More and more colleagues, relatives, students and friends have asked these days for ideas to handle stress in Lockdown. Episodes of anxiety and sleeping disorders are mentioned as well, which is why I am writing this entry today.
Frustration, anger and fear to mention only a few, visit us ALL these days and they block us at times.
Learning how to deal with the unnecessary tension in your place that has become your workplace too, is a helpful ally in confinement.
RULE No. 1 is acceptance. It is my job to help find useful «tools to handle stress in everyday life during shutdown» and learn how to come to terms with rule no. 1.
Like, for instance…
A. Take one day at a time. And when you get up in the morning try not to think about «The Long Day in front of me and I cannot go out to work or do sport or meet friends». Instead, try to focus on how I feel this morning, how I am. Acknowledging those thoughts and sensations even if they are not too good. And say to yourself:
I am frustrated
I am tired of being locked in
I am worried
I am scared
I am exhausted
I feel isolated
I am alone
I am bored
And while you are sitting there, looking out of the window, welcome all those «guests» this morning as they are all with you today. And start living your day with the boredom, with the frustration, with the isolation, with the tiredness, with the worries and the fears. As they all keep you company these days.
You might realise there is also strength, or maybe happiness for friends and family to be alive. There is room for all here today.
You may even notice how as the day goes by new guests come and visit you, then go. Well, you are already handling stress by accepting that all this is happening today.
you are already handling stress by accepting that All this is happening today
B. From dawn till dusk take your time at least once a day to focus ONLY on what you are doing in this particular moment. Our mind wanders from past to future instances. Minds are thinking machines, and trying to stop that will only give us a terrible headache as that is what minds do! What may help is to try and concentrate on what you are doing whether it is making yourself a sandwich, writing your latest blog entry, working out, or sorting out your photographs. Do not blame yourself if your mind wanders while you’re trying to focus on that one thing because, in fact, minds wander all the time… even when one has been practising concentration techniques for a long while. And as you do, focus on how the air comes in through your nose, then out again. Breathing is the first thing that we do when we come to this world. It connects us to Life itself as it is happening, it brings us to the present moment not past or future. So get your eyes wide open and see if you can take notice of those things you really like doing when you are by yourself because now is the time. Let’s not wait until having been «released from our cages» to go and miss then all those days when we were at home 24/7 and could stay in bed a little longer before going to work in the morning or how close the fridge was from our office desk! Become aware now of the little pleasures that pop up for you throughout the day. Stay there for a while… there may be more than you «think» and that is how we connect to Life itself as it happens. Stay there. Stay. A little longer. And before you let this moment go and move on, breathe. Slowly. In, and then out….
the more pleasurable moments the easier the lockdown
C. At dusk, create a night routine that suits you before you go to bed. Take yourself to a calm place, maybe have a hot bath or a warm shower, or go for an evening «walk on the terrace», perhaps you might choose to listen to your favourite music or write that letter to this someone you always wanted to tell something. Avoid social media, coronavirus updates or latest news… they can wait until dawn. Give yourself some good quality time, you need a rest, you deserve some peace, you deserve a good night sleep. And if you should happen to wake up in the middle of the night do not force yourself to go back to sleep. Stay there and allow that to happen. Give yourself the space to pay attention to whatever is waking you up all of a sudden. And once again, welcome those thoughts and sensations as your guests as they come and they go, like they do during the day.