For doctors working on the frontline, the strain of working through a pandemic has been immense, but it has also led many to find solace in creative pursuits like painting, poetry, dancing, singing and cooking.
Dr Kartik Parelkar, 39, an ear-nose-throat (ENT) surgeon with the state-run Sir JJ Hospital, revived his childhood hobby of painting to combat the stress of being on Covid duty. “Being an ENT surgeon, we are the most vulnerable to acquiring the infection while treating a patient,” he said. Dr Parelkar unwinds by painting wildlife scenes. “The colours relax my mind and make me forget the worries. I get lost into the wilderness when I paint the animals,” he said.
Dr Anmon Bhargava, 24, is a postgraduate student at the Seth Gordhandas Sunderdas Medical College (GSMC) (also known as KEM Hospital). Bhargava has set up a recording studio in her hostel room to record songs. “To divert my mind from worries, I started singing when the lockdown was declared in March,” she said. Dr Bhargava mixes her own songs and uploads them to her YouTube channel, which currently has 152 subscribers. “This has turned into my biggest stress buster,” she said.
Dr Ganesh Choudhari, 38, an anaesthetic from Solapur, makes humorous comic strips that are inspired by what he sees around him in hospital while on duty. “This not only relaxes my mind after work, but also brings a smile to people’s faces amidst the chaos,” said Dr Choudhari who uploads his comics on Twitter.
Dr Harsh Jain, 27, from the medicine department of KEM Hospital has recently started writing poems drawing on his experiences during the pandemic. “One night after a mentally draining day at the hospital, I started writing down my thoughts in the form of poems and gradually, this habit lifted my mood. It is healing,” said Dr Jain.
In September, Daisy Fancourt, associate professor of behavioural science and health at University College London in the United Kingdom, published a study that found people who participated in arts-related activities for at least 30 minutes a day reported lower rates of anxiety and depression. City psychiatrists also believe creative activities can be therapeutic. “The simplest form of creativity like gardening, cooking … can cheer [someone] up. It might help soothe some feelings of anxiety and isolation associated with the pandemic,” said psychiatrist Dr Sagar Mundada.