COVID-19: A Time for Introspection and Resetting
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
I don't know about you, but I did not expect 2020 to be in the #pandemic state that it is today. Because I am living in #NewZealand, I am required to stay inside for 4 weeks, at least. This amount of time may change, depending on the amount of new cases, and whether or not we can #flattenthecurve. But for now, here we are... inside and in the yard, day after day.
Of course, this is a jarring shift, for many. We are not used to being bound to the home in such a fashion. What do we do? How can we work? Where can I go to get some peace of mind? How do we still attain the wellness regimen we had before #selfisolation? So many questions, cuddled right up next to a world of uncertainty. So, what do we do with ourselves?
Many of us are forced into stillness, while a handful of essential service workers (THANK YOU!) are still out and about keeping as much of society moving and as healthy as possible. This stillness, while perhaps unsettling at first, is actually a great gift. I do not mean to undermine the gravity of this pandemic, or the collective grief that the world is currently carrying, but what I mean to do is highlight a silver lining. And, let's face it, we are currently inundated with bad, anxiety-inducing news. Looking for silver linings amidst tragedy can be an effective coping strategy that helps us through. That being said, let's step into some positive together, shall we?
I can appreciate that the current circumstance we are in is very different from being on vacation... as with vacation there is not an underlying reality that the world is suffering, at least not in this way. More often than not, the worst dread surrounding a vacation is "I have to go home soon!" But even still, I cannot remember the last time, aside from vacation, where I was able to wake up on my own accord, have a calm coffee, and reflect on life. For me, that reflection includes #Dreamwork, as our dreams are just as alive as the myriad other facets of our lives. I have the gift of time to write them out, and to sit with them and do some exercises with them. To me, my dreams are an avenue to reflection and, in turn, wellness.
I realize every so often that I am carrying more stress than I think I am, and I would invite you to ask yourself if you are too. We get really good at "holding it all together", as our society frowns upon our displays of perceived weakness. Like many of you, I am facing financial pressures, we are expecting a new baby in mere months, I am half a world away from my friends and family back home in Canada, and I am trying to cope with a periodic sense of aimlessness and, to be frank, doom. If I do not continue to unpack some of these emotions, dream and write about them, or chat about them with my partner, I think I would be far more overwhelmed.
I dreamed a night or so ago about a post-apocalyptic world. In the dream are struggles, villains, filth, fear, and all of these heavy, dreadful things. There I am, in this world, trying to survive. And suddenly, I come across this oasis in the chaos... a little boutique-like corner store, filled with goods that I cannot recall but recognize as rare. In this store there is a sense of calm and safety. I do not fear the two women who walk in with smiles. They, too, are safe. The contrast between this inner calm and the outer world is so very apt for todays external world, but also for my inner world.
I have to find and sit within this form of calm and safety when I can, or the struggles will be far too burdensome. I hope you, too, have a similar "boutique-like corner store" to visit amidst your days.
The privilege of time is in our hands. And, this can be unsettling. We are programmed to be busy, to be productive, to be earning money... and we are not valued unless we are. I challenge you to put all of that aside for a day. Do something that you have been wanting to do but just "don't have the time." Is it painting? That meditation exercise? Planting seeds? Whatever it may be, now is the moment. Seize it, and try to push away the guilt that climbs in... "you are not being productive," your mind will say. Just ask it calmly to quiet down. The world is slowing, and we should too. This is a rare event, and unlike anything these generations have faced before. We do not necessarily know how to exist in this, as many nations are learning as the days pass. As are we.
It is time to be compassionate to ourselves and others, honour ourselves and our families, and take a big deep breath and pause. Sure, responsibilities and daily tasks will remain, but ask yourself how dire they are, and whether or not you can actually just step outside and paint that nice little round stone you see at your feet. Allow yourself to press reset.
Chad Walters-McNaughton, MSW