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Archive for the tag “#staysafe”

Languishing

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Do you feel it too? It’s quite common nowadays. That sense of not moving forward, of being underproductive, of aimlessly drifting in life. There is a term coined for it: it’s called languishing. Quite the opposite of flourishing, it’s the sensation of feeling empty and stagnant. Of feeling “blah” and “meh”. It’s the loss of purpose that two years in a pandemic have caused. That absence of meaning for anything we do.

As this NY Times article explains: “Languishing is the neglected middle child of mental health. It’s the void between depression and flourishing — the absence of well-being. You don’t have symptoms of mental illness, but you’re not the picture of mental health either. You’re not functioning at full capacity. Languishing dulls your motivation, disrupts your ability to focus, and triples the odds that you’ll cut back on work. It appears to be more common than major depression — and in some ways it may be a bigger risk factor for mental illness”.

People worldwide have been affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic to a level they cannot explain. Hence, the term invented for this inexplicable feeling. We are dispirited, discouraged to do more. It often appears that we’ve lost the will to do something astounding because we see no point in it anymore. Our mental health is perhaps our most valuable asset and what has been most severely affected by this pandemic. Yet, we usually don’t recognise it, sometimes because we don’t want to admit it, and most times because we can’t really explain what it is that’s wrong.

We’re angry more often than usually. We become irritated by the slightest of things – by the tone of a person’s voice, the queues at the supermarket, the agitation in traffic jams, the high prices, the stalling of public transport, the inefficiency of the public service… anything can spark a distress that is difficult to mentally control. And then it becomes a domino effect of things going wrong, adding to the existing stress and the thoughts about the futility of it all.

Counsellors advise you to name your emotions, to get in touch with your inner self through mindfulness, to take it easy and give yourself time to go through the process, to relax and enjoy things as much as possible, to generally ‘be present’. We are told to focus on small goals because they are more easily achievable and bring satisfaction all the same. To transcend this feeling we need to start small, acknowledging, however, what we’re dealing with. Managing mental challenges is a feat in itself. Immerse yourself in what you do, be it a project of any kind, or a Netflix marathon; if it absorbs your uninterrupted attention it will help keep your mind off existential questions. It also helps to speak to like-minded people, who keep you calm and optimistic about life. Changing the scenery also helps, from redesigning a room to travelling abroad.

Languishing is not a disease that can be healed. It is a state – of mind, of psyche, whatever you may call it – that is greatly affected by the circumstance in which we live. Perhaps not everything is in our hands to control, but the way we react is. What we can do is realise that the best way to defeat whatever is bringing us down is to face it head on, and simply not let it. Whatever disrupts our mind, is what overpowers it and guides it too.

The value of a lockdown

©MCD

So we’ve spent perhaps one of the strangest Easters of our time. But we managed to celebrate it as much as possible, with people who are far yet near with the aid of technology, with love and wishes that know no borders, and with optimism and positive vibes that everything will pass and we will meet again soon.

The truth is that if you’re not in hospital, if you’re not sick, if you’re “stuck” at home with your family, if you even have a home, if you’re not entirely alone in a house away from your loved ones, this Easter in quarantine was not your worst Easter. In fact, it may even be your most memorable one. Because it taught you lessons you so far failed to see.

How to spend time with the people you share your home and life with; who matters and who cares enough to be around even if they can’t see you in person; the importance of exchanging wishes and words of encouragement even if no physical interaction may be involved. But most importantly, it revealed the reinvigoration of going outside for fresh air, for a walk in the park, or around your neighbourhood – parts of which you just recently discovered. How to spend time slowly, relishing every moment of it, to pause, to breathe, to enjoy things that we missed or didn’t have time for.

The lockdown is actually forcing us to slow down our pace of life and in the process to actually live our life.

And as we relax, inhaling the cleaner air around, we wonder why we haven’t lived like this for so long. Why this wasn’t the normal we are all longing to return to.

There will come a time when we will reminisce the weeks we were forced to stay home, learning to value the time we have and appreciating the small things that we miss, despite our constant moaning about our confinement.

Wouldn’t it be great if we would have learnt something out of all this and changed some of our habits?

“In the rush to return back to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to” – Dave Hollis

In the time of Coronavirus everything is changing. Are we?

https://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/65279

It is obvious that our lives are changing and with it our daily routines. Whatever we so far considered “normal” may not be as such when we eventually exit this unprecedented crisis. Even the concept of what is “normal” has now obtained a controversial meaning, along with whatever we previously considered as given or obvious facts, such as the need for cleanliness which, although formerly seen as an obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), now has become an imperative necessity.

The fear of contracting the coronavirus (Covid-19) during its violent and uncontrollable spread is now accompanied by the anguish of when cities and markets will regain their pulse after weeks or even months. What scares us the most is the unpredictability of all this.

We are treading on unchartered waters, moments that will remain engraved not only in our minds, but in global history. And we are unprepared for it. Because instead of investing in research and health programmes – in the essential – we grant importance to the ephemeral, things and people who in times of crisis will have no value or use.

There are many theories circulating regarding the Coronavirus. How it is a conspiracy of the strong and powerful to further manipulate and subdue the weak masses; on the conflict between East and West; on economic interests etc.

Whatever the case, the current pandemic constitutes both a challenge and an opportunity.

It is a challenge for healthcare systems that have broken down due to lack of infrastructure, and resources both human and material; for state aid to be offered to those most affected; for social solidarity that is necessary now more than ever; for individual responsibility that many continue not to comprehend; for our mental health primarily, and for every kind of relationship we have.

This absence of regularity, the abrupt disruption of our daily lives, our routines, has shaken us to the core. This is aggravated by the fear of the economic impact or an imminent financial crisis, together with the lack of connection with other people. Suddenly, we find ourselves with an abundance of time, but no people to spend it with. All this heightens the feeling that we have lost our sense of safety. And this in turn makes us miserable; it brings upon us an undefined grief.

It is only if we manage to find the positive in a negative situation, that we will be able to fight it; to save ourselves both physically and mentally. For every illness, the remedy is always a strong immune system – resilient antibodies – to be able to cure ourselves. The same goes for the thoughts that we allow to occupy our minds. A head full of fear has no room for dreams. So let’s be optimistic, because as Winston Churchill said, “it does not seem too much use being anything else”.

The truth is, we should be grateful about how privileged we are that amidst a global pandemic we have been ordered to stay at home – in our refuge – in the safety of our own space, reading, watching TV, working, creating, with a full fridge and few worries, waiting for this all to end. Most of us are called to fight this invisible enemy from our couch.

Yet, we complain for the opportunity to get away from the routine we constantly criticised for draining our energy and leaving us little time to do the things we really want. Here is our chance to remember our hobbies, to watch TV, to learn something new, to read books, spend time with our loved ones, to (finally) get acquainted with technology, to invest time in ourselves and our priorities and evolve stronger, improved.

But we still complain. When other worse hit countries are forced to choose who to save because their healthcare systems are overwhelmed. We complain because we are staying home, when there are people who don’t even have that. We spend a lifetime staring at a screen, yet now we suddenly all want to go outside. The forbidden is always sweeter, they say. Even now, under these dire circumstances.

In the time of Coronavirus, everything is changing.

And when all this shall pass – because it will – what will we be left with? Apart from an earth that has pushed a small ‘pause’ and managed to heal itself, and leaving aside reports about a new hantavirus, what will we have learned out of all this? Will we wash our hands and our communal spaces better? Will we maintain social distancing? Will we consider that our individual actions have an impact on others? Will we appreciate more the time we have, the people around us and everything we consider as granted? Will we view life with a different lens?

The Coronavirus pandemic has proven how unprepared we are, because we consider so many things – even health – as granted. It is a shock on the global health system, on governance, security, but mainly on our values. It showed that everything around us is so temporary. Things we revolved our lives around: our work, gym, cafes, malls, cinemas, society itself, have all become irrelevant as we are now learning for weeks to live without them. It has taught us that we are so technologically advanced we can actually work from home, i.e. anywhere, and we can remain more connected than we believe. But in the end, it is up to us to demonstrate that the lives lost daily are not in vain. It is our responsibility to change ourselves to change the world.

Quarantine news

©Douglas M. MacIlroy

I had a visitor today! Wait, I’ll show you. I managed to take a photo”. She scrolled through her photo gallery on her phone, while her friend was patiently sipping his coffee on the other end of the line. He smiled at her through his screen as he saw her eyes light up with enthusiasm at the news.

It was their daily teleconference. Well, the morning one. Others would follow during the day.

It was the new quarantine routine. Some moan about it, while others do their best to show that distance doesn’t matter and it can’t keep us apart.

Also part of Friday Fictioneers

It’s as simple as this

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Humans have an impertinent nature. It is a given fact. We don’t like to be told what to do and most often than not we will do the exact opposite of what you tell us. Because we can. And we feel superior by doing so. As if disrespecting you or regulations will give us impotency and show that we do not ‘bow down’ to others. That’s the mentality.

Similarly, during the time of Coronavirus, when the entire world has shut down and streets everywhere are empty, we have been ordered to #StayHome to #StaySafe. Yet, there are those – a surprisingly large number of them – who don’t comply because they don’t want to; because they are bored at home; because “they’re fine”.

People who work from home long before it became a trending necessity, know very well what it feels like to spend your entire day in the same space. But there is always something to do. If you don’t work, you can find things to keep you occupied and creative. It’s your time to relax, learn, read, watch movies, fix your home and garden, invest time in yourself. For the sake of it, all we’ve been asked to do is sit on our couch to #SaveLives. Why is this so difficult to understand?

There are so many people out there still working. They go to their jobs daily, with the constant risk of contracting the virus, simply to keep the world still moving. Many of them would very much like to simply stay home. Like we’re supposed to be doing.

Restrict your movements. You don’t need to be outside “exercising” every day, when you’ve never done that so far. The sooner we all comply, the sooner we will all be able to continue our lives. It’s as simple as that.

Maintaining continuity

A good advice to survive a dramatic change in routine is to maintain continuity in your daily habits. Wake up early, stick to meal times, exercise. It’ll all pass. Just make the best of it.

Also part of Weekend Writing Prompt #150

When all this shall pass

© MCD

For you to see the stars, you need a dark sky. That is the only allegory suitable to describe how to remain optimistic and patient in order to see the positive in a gloomy and tragic situation.

Staying positive, doesn’t mean you have to be happy all the time. It means that even on hard days you know that better ones are coming”. That is something we need to remember now more than ever.

Because around the globe, restrictions of movement, closed borders, bans on public gatherings etc, are all commonplace at the moment. We are all self-isolated….together. We are all in this together. Most of us are called to fight an invisible enemy in an unprecedented war from our couch. Others are on the frontline working night and day in hospitals, witnessing the painful consequences first-hand. All we are called to do is to #StayHome, #StaySafe, so they can help us out of this.

Viewed in another perspective, the whole world is frozen at the moment. As if someone pushed a ‘pause’ button and ‘regular’ life simply stopped. For how long, nobody really knows.

Sometimes even the hardships serve for a higher purpose. It is during the hard times that we realise how strong we truly are. (“We all have an unsuspected reserve of strength inside that emerges when life puts us to the test” – Isabel Allende) And we acknowledge what truly matters. The Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has proven that everything around us is so temporary. Things we revolved our lives around: our work, gym, cafes, malls, cinemas, society itself, have all become irrelevant as we are now learning for weeks to live without them. It has taught us that we are so technologically advanced we can actually work from home, i.e. anywhere, and we can remain more connected than we believe. It is in our own homes and families in the end that we will remain safe. We learn that distance cannot keep emotions away.

But when all this shall pass – because it will – we will come out reborn, we will have learnt (hopefully) to not take anything for granted, to appreciate everything and everyone we have more. Because it is in this distance and isolation that friendships will be tested and relationships will either be reinforced or shattered.

Like Victor Hugo said, “even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise”. Every day is a lesson: the good days offer happiness and the bad ones, experience.

No storm lasts forever. But if we can stay positive in a negative situation, we win. It is up to us how to manage the situation we are in. “Fear has two meanings: Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. The choice is yours”.

We can’t change how all this started. But we can change how we deal with it from now on. And certainly what we will learn out of it. To become a bit more humane, empathetic and less selfish. To value the little things in life. To be kind to everything that is alive. And above all, to wash our hands.

Social relationships under self-isolation

https://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/64806

It’s interesting to witness how a state-imposed self-isolation affects our social relationships. Funny memes are going viral in that, during just the first few days of quarantine due to coronavirus (COVID-19), people are rediscovering their homes and the people in them.

If we choose to remain optimistic and see the positive in every situation – even this one – we may realise that this is an opportunity to take a pause and allow the world itself to breathe. By staying home, the decrease of environmental and atmospheric pollution is already evident. But there is more to that: we can take a break from the routine we keep complaining about and rediscover ourselves and the people around us. We live in a world where we can communicate with everyone / anyone anywhere at the click of a button, we can work from home, view films and series, tour museums online, read books, go online for shopping. There are so many things available at our fingertips.

It is during this time that we acknowledge how important it is to have people around us who we can communicate with even if only via a digital chat. People who can keep us strong and positive, and with whom we can exchange useless information simply to keep each other distracted and busy enough to forget to despair that we are “stranded” at home.

Some of us are actually “stranded” in another country away from our families. And due to the closing of borders as tight precautionary measures we will have to wait for a few months it seems to be able to hold them again. Because via videochat we can see each other every day and check-up on each other.

This is the time to realise that we can never tell what the future holds. Even if we plan things, they may not turn out the way we hope.

Most of all, we are given a chance to acknowledge all the things we take for granted and don’t appreciate. First of all our health and the time we have with our loved ones.

Let’s seize this opportunity to stay home, stay strong, stay safe, and keep our families and friends safe too.

Nothing lasts forever. Not even this.

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