As we enter our third week of lockdown, we settle into our new ‘normal’. The realisation that we may be in this situation for weeks, maybe months, has hit home. Self-isolation may be protecting our physical health but what about managing our mental health.
Self-isolation can be boring and difficult, but it can also be an opportunity to reflect and renew.
The world has paused.
There seems to be a new togetherness emerging. A new world.
I have seen my family more through the wonders of technology. I have shared a giggle with friends over social media and stood on the doorstep and clapped for the NHS. As a family, we have spent more time together than we have ever before. I feel really connected to others more than I think I have in a while.
I am fortunate to have been able to continue ‘seeing’ clients online which has been a privilege to continue the process we started as we all try and work our way through this strange, surreal time.
But rather than relaxing and watching Netflix, I feel vulnerable. I find myself reflecting on our immediate situation; worried about keyworkers in our family, the physical and mental health of my children, my clients.
More interestingly, I am becoming aware of the feelings and emotions that I have managed to ignore for a long time. My distractions are no longer available to me. Whether I like it or not, I am going to have to acknowledge them.
We are always connected; we are never alone
I started wondering, what am I feeling unsettled about?
I am aware of my anxieties and my triggers but the lockdown was shining a great big spotlight on them and they were slapping me in the face. Every flaw I have, each insecurity that bothers me and my self-belief have all been challenged by my own mind.
Even though I felt connected to others, I felt I was wobbling, like the rug had been pulled. The business I had grown was at risk, the children’s mental wellbeing was being tested, routines had flown out of the window. I thought to myself ‘no wonder I’m wobbling!’. Its an unsettled, unknown, peculiar time.
I needed to be kind to myself and recognise that any period of withdrawal, whether it is voluntary or enforced, can leave us feeling vulnerable and disturbed.
Many with us have psychological and mental mechanisms to deal with disturbing thoughts and emotions, like remembering actions that we are proud of that reinforce our self-worth.
Many of us can deal with these things by talking them through with family and friends – making meaning of the experiences and insights.
I started to draw upon these tools.
Like celebrating the small things. Our puppy using the garden instead of the kitchen floor, a family quiz night online, time to cook a meal. It was time to stay in the moment. There was no need to rush, time was on my side. enjoying these moments without the guilt, it was then I realised guilt was fuelling my anxieties. Not doing enough with the children, not keeping the house spotless (with two kids and a puppy, yeah right!) it was the thought of not being good enough that was making me anxious.
Our physical world has become limited. I am no longer able to rush at the pace I was. Now was the time to stop and reflect. And guess what? The anxiety subsided. I began to look at what was in my life and what I was grateful for and notice how our world is changing.
Remembering that we are all in the same situation has allowed a strength of belonging to grow. I’m sure you have seen the signs of solidarity is everywhere. Rainbows in the windows, community support for those in complete isolation, families on their daily walks laughing together. I have found it so heartwarming.
I understand the seriousness of the coronavirus, and the risk our keyworkers are taking for us. Yet I feel humbled to be witnessing how people have come together when the world is unsettled. I feel I belong, feel cared for and in an unstable time, I feel safe.
One thing that has surprised me is how creative we can all be! Interacting with family and friends on all sorts of social media and technology has been intriguing to watch!
Interacting with my younger clients through ‘whiteboards’ so we can draw together has created a sense of fun as we explore their worries.
Playing board games via video link…it has been a steep, yet incredible, learning curve!
By being creative in our connectivity gives us a sense of social engagement and hope as we continue to build solidarity in this shared, global experience.
Plan very positive experiences
Self-reflection has been enjoyable! Tough at times but enjoyable. I have adopted some new behaviours (like slowing down) which I am practising during this period of self-isolation.
I am also thinking ahead. What am I wanting to go back to? Who has stayed in contact and who has reached out to me, maybe time to reflect on relationships? This period of self-isolation has made me appreciate the freedom we had and what trips I am planning when we come out the other side.
What I have realised is living in a smaller physical world doesn’t limit our psychological, emotional, cognitive or imaginative abilities. It increases them.
As a counsellor, I am aware of the flip side of this. Self-reflection can bring up some overwhelming thoughts that are difficult to manage and deal with when you have minimal outlets.
It is important that you can talk to someone about these feelings. To be able to talk through the emotions you are experiencing. Please do talk to friends or family about how you are feeling.
If this seems difficult then please get in touch. As a counsellor, I am currently offering sessions online until we are able to meet face to face again.
This has been my first, more personal, blog and I hope you have enjoyed it. It seems important to remember in these strange times, that even if old rhythms of life aren’t re-established, new rhythms of life with eventually emerge.
And given the adaptability of humanity, it will be OK if we spend some time out working through the issues of the present.
Keep well and stay safe,
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