Now’s not the time to think of ourselves, or is it?
By Simon | 2nd April 2020
With so much time on our hands it’s too easy to get caught up in thoughts of fear……Fear is all around us, fear for yourself, your life, your job , your business, your mortgage, your, your your. With the TV, radio and even our phones broadcasting fear, I get it. I know that at this time our Government are using fear to keep us safe, rather than a strategy of control and dominance, which ironically is one of my fears. We are told that social distancing is about keeping ourselves safe and minimising the spread of the virus so quickly, so our health services and medical resources can manage to help those in most need. How does this effect the mental health of those in lockdown?
Thoughts have a way of spiralling as one thought leads to another and before we know it we feel, displaced, unhappy, stressed and sad. Too much time on our hands can lead to more unconscious thought. Just one unconscious thought can seem quite benign but….. One unconscious thought so easily morphs into another and another and another and can lead to a whole world of pain as it can effect our mood and relationships with those around us and interfere with our sleep.
There is hope because one conscious change of thought can bring a whole new experience of life. That is to say, become conscious and choose a different thought to break the pattern. Sometimes a distraction helps, those who have children use this strategy to great effect……Then instead of ‘fear all around us’, we can create ‘Love all around us.’ ( would make a good song )
When we think thoughts of love, our world and how we see ourselves and treat others changes in a heartbeat. Like social distancing, I have discovered a new name for this and call it, ‘thought distancing.’
In my second week of isolation I have consciously found myself paying more attention to my diet. Not how much and how varied my food, although important. It’s the diet of information I consume and how varied and diverse. If you were like me, in the first week of isolation my diet of information was very one dimensional and all consuming. I gorged on anything covig-19 as I tried to mentally come to terms with what seemed very surreal.
My observation is most of us try to use our mind to bring some certainty to life. It’s one of life’s coping mechanisms. Another is routine. This latest virus is a steep reminder that the very nature of existence is constantly changing and uncertain, which drives a large hole in our tried and tested strategies to cope, and perhaps gives an insight into why we all suffer from anxiety from time to time and always have. Trying to seek certainty when the very existence of it is impossible invites a whole lot of pain. There are lots of names we use to describe this pain but it is collectively referred to as our Mental Health and one of the best mind gyms for a mental health plan is referred to in modern western philosophy as Mindfulness, and more traditionally as Meditation.
People are talking about sad times, when in reality uncertainty is the way of life and perhaps we all need to find more time for the mind gym. One of the things I do have right now is time, so I am going to give it another go….Yes, Ive tried before. I am sure we have all given a gym a go, but going consistently is of course the key, and when combined with a traditional body gym or physical exercise, that I have always built into my life plan regularly, my isolation can be a positive experience.
Inside out thinking teaches me that the only control I have is choosing how I think, process and react to outside stimulus. This after all is the ultimate control as we get to choose if we are happy or sad. Sounds good in theory but then we can’t play the game most of us engage in from time to time and seem to enjoy. In fact my observation is that it is a international pastime, played out in the media and even by our nations leaders. Yes, it’s the blame game.
Hit the reset button
Taking responsibility for the diet of information that I choose to listen to, how, where and with who I choose to spend my time, has a profound influence on my thinking. If I sought a more nutritional diet, working in a patisserie or selling ice cream or donuts for a living, would certainly make my task harder.
So self Isolation at least takes away the choice of who I spend time with but still leaves me with choosing to monitor the news, media and phone activity when the natural instinct is to fill my time with more…… We have the choice to use our time more effectively and hit the reset button, which in week two of lockdown, I for one am choosing.……Wish me luck!