Prime Minister Lyonchhen Dr Lotay Tshering

How the PM and the Cabinet are dealing with the COVID-19 stress

These are stressful times with COVID-19 and the stress is at its highest among the top decision making levels of the government, apart from the frontline workers.

The Bhutanese asked the Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering how he and his cabinet colleagues are grappling with all the stress and psychological pressures of being in the decision making seat during such times.

“It is stressful no doubt, but almost all of my friends in the cabinet agree that we have voluntarily joined politics to serve the country and people and in fact it is a golden opportunity to give unconditional service to the Tsa-Wa-Sum and so there is no difficulty anywhere. There is stress, but it is a stress we don’t mind as we are doubly blessed to serve the country in a time of crisis and that too in our own professions,” said the PM.

He said Lyonpo Namgay Tshering is a public health specialist, Lyonpo Dr Tandi Dorji is a clinician and public health specialist, Lyonpo Dechen Wangmo is a public health specialist and he himself is a hardcore clinician.

He said he has been telling his other health colleagues, including a group of medical staff he met in Bajo recently, that this is a golden opportunity to be serving the nation through their profession as at other times they are paid to do their job 9 to 5.

“I told them these are the times when you are on the front lines, when people are running away from COVID-19 virus. When people hear that there is a positive case in JDWNRH they don’t even want to walk by the hospital but you are there preparing the isolation room ready to treat a patient in that isolation room. So this is a golden opportunity to showcase your selflessness,” said Lyonchhen.

The PM acknowledged that these are difficult times as for anything one wants to do, one needs money, but the most difficult thing to come by in these times is money.

“What every one want’s is money and even without that I am saying this is a golden opportunity to serve this nation,” said the PM.

Lyonchhen said, “My biggest worry is not Coronavirus but my biggest worry is the worry of His Majesty The King. I don’t think in my lifespan I have seen His Majesty travelling so frequently within the country. Even while in Thimphu His Majesty keeps travelling around like Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Human Resources, TCB, FITI, TechPark and he then could head towards Phuentsholing and then come back and go towards Mongar and come back and head towards Samdrupjongkhar. When His Majesty is worried I am worried.”

Lyonchhen said what helped was his workplace environment with his ‘work friends’. “I don’t feel like I am working at all. Work stress will be horrible if you don’t have a good work environment. Here, in fact, I want to come early and leave late. They give both professional and social coordination and they give unconditional support and so I don’t mind staying late and being overworked and this is the best part,” said the PM.

He said that an important component is that he makes sure to get exercise all the time.

He said that on a work day he would get up at 4.30 or 5 am and in 15 or 20 minutes cycle up to Sangaygang and then ride on the dirt road. He then sits down at a place with some solitude reflecting on the day’s work and planning things which he said helps. Lyonchhen said that ideally he comes to office on a bike and then rides back home.

Lyonchhen emphasized that the best professional and beneficial way to de-stress is exercise.

“It will de-stress you, you can work longer, you can keep fit and you can think better and you will have a more productive life,” said the PM.

Lyonchhen said that he also likes to listen to podcast lectures as he walks or cycles. He said he collects his reading materials and reads them at night, and as he reads, he goes on YouTube to listen to good lectures on Coronavirus.

“I look at what other countries are doing, but of course you have to be little positive and you must know what you want. YouTube alone can guide you if you know what you want, but there is also a lot of junk and exciting useless things and if you are not careful you might waste your money and time there, otherwise, now-a-days, you get everything there,” said the PM.

Lyonchhen said his other favorite thing is Google Scholars where one can get rated and peer reviewed articles which are technical and professional unlike overall Google which he said also has junk.

“Then the man that I disturb the most is Dasho Zimpon and so with all these positive people around and all the consultations it is very good. We also have an expert team of the RMA Governor, Finance Secretary, Dasho Sonam Kinga, Dasho Tashi Wangyal chaired by me and for anything that I need expert support I ask them to help me and I give them the task.”

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