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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 5  |  Page : 14

The “Idiot Box”: A useful coping strategy in COVID-19 times

Department of Psychiatry, Government Medical College and Hospital, Chandigarh, India

Date of Submission16-Sep-2020
Date of Acceptance16-Sep-2020
Date of Web Publication02-Oct-2020

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Subhash Das
Government Medical College & Hospital, Department of Psychiatry, Block D, Level 5, Sector 32 , Chandigarh 160030
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_328_20

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How to cite this article:
Das S. The “Idiot Box”: A useful coping strategy in COVID-19 times. Indian J Soc Psychiatry 2020;36, Suppl S1:14

How to cite this URL:
Das S. The “Idiot Box”: A useful coping strategy in COVID-19 times. Indian J Soc Psychiatry [serial online] 2020 [cited 2021 Jan 27];36, Suppl S1:14. Available from: https://www.indjsp.org/text.asp?2020/36/5/14/297171

From March till now, the inevitable has happened. The COVID-19 pandemic has “hit” us all in one way or the other. To be honest, I have been overwhelmed with it at a personal level, and in the beginning, it was difficult to manage the professional front too. Being the Medical Superintendent of a Mental Health Institute, Chandigarh, and having inpatients with mental illness, it was quite challenging to revamp nearly every aspect of the service keeping COVID-19 in perspective. Routine, and (many a times) time-bound, work additionally had to continue. This whole period was too strenuous at times, and for the first time ever, the thought of resigning from this demanding job did cross my mind once. However, not the one to run away from any crisis, the fighter in me quickly overcame this thought.

Being a psychiatrist, the tricky part which one has to deal with is being asked by people around you for tips to reduce stress and how to be mentally strong during this tough time. Giving advise to others is a 'tricky part' because, though I will be giving them tips based on different reliable sources [including the World Health Organization (WHO)], but when it came to following those myself, I was not sure whether it was being done? However, on a little bit of introspection, I can safely say “yes”! As advised by the WHO [1] as to how to reduce stress, I have learned to filter out what to watch on television (TV) and maintained my daily routine of 1 h of brisk outdoor walking, staying connected (which is really easy actually) with friends and family members, etc., The WHO further emphasizes [1] that one should try to use those past strategies which helped to cope with stress. For me, outdoor activities such as hiking, trekking, going on long drives, and seeing new places had been my stress busters. Now herein lay my challenge. How to carry out these much loved outdoor activities and past coping strategies now, as there was restriction on movement everywhere.

Here, the humble TV-a. k. a. “idiot box” came to my rescue. In the present era, the “idiot box” has now come of age and become “smart.” Hence, I utilized its “smartness” and went globetrotting by connecting the TV to “YouTube.” Over the last few months, I have traveled virtually far and wide. I have taken the mother of all train routes, “the trans-Siberian” railway, marveling in the tranquility of various places on its way. I have traveled to distant places like Patagonia (courtesy Expedia). Rick Steves' episodes have enabled me to travel Europe extensively. Countries such as Madagascar and South Africa were now well within my reach. I have always been fascinated by the Himalayas and the great happy nation of Bhutan in its lap. My “idiot box” has allowed me to travel to these beautiful places in the Himalayas. In India, I have virtually visited numerous places I had never been to: to name a few – Khajjiar (Himachal Pradesh), Mechuka (Arunachal Pradesh), and Nainital (Uttarakhand). All along, as I virtually travel to these wonderful places, I learned about the people and their culture, cuisine, and customs. Most importantly, these virtual travels satiated my urge to travel physically and successfully substituted such desire. Hence, I was able to mitigate and manage my stress as I used my favorite past coping strategy (travel) through a virtual medium by utilizing the “idiot box” with the added advantage of having the luxury and choice to travel at odd hours and wherever I want. Period!

The “idiot box” is not an idiot after all!!!


I would like to thank Tanushree Saikia, my wife, and Dr. SS Chowdhury, my MBBS batchmate.

  References Top

World Health Organization. Coping with Stress during the 2019-nCov Outbreak. Available form: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/coping-with-stress.pdf?sfvrsn=9845bc3a_2. [Last accessed on 2020 Aug 23].  Back to cited text no. 1


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