Deepika Padukone stresses the importance of setting a routine amid the lockdown, to address mental well-being.

Be it with a picture of her cleaning out her closet, taking to an enhanced skin-cleansing routine, or a more recent post of her chalking out her weekend travel plan as she ‘jets off’ to her living room from her kitchen, Deepika Padukone is employing humour to keep her fans entertained when in isolation. But the severity of the current scenario that the country finds itself in is not lost on the actor. With limited discussion on how individuals can address their mental well-being while being quarantined and fed a barrage of disquieting news, Padukone advises individuals to “follow a routine”.

“The most basic thing [that people can do] follows a routine. A lot of anxiety develops due to uncertainty; not knowing what is to come in the future. It is important to focus on the now, and one way to achieve that is by setting daily, and weekly targets. Let’s not avoid formulating a routine just because there’s a curfew. Some people can cope with it. But, for most people, getting into a routine, like going to bed and waking up at a defined time, and setting up a dedicated work space and holding virtual [meetings], is important. Set a system and [become] disciplined,” the actor tells mid-day, adding that should individuals be hit by a severe bout of anxiety, professional help must be sought. “Reaching out to a mental health professional is the best thing to do. Not only will you have someone to talk to, but also, the person [is best suited to aid you since he] will be a professional expert.”

Sprinkling her social media news feeds with glimpses of her exercise regimen, Padukone admits that when home-bound, she looks forward to her training routine. Long before she realised she was battling depression, she was well aware that her mental and physical well-being went hand in hand. “When I was young, and an athlete, I understood that I felt good [when I trained]. I always felt that correlation. Being physically active has a big role to play in my emotional well-being.” Her routine, she admits, has undergone several iterations over the years. “I am not one who likes to do the same thing. A few years ago, I took to yoga, and then pilates. I didn’t enjoy running, so in the last couple of years, I have been wanting to overcome that [fear], and have hence taken to it now.”

The physical requirements of the characters she is set to play in films also alters her workout formats. But, caught in a situation when she is unable to get her daily dose of endorphins through training, Padukone follows a two-step process. “I’ll find ways to be more physically active in the day, like perhaps take a flight of stairs at the airport instead of using the elevator. Also, I will watch what I eat. The biggest mistake one can make is not be physically active, and then eat everything that’s in sight. That is recipe for disaster. If I am working out regularly, I eat anything I want to. But, if I am unable to exercise, I watch what I eat. This has nothing to do with vanity, or the way I look. It has to do with the way I feel.”

Ask the actor what measures she takes when she fears for her mental health, and she says, “I believe in the basics, [which is getting] adequate nutrition, sleep, exercise and hydration. This works for me.” Battling depression in the past has made her more intuitive and aware of her emotional state, she admits. “That’s why I call it my love-hate relationship with the illness.”

Her five-year old mental health foundation was among the first introduced by a Bollywood celebrity, and Padukone says that despite the innumerable people they’ve served, she still finds the reactions she gets from users on a day to day basis, as the most “gratifying” experience. “When, on a regular basis, we have people tell us that a tweet, or an interview made a difference to them, or we see someone recover or return from the brink, by following our advice, it is gratifying.”

Four tips by Deepika Padukone to stay healthy in isolation

1 Set a routine, which includes sleeping and waking up at a defined time

2 Set daily and weekly targets

3 Take to an exercise regimen, and watch the diet

4 Get an adequate amount of sleep and hydration