To say these past 6-7 months have been strange is the granddaddy of all understatements. I’m not sure if strange is even the apt term if you were to consider the emotional impact the pandemic has had, never mind the scale of change it has fuelled.

As the months have rolled on, if you were to believe the innumerable research and reports published, failing mental health has become the monkey on our backs that is gradually gnawing away at our survival shield. Our ever-so-brittle armour is under attack from all sides. Whether it is the actual or perceived economic pessimism, the restricted social interaction or the fact that our way of life has not been the same for a very long time, it has all come together to create a pressure cooker situation that sees no release any time soon. The build-up is telling.

In a situation such as this, people like Shehla Sanam Abdulla offer a ray of hope. Behind that sweet smile and an extremely pleasant persona is a hard-as-nails grit to overcome. A teacher and a mother, Shehla did not allow the tumultuous changes brought upon us by the pandemic to play a dampener on her spirits. Instead she fed her positivity with her talent to create.

In spite of her extremely busy and stressful schedule, Shehla ensured she found the time to paint – a hobby she thought had rusted, all because everything else had taken precedence.

Shehla and the others featured in the cover story of Friday Lite's October 9 issue prove that sometimes self-help books are not the only place where we need to be looking for answers for all our dilemmas and issues. People in specific and life in general offer us the way forward. All we need to do is look – as much inwards as outwards.

Reach me at mshekar@gulfnews.com.

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