The philosopher William James reminds us that though humans find many reasons to separate ourselves from each other and from nature, we must realise that we are all part of the same creation to become our best self.
From a sociological and psychological perspective, I would like to share what I have learnt from Covid-19 so far. First of all, I feel it is important to include the five stages of isolation. Dr. Kimberly Norris, a psychological scientist who studies confinement and reintegration at the University of Tasmania describes the five stages of isolation and applies them to our current pandemic situation. Let’s look at the five stages outlined.
Fear takes over as people struggle to understand what is happening around them and how quickly life has been turned around. Widespread panic buying occurred.
When the initial panic subsides, people view the situation as a positive novelty to spend more time at home with family and reconnect with friends over video call.
The novelty of working from home and avoiding the morning commute quickly vanishes, replaced by a deep-seated resentment triggered by loneliness and fear with no physical interaction. The resentment stage is known as the third quarter phenomenon, a psychological phase first identified in the early 1980s in studies on extreme confinement and isolation.
Attitudes are divided between hopeful excitement and apprehension as restrictions are gradually lifted and the world braces for the ‘new normal’ of life after lockdown. Readjusting to society filled with more crowds and public transport is getting busier is a form of reverse culture shock. Again, it’s important to outline the mix of emotions here, that it’s absolutely normal to feel a roller coaster of emotion during this re-entry period, with waves of joy quickly overtaken by fear and anxiety.
The as yet unknown, when people return to their workplaces. Bars and restaurants open their doors for sit-in customers and international travel resumes.
Now that we understand the different stages of isolation, two important concepts are fear and flow. Fear is essentially being stuck, feeling static and may find it difficult to move forward. When we are in a state of fear, we can become negative and sometimes react irrationally. How can we counteract this? We can face the fear, take the challenge on and move forward.
Before the outbreak of Covid-19, the physical work environment created structure in the working day. Suddenly the sense of structure was gone. It was up to the individual to create a working systematic structure to bring into the home environment and to be mindful of personal and family responsibilities.
Where to find the balance? If one is busy, there is so much to do in one day. Where to begin? If one is not so busy, what do they do with their time? The added factor is the sight and sound of the negative news and the array of information on social media outlets. One may be stuck in negative thinking, stuck in the past and fear of the future. Concentration and energy levels are an added factor here. Without a disciplined daily routine, certain aspects can be affected.
Where do we go from here and what can we do to help ourselves? Firstly, let’s think of flow. How do we get to a state of flow and what is it? According to Daniel Goleman, an acclaimed Psychologist and author of many books in relation to Emotional Intelligence, he outlines that flow is a ‘state of neural harmony where only what is relevant to the task at hand is what is activated.’ It maximizes cognitive abilities and it is where people are at their best and most productive. Essentially, it is where we want to be, in the zone of optimal performance.
Not only is being in a state of flow good for overall optimal performance it also helps eradicate negative thinking. When one is in a state of flow, they are in a positive zone and they don’t have room for internal and external obstacles to get in the way. Being in a state of flow also helps one deal with any external obstacles that may come their way, being able to deal with it in a constructive and rational manner and to get the best outcome to the situation.
How to create a state of flow? It is to make the space within. This is where meditation comes in. Meditation is essentially being aware and to have focus and direction. When one learns to live their life with awareness, to live consciously and to make conscious choices, their whole life becomes a meditative experience. There are many different types of meditation such as reflection, contemplation, prayer, walking, guided, breath and mantra.
Once the ongoing practice of meditation takes place along with deep breathing, this can allow room to create the space within. Once this is in tact, we look at creative desire. Creative desire to creative outlet. Essentially, to find your creative outlet. Everyone has something to give on a personal level. Whether that is painting, drawing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument, the ideas are endless. Once one uses their mind and body in another way and are being creative and one gets a sense of satisfaction from their ability, this can allow room for flow to occur. Once this is activated, it can have a profound effect on one’s life both personally and professionally. It enhances productivity and again helps one deal with internal and external obstacles.
The important point to note is how to maintain the state of flow? Fine tune your focus in the present moment. Mindfully take everything in at this moment in time. Enhance enthusiasm and confidence, reduce the impact of resistance and negative inner dialogue and maximize focus and productivity. Integrate these techniques into the way one thinks and operates each day, one will be able to adapt to change and move forward.
Deep breathing along with meditative living, stretches, movement, good nutrition, good quality of sleep every night, fresh air every day, vitamin D intake and staying hydrated are important factors to keep the momentum going.
During this time, it is to learn from one another and to help each other progress. Take each day at a time while working from home. Live in the present moment, be kind to one another and comfortable in our own company. It is also important to note, we are not alone as after all, we are all connected to one another.