Sitting doing nothing all day but feeling like you shouldn’t be. We have been conditioned from very early on to always be doing. Doing nothing is a waste of precious time. All over social media, we find posts of ‘hustling’ and stop wasting time. All some how pointing fingers for those wishing to stop for a while. To rest, recoup and recover.
People are seriously burnt out from working hard and ‘hustling’, from trying to make it. And when they do stop for a while, they feel guilty for doing the very thing they need in order to continue the ‘hustle’.
When you’re forced into isolation, alone, and if it’s something you’re not used to, it can literally drive you mad. You may have family around you, but if you cannot openly talk about feelings and thoughts, then isolation can quickly lead to depression.
We find ourselves seeking comfort in our cellular devices, or at least to distract ourselves from the void we feel. That constant low-grade anxiety bubbling away under the surface, constantly feeling unsettled. Even when ‘relaxing’ we see people twitching, legs shaking etc. unable to sit still, to slow down and be calm.
Some days are better than others, but there is always this underlying tone of ‘do something’. Peoples lives, routines and habitual patterns have been majorly interrupted, leaving them in states of confusion, fear and uncertainty. At times like this, people turn to the help and guidance of others and in particular the people in charge i.e. leadership. We need reassurance and comforting during these hard times.
It’s becoming evident to more and more people that we aren’t in control of events as much as we previously believed. Things happen. Coronavirus is a grand scale event that highlights this. Yet if we stop and look closely, pre-pandemic, we have had many smaller daily events that remind us how little control we do have of events in our lives. Unaccounted or unexpected traffic due to a collision, someone falling ill, boss cancelling the overtime hours, clients cancelling last minute. Daily doses of unexpected change. All little clues reminding us that we are not in control of events. This doesn’t mean we can’t plan and map and even project how our week, month, year will turn out? of course you can, that’s good to do, however, how do we REACT when stuff doesn’t go our way? Get angry? Annoyed? Upset?
One of the things that I’m beginning to see more clearly is that we need a better relationship with ourselves. More compassion and understand about how we ‘tick’. I believe during these uncertain times, during isolation, we can begin that inward journey, of self-reflection and learning. Of trying to understand ourselves better. And from there accepting who we are. We are not our job, our salary, our grand house or the objects that we believe that define us. We are the spiritual beings that are interconnected in ways that elude the masses. We are not the feelings we feel, we are not the thoughts we think, we are the creators behind those thoughts and feelings. This might sound too farfetched and wacky for some and I do digress here, I just want to highlight here that we are more than what we think and feel. I will leave it there for now.
So, what can we do to begin to help ourselves? For me, I think the PRACTICE of being comfortable alone is a good start since that’s where we are right now. I highlight the word practice because that what it will be…practice. Some days will be easier than others. This is a skill and like any other skill it takes a lot of practice and patience. There are days you will do it with ease and other days where you will struggle but hang in there, it’s a skill that is worth mastering.
The idea is to practice being still, in body and in mind. Start by doing this for just 1 minute if you wish, for others who feel well practiced you can do it for longer. The aim is to be still. Still your body and still the mind. The mind is a lot harder than the body. Thoughts flow in and out of the mind all the time and to stop them is a virtually impossible task and takes years and years of practice on a mountain somewhere. The thoughts will be there, and the idea isn’t to get rid of them but to take a step back and just take note of them. Observe them and let them pass. Now, I know from experience you will get caught with thoughts and before you know it you will be planning the next gym session or the menu for dinner and that’s ok. Sooner or later you will catch yourself and you can come back to feeling the body and becoming present.
This is a lot easier to say than do, and as I said will take practice but will be worth it. Getting comfortable in our skin, being able to observe thoughts rather than get caught up in them is a great way to prevent overthinking, which happens a lot in isolation. Do this for yourself, tell the family to do it, do it together and we will come out of this pandemic calmer and more in tune with our inner selves.