Coming to Terms with Social Distancing

We all experience social distancing differently.

Each person has different emotions. It’s also true for me that my own feelings change from day to day, sometimes from minute to minute.

We have been under stay-at-home orders here for four weeks. In some ways, it seems more like eight weeks or maybe even three months.  

This is a partial story of my journey through this period of isolation. It begins with some challenges for me. It ends with today, when I feel in control of whatever aspects of my life I can control. I am feeling grateful instead of fearful.

Years ago, when I read Now Discover Your Strengths and took the accompanying assessment, I was not surprised to discover that my top strength was Learner.

I am always reading and learning. It is not surprising that I turned to reading about the psychological, emotional, and spiritual effects of our current situation.

The first week of lock down, for me, seemed like some surreal vacation. I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, with no schedule or expectations. That didn’t seem so bad. It was not long before I had the oppressive feeling that I was not living the dream. I actually considered that I might be in the midst of a terrible nightmare and I tried to make myself wake up.

For a week I could not escape the nightmare by sleeping. I wasn’t able to sleep more than one to three hours a night. I couldn’t wind down to nap and I worried every day about whether I would be able to fall asleep that night. I kept busy but felt constantly wired. That was a bad cycle.

Then, a great article, The Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief, popped up on my social media. The article described exactly what I was feeling. It explained that I might be experiencing:

  • Grief for what we’ve lost – normal way of life, close physical contact with people
  • Anticipatory Grief -fear of the unknown future, anxiety about that. Worse case scenarios 
  • Societal grief as well as personal grief

The article suggested things to do.

  • Think about the present, using all my senses to notice things around me
  • Think of things for which I am grateful
  • Let myself feel what I feel and then move on

I have never been a mindful person. I’m more inclined to always think about what’s next, what’s tomorrow or the next day.  That’s my norm, but in these abnormal times, the uncertain future was not a good place for me to dwell. I found the suggestions in this article were very helpful.

It seemed odd at first to focus on inanimate objects with all my senses, but doing that grounded me.

Thinking of things for which I am grateful was a little limited the first few nights I did this. My gratitude list has grown substantially through the weeks. That, I think has been the most helpful thing for me.

A birthday gift,  the book The Power of Pause, was delivered March 14. The stay-at-home order for St. Louis County went into effect March 16.  I started reading through this book, which I would classify as a Christian mindfulness book.

Right about the time I was wrestling with worry, I read this line from the book: “I am smack-dab in the middle of the sacred present.” Wow. That line, that whole chapter changed my perspective. Since reading that, I daily try to stop and think about where I am at any moment and how important each “now” moment is. It’s been life changing for me.

Recently, I discovered a new blog and a powerful post: “Don’t Quarantine Yourself from Living Today.” That too was worth reading.

I’m good now.

If you’re not okay, please follow the advice I heard yesterday from the president of The American Medical Association. She said if you feel anxious or depressed you should call your physician or mental health care provider.

Here’s a video for you. I realized last week I had been quarantining myself from music. I now spend some time dancing around the house to music.

If you like Mozart or birds, you might enjoy this Bird Song Opera.

Keep well and be grateful for each moment.

6 thoughts on “Coming to Terms with Social Distancing

  1. Like you, I am not a mindful person either. Always thinking about what is next. Having the kids, having meal times, having their school schedule helps but it can be overwhelming trying to think of ways to fill the other time an all the days ahead. I’ll try these tips to be more aware of my surroundings and feelings.

    Like

  2. This sentence”I’m more inclined to always think about what’s next, what’s tomorrow or the next day.” made me think about my own relationship with the present. After giving it some thought, I think I spend my time in the present but not in a mindful way but a reactive way. Rather than observing the present and rolling with it, the present happens to me and I combat it. I would categorize this as a pretty big aha moment for me, so know that you’ve positively changed at least one person’s life today.

    Liked by 2 people

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