The days seem to pass by with an unusual slowness, as we miss our daily routines. But perhaps this is the time to contemplate why we do all that seems to be so necessary. Many of us stay in our groove, and get comfortable, losing a zest for life little by little, as we rush and struggle. This brief slowdown in the spin, as inconvenient and scary as it may be, offers an once in a lifetime opportunity to examine our level of happiness and perhaps even dare to ask: “What makes us truly happy and fulfilled?”
I looked up the definition of mindfulness, a somewhat trendy word I associate with yoga. What it really means is:
“A mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
At this point of social, or be it physical, distancing, perhaps every one of us could use a
good therapeutic technique. I for one, as an extrovert, do miss my writers’ group, although an online meeting was an acceptable option, for now. But what about church, work, holidays, family gatherings, neighbours…
Calming my mind, and intentionally focusing on the present moment is perhaps even a little scary. I much rather discuss the ‘present moment’ with my friends, over a coffee. But I’m trying to find the point of acceptance, during my afternoon rest time. It is hard to stop the negative cycle, especially while watching the daily developments, but it is possible.
This brings me to another form of suitable therapy. Gardening. Somehow running fresh soil through our fingers tends to calm the soul. I love watching my seeds grow into little plants. I do fuss over them, ensuring that each one gets adequate light, water and love. My daughter isn’t into vegetables but loves her collection of succulents. May it be a pot on your balcony, raised garden or a cactus on your desk,
tending to plants will bring a little fragment of the Garden into your life.
How about all the scrapbooking supplies collecting dust for a decade or so? The yarn that looked so good at the craft store. The little project you never found time to complete. I’m not suggesting a full-on crafting weekend with a bunch of your friends, although that sounds very tempting just about now, but how about we scale it down a notch and dedicate two afternoons a week to creating something beautiful. Give yourself permission to use this strange downtime to nourish your mind. If crafts are not your thing, what other hobbies did you have to set aside due to demands of life? Could you find 30 minutes a day to spend doing something you once loved? Give it a try. It will feed your soul.
Reach for the light. Literally and figuratively. Spend time in the sunlight, but also limit your exposure to negativity, scary movies, news, sadness, and anything that touches the dark side. When we experience an unprecedented psychological stress, such as the current health crisis, we automatically reach out for help. Perhaps this is a time to dust off your Bible and think of grater things that yourself. Look around and understand that others are in the same proverbial boat. How can you help? Simple acts of kindness will lift up your spirit. Offering a listening ear, sharing fun memories, dropping off a few grocery items at your neighbours, decorating the front of your house, positive social media engagement, or a simple call to a friend -- these are points of light that we can share.
What helps me most is the understanding that I’m not alone in this. Sharing our true feelings makes us vulnerable, but being open about our ability, or the lack of, to cope with this situation allows others to safely express themselves. Check in with your family members on regular basis, especially the youngsters. Teens often rely on their friends for emotional support and being stuck at home can trigger negative emotions. Use adult language, express yourself calmly and show them that you are a safe person to talk to.
One last thing. As tempting as it may be, stay away from excess alcohol. Substance abuse is easily hidden when one doesn’t need to show up at the office at 9 am sharp but finding solace in a bottle of any kind never led to anything good in the long run. There are plenty of non-destructive ways to deal with the current situation. Look for the silver lining, and you may be surprised to find more than a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This too shall pass, and life will go on. There will come a time when we will look back at this brief slow down in history and share our stories at a BBQ or around a holiday table. Let’s make sure that our retelling will be as positive and encouraging as can be.