We’re living in very strange times. Many of us were leading fast-paced and highly mobile lifestyles, before we were suddenly struck with a global pandemic. COVID-19has forced our society to slow down, and for many of us to live and work in the same place and cancel or postpone all non-essential events and interactions.The situation has seemingly limited our access to external stimuli;however, it doesn’t mean that it is helping us to stay calm or find our centre.If anything, it has given us the time and headspace to dwell on the uncertainties brought about by the pandemic. Dealing with these thoughts day in and day out can definitely take a mental toll onus.
The Effects of Lockdowns and Moving Forward
Some publications are dubbing the current pandemic, which has left some 2.6 billion people confined to their homes or workplaces, as one of the world’s biggest psychological experiment. We’re well aware of the possible results of being in lockdown for extended periods, though, and they’re not positive.
In a 2007 Australian study on horse owners who were quarantined after coming in contact with equine influenza, roughly a third of the respondents experienced extremely high levels of non-specific psychological distress. Participants in other studies reported emotional disturbance, depression, irritability, insomnia, and other negative responses while quarantined and the effects of the lockdown don’t disappear once it’s lifted. Many people still faced socioeconomic distress, stigmatisation, and rejection after they were quarantined, and these experiences continued to have negative effects on their mental and psychological health.
Finding Your Centre in a Rapidly Developing Environment
Understandably, the constant barrage of new information and dealing with ever-changing priorities can distract you from the things that truly matter. When the world demands too much from you, how do you step back, calm your mind, and focus? We have a few tips below that might just work for you.
Remember your non-negotiables.
Non-negotiables can refer to the things and activities you have to do to keep yourself healthy, but the term can also represent the values and principles that you are not willing to compromise on. Getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food, exercising, and spending time in nature can be under the first definition. You need these to maintain your lifestyle and to ensure that you feel and perform your best every day.
Non-negotiable values, on the other hand, guide you in your personal development. They are your primary considerations when making life decisions. Your core values are entirely dependent on you. It may be something as defined as family and professional growth, to concepts like freedom, peace, and independence.
If you feel that the world is trying to pull you into different directions, remember your values. Have you done everything you need to take care of yourself? Are your decisions aligned with the things and ideas that you deem important? Asking these questions can help you refine your priorities for the day and filter out information and options that may not contribute to your growth and goals.
Mindfulness can be defined as the practice of purpose fully bringing one’s attention to the present moment without passing judgement. Many people engage in this practice to gain control when they feel overwhelmed and if their attention is divided. Exercises that promote mindfulness, such as meditation and yoga, have been shown to alleviate conditions such as stress, anxiety, pain, insomnia, and even high blood pressure. Meditation can be done by slowing down and paying attention to your senses: what you can see, hear, touch, taste, and smell. This activity is often paired with breathing exercises.
Talk about it.
Sometimes, talking about the things that bother you and keep you from focusing on your tasks and goals can help you get back on track. Speaking to others when you’re overwhelmed can help you find relief, gain perspective, and receive much-needed affirmation. Venting is a healthy activity if done in moderation. At the same time, though, steer clear of complaint marathons. Remember that you want to communicate with other people so you can get what’s bothering you out of your system—you don’t want to bring down your friends and family.
Make sure you optimise your opportunities.
A little bit of proactivity can help you accommodate changes in a healthier manner. If you know that something is about to take place, why not anticipate it and make room for it in your life? This way, you’ll be able to prepare physically, mentally, and emotionally for what’s about to happen. For example, if there are signs that you’ll be going back to the office after working from home for so long, establishing a 9 to 5-friendly routine as early as now can help you get back into the groove of things.
In the end, just remember that taking a short breather to refocus yourself is a must in these strange and ever-changing times. When you feel that your concerns are starting to distract you from living a healthy and productive life, try these tips.