All over the world there are millions of people dealing with issues such as anxiety, depression, loneliness, frustration, fear and panic due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Isolation, illness, loss and the rapid change in ‘normality’ cause many people to succumb to emotional and psychological disorders. We are in a period of rapid change. In evolutionary biology this has been dubbed, by Professor Stephen Jay Gould, Punctuated Equilibrium. Humanity is being forced to evolve extremely rapidly by this pandemic. It is a situation outside of our control which can be extremely stressful and disconcerting. It can cause people to succumb to toxic propaganda and conspiracy theories and thus cause disruptions in interpersonal relationships, families, work, political organizations and other social structures.
This will increase and become more widespread until the pandemic is over and even after the pandemic is over the number of people around the world suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, PTSD, will be a mental health pandemic of global proportions due to the fact that most people do not have the skills or tools to deal appropriately with the psychological and emotional issues that arise due to the pandemic, toxic propaganda, social unrest and associated mitigation efforts.
The isolation associated with having limitations to movement and normal daily activities can cause profound anxiety and depression. Most people are used to socializing and being able to go where they want when they want. Most people use their ability to move around to socialize, go to the gym, attend events, go shopping and to go out and be entertained as a distraction. It is addicting. Having to stay at home forces one to be alone with their own thoughts and emotions which forces introspection. This can be terrifying and depressing for many people. Most people spend their entire lives avoiding introspection and deep self-awareness for fear of what they might find or what they do not know. Deep self-awareness can appear as a dark and mysterious place to those who have not taken the risk of exploring inside themselves.
These days there are many distractions that most people have access to even when they are forced to stay home. The internet provides entertainment, news and communication possibilities with others. Many people are still able to work remotely and stay very busy this way. People can also exercise at home or by taking walks close to home depending on where they live. People can learn new skills and hobbies and improve existing skills. Some people will play games with family members or with others on the internet. Some people will use food as a distraction. There are thousands of distractions available even when isolated at home and it is perfectly fine to participate in and to enjoy most of these distractions. They are an integral part of living and enjoying life.
But these are all just distractions and if the avoidance of anxiety, depression, fear and other emotions is the motivation for constantly keeping the mind and body active and occupied then the core issues, the anxiety and depression will still be there under the surface ready to overwhelm at any moment. Distractions will not cure the core issues that cause depression, PTSD or anxiety. Alcohol or drugs will not cure anxiety or depression, they too are distractions.
If one wishes to live a fulfilling life and thrive even during a lock down, chaos, social upheaval or pandemic then it is essential that they deal with any issues, beliefs, poor self-image, emotions, history and reactions that can cause depression, anxiety, fear, ignorance, panic and other life limiting experiences. Actually, a period of forced isolation is a perfect time to deal with all of the inner issues that limit us. It is the time when we are forced to confront our beliefs, fears, issues and history without the benefit of the vast array of distractions available in our world.
So my suggestion is to use this time productively to become self-aware. Get to know yourself deeply and honestly. Confront all those fears, anxieties and self-limiting beliefs. Learn to deal with them appropriately and effectively and to overcome them. Here is a very short list of a few tools you can use to do this now no matter where you are:
- Learn and practice meditation. Practice every day at least two times a day. You can use instructional articles or guided meditations to learn and to improve your skills.
- Learn and practice Mindfulness. You can practice Mindfulness all day every day if you like. The more you practice the more effective it will become for you. You will be amazed at how powerful this is. Even in the most ‘boring’ situations you will notice things that are fascinating and exciting. Even in the most anxious moments you will find peace. It does take practice but it is not difficult. Here is a beginning Mindfulness exercise you can begin with.
- Learn to develop deep self-awareness. You can use meditation and Mindfulness as helpful tools for this. I have posted many articles about how to accomplish self-awareness as well. Self-awareness is the most powerful skill you can develop in your life. During this pandemic and isolation use the time to develop this skill. It will serve you well for the rest of your life and it will change your life for the better.
- Developing flexibility, the ability to adjust your mindset and to change your beliefs is essential. Of course this requires introspection and, at least, superficial self-awareness. Rather than dwelling on what you cannot do and what is unavailable, focus instead of what you can do and what is available. Some quiet time, objective assessment, creative thinking and list making can be very helpful in these pursuits. Being able to adjust to change is essential to survival and the ability to thrive.
- Asking yourself questions like, “How can I improve my life and my future during these periods of isolation and change”? “What new skills can I learn and develop”? “What can I do to help others get through this”? “How can I generate new revenues, create new innovations and solutions or improve my work or my business”? “What fun and interesting activities are available to me”? The answers to all of these questions are rooted in an essential skill set based upon quieting the mind and emotions and learning to listen objectively to your inner wisdom. The answers are already available to you but you must be very still, quiet, non-judgmental and objective to hear them and to act upon them. It might be beneficial for you to read my article about Accessing the Universe of Ideas and to work with the accompanying guided meditation.
- I also suggest, if you are able, to work with a good psychotherapist to help, support and guide you. It can be difficult to deal with issues like anxiety, PTSD and depression on your own so if you are able to enlist the help of a therapist do so. Now is the time. Contact me if you feel inspired to do so. Sessions are conducted via video conferencing so you do not need to leave your home to get therapy. Consider it an investment in your future. During this period of isolation and lock down you have the time to do the therapeutic work necessary to get beyond your limitations, beliefs, issues, history and fears. You also have the time to deal with depression and to learn how to make sure it never returns to overwhelm you ever again. Now is a perfect time to do this.
Use this time of isolation to improve your life and your future. For yourself and for all those around you. By using this time to deal with your personal life and inner world now you will be able to avoid future issues like PTSD, debilitating anxiety and panic and depression for the rest of your life.
© 2020, 2021 Jon Shore
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