5 Well-Being Lessons from Self-Isolation
"The past is no longer there, the future is not yet there. There is only the present moment." Thich Nhat Hanh
I have been struggling to know what to write in the current situation that will be succinct and useful as we all work through such immense personal and professional change during this pandemic. One of the biggest changes I have noticed is the increase in anxiety due to lack of individual control over current and future events, from everything to missing friend's birthday celebrations, cancelling crucial work meetings, and worrying about your own health. Below are five lessons I have learnt from self-isolation so far, that I think would be beneficial for everyone:
1. Focus on the present & things you can control - It's very difficult to predict how long or how severe this pandemic will be globally and personally, and thinking about something so large and uncertain can often feel very overwhelming. Find something that helps you relax and switch off for short while everyday. I have taken solace in joining some online Buddhist meditations recently when I feel myself becoming anxious, and it has reminded me to enjoy today. As Thich Nhat Hanh says:
"The past is no longer there, the future is not yet there. There is only the present moment."
2. Give yourself time to breath - for all the naysayers out there, maybe this really is the world's way of telling us to slow down! Isn't is ironic that the annual Earth Hour happened on Saturday 28th March, during a time when some of the lowest pollution levels of this millennium are being recorded worldwide, as planes are grounded and millions of people stop travelling?
3. The world is getting smaller (What if this happened in 2005?) - I don't know about you, but I certainly had never heard of 'Zoom' 10 days ago, and I'm not even sure if the 'Houseparty' app existed. Technology has advanced at a colossal rate and it's been fantastic to not only be able to keep in touch with friends I see regularly, but also to reconnect with friends in Finland, Germany, Vietnam and India - so we can all support each other through this worldwide pandemic.
4. Keep talking - as the 00's High School Musical song goes 'We're all in this together'! The outpouring of community spirit has been incredible, with over 800,000 individuals now registered to volunteer for the NHS. Give yourself a target to call one friend everyday - whether that's for your sake or theirs. Chat about unrelated Coronavirus news; play an online game, discuss a new skill you've learned, or try out a virtual exercise class to change topics for a while.
5. Running really isn't that bad! - This is a personal one to make you smile. I've never been much of a runner, but as a generally active person I really feel the benefit of getting my bloody pumping around my body and releasing endorphins. I have been fortunate to be teaching yoga online at least once everyday, and getting outdoors to the common across the road from my London flat for some fresh air. It not only gives me a precious 30 minutes alone from my flatmate (who also happens to be my big sister), but also helps me to clear my head from any stresses during the day.
The most important thing I just want to keep reiterating is - it's okay not to be okay. Yes, this may be the time you finally learn your favourite tune on the guitar, or sit down to launch your dream business, but it's also totally okay if you don't manage any of that! Let your mind and body rest from the incessant stresses of the western world, and don't be so hard on yourself. Keep talking, and know that you are not alone in this strange and confusing world.