Creating a harmonious life in chaotic times
The side effects from being isolated at home during the lockdown can make us feel lonely and anxious. Perhaps it’s time to do something about this.
You are not alone, far from it. Through the use of modern technology, we are able to stay connected and enjoy some of the usual things we love most.
The pandemic has seen a rise in mental health problems. Qualified Counsellors and therapists are just a video or phone call away.
One thing is for certain, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed how we live, act, think and feel.
Recently, life as we know it changed. Friday night dinner with a friend or planning the next weekend getaway no longer remains the norm. Typical busy London tubes full of curious tourists and 9-5ers stay at home amidst the chaos and clap in support for the NHS.
In a matter of weeks, life, as we know it, has changed and we are left, for the most part, feeling confused, frustrated and very much alone. Busy cities have been left empty due to government instructed guidelines.
It’s important to first ask ourselves, what does this lockdown mean to us?
Rather than focusing on the narrative of the media (which has its place in informing us of the tragedy which we are currently experiencing), I am choosing not to focus on fear, panic or objective problem solving but rather the difficulties which we all face from a gentle and empathic place.
I, like millions of people around the globe, have been affected by this unprecedented global pandemic. I had to make several changes to how I live my life. Some of these changes have been easy or simple and others rather difficult and challenging. Firstly, I moved my whole therapy practice from in-person to online. I then had to decide on how I would adjust my lifestyle to accommodate this new way of living. I think the difficulty we are experiencing comes in many forms and is multi-faceted.
You are not as alone as you think
We have all heard the saying over and over again, ‘we are social beings’ and that is definitely the case. My position here is not to break social distancing rules or defy government guidelines but to emphasise the difference between what I call the 'adjustment period'.
What am I trying to say here?
Well, we can all be fairly sure for the most part, living life during the lockdown period will not look quite the same as it did just some weeks ago. The key here is: ‘substitution’.
Rather than following the same lifestyle blueprint and expecting the same results, we need to make practical conscious decisions to examine the existing blueprint. Rather than being left feeling as if we are losing our lifestyle, we can make subtle but effective changes which may, in turn, impact our mental health in many positive and powerful ways.
For example, the need for socialising and spending time with loved ones does not have to come to an end. Modern technology allows us the space to connect remotely via phone, video and other forms of technological communication. Through the use of this communication at our disposal, we can do many of the things we did before the lockdown.
These are some of the things we may do on a weekly basis and some examples of simple substitutions which can keep us safe from the comfort of our own living room:
- Dinner with that friend who you meet after a long working week on a Friday evening.
- The first date who gives you butterflies who you met on an online dating app.
- The weekly book club you attend on a Thursday evening.
- Sunday morning church service.
- Movie night with your family, as dad talks through the entire film.
- The daily workout gets an upgrade with Joe Wicks from the living room.
All of which can be done with anyone over a Wi-Fi connection and laptop, tablet or phone screen.
Time to think?
We have all heard of the saying ‘I need time to focus on myself’ - it may seem cliché, but perhaps we are on to something here.
It may seem nonsensical when many of us are experiencing drastic changes in how we live our lives. These changes may come in the form of job loss, financial reduction or the loss of our physical, mental health or worse. For many this new-found space in isolation has brought about an instantaneous opportunity for rest and introspection, for others a painful reality awaits.
Time to face our fears!
It’s a natural psychological phenomenon to fill our lives with as much as we possibly can to avoid being alone. Psychotherapists call this avoidance, a defence mechanism which is commonly used unconsciously to manage painful thoughts and feelings.
After all, it is when we are alone we are left to face our difficult thoughts and feelings, for many this may be overwhelming and unbearable. I have worked with many patients who have experienced exactly this and it's psychotherapy counselling where the patient can explore that which has been repressed or avoided in a safe space which encourages emotional honesty.
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