers is crucial, as, during these difficult times, parents are the child’s biggest support.

There are certain things that parents can do to get the child to understand the situation, like:

  1. Reassuring them that this is a temporary phase.
  2. Give the children much-needed attention, especially when they feel like talking or have some query.
  3. Look out for emotional changes in the child and have regular conversations with them.
  4. Pre-plan the daily activities with the child, keep a fixed routine for schoolwork, playtime and recreational activities.
  5. Keep them in touch with their friends, grandparents and their loved ones through video calls and phone calls.
  6. Keep a check on their screen time on the devices.
  7. Try to keep them engaged in physical activities.
  8. Most importantly, take good care of their health and wellness. Develop a habit of self-hygiene in a fun way.

If the child is already in an abusive environment, the isolation during a pandemic can further deepen their mental health crisis. Childcare helplines have seen a huge spike in the calls regarding the health, nutrition, child abuse reports and medical assistance.

To reach out, you can write to Mind Mosaic at contact@mindmosaic.in and we will connect you with the concerned authorities and helplines.

Stay safe. Maintain social distancing.