Coping with self isolation
I am sure, like me, you wonder with amazement how quickly the days, weeks and months go by in one year of our lives. At the moment most of the populace across the world are experiencing total lock-down due to the Covid 19 Virus. During the last month of this lock-down and social-work isolation I have had more time than usual to think about how my daily life is structured. I have always tried to keep a healthy balance between work and leisure but recently sensed that a lot of my thinking and lesiure time has become a period of procrastination. Putting off those study hours I promised myself, not completing those unfinished rainy day jobs, and a failure to connect with people I have lost touch with. The longer I delay the more difficult it is to tackle them.
We were told yesterday by the Portuguese government that the lock-down is to continue for a few more weeks which led me to wonder, "How can I become more productive?". This set me thinking about what is stopping me from being more effective, and of course I came up with a long list of distractions which to my mind come under the general umbrella of, Procrastination. Distractions are helpful of course, and very necessary. They can help us to: switch off from our stressful jobs and situations, give us time to re-focus, and allow us to connect with other people. And with that in mind I am going to re-frame the term "distractions" and call mine, "connections". These connections are through social media, phone calls and texts and connection with the world of news and leisure via television and the internet.
My new aim in life is to keep a healthy balance between, working on the essentials, i.e. emails to clients, maintaining our website, walking our dog, exercising, cleaning our flat, cooking etc and taking time out to relax and connect with loved one's, and enjoying my hobbies/leisure time activities. This brings to mind three key factors, (i) Mind, (ii) Body and (iii) Spirit that I studied as preparation for my work with therapy clients. If we have all three in harmony we have probably created a healthy balance between working and resting (mind), eating and exercising (body) and taking time out for connections and activities that make us feel nourished and alive (spirit).
For our own sense of harmony we are told by the wisest of gurus to think positive thoughts and limit the amount of negative news around in this period. But what happens on those days when we can't get out of bed because we feel depressed? or our loved one's are sick with this virus, and we are totally absorbed by their condition? or we simply can't cope with this isolation and feel anxious that we will never get back to normal life? These are very real and pressing issues and with no easy solutions. My experience with my counselling clients has taught me that I can't take away their emotional pain. The process of healing is on-going, usually after many hours of talking and connecting with their emotions. During our time together I encourage them to become their own counsellor. What this means in practice is to become interested in what is going on inside them, rather like a scientist studying particles under a microscope. For example, when they feel depressed, I suggest that they acknowledge the feeling, allow the emotions to surface and work through them. And with a sense of curiousity, begin to unpick what might have happened to bring about that emotional response. It is rather like stepping outside of ourselves, without judgement, and processing what is going on. Keeping a journal is great for keeping track of what has been happening. A pattern is sure to emerge and by empathic understanding (depressed people can very judgemental of their current condition, feeling shame etc) both client and I can come up with strategies for moving forward. The aim of these strategies is for them to be able to continue to work, and keep up a daily routine, and connect with others, In other words we can learn to live with these emotions rather than be limited by them.
For the next section 'Strategies' I have listed some activities that may help you on those days when you are feeling down or anxious, plus I have a few distractions to move you away from your procrastinations and worries. Some are based on my own experiences with clients, and others are from the work of the actress, Ruby Wax and the International Motivational Speaker, Xandria Ooi.
I hope you have fun with them as they are not meant to be 'boot camp' instructions but alternative ways of thinking and behaving. And do please keep me informed how you are experiencing them, you can do this via email to me, firstname.lastname@example.org or via our facebook messenger service, under the banner, Natural Joki Flow.
Strategies for coping with self isolation and getting work done
Keep well and safe.
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