It feels almost surreal today, sitting at home writing this blog post. I would usually be sitting in my office typing this up, waiting for my next client to walk into my office, but today, I’m waiting for the sound of Skype. And in this world of change, uncertainty and the new buzz word of social distancing comes an increase of what is already an apparent reflection of a modern society – isolation. Funny, even our Prime Minister is telling us to isolate; doctors and other health professionals are telling us to stay at home, keep our distance. So, what does this mean for a generation and society where clearly there is already that natural sense of disconnection already? And what does this mean for us all in this ever-changing world where things are so unpredictable?
For many people, the things we have always taken for granted and are predictable may not be so available at this moment – our jobs are at risk, our businesses are quiet, our health is threatened. In light of our current Coronavirus outbreak, many people are facing unprecedented emotional, mental and financial stressors and are lacking in resources to manage these changes – with the added burden of having to socially isolate. Keep our distance, not go to the gym, not go to the pub, not go grab a meal with mates, or go to the cinema.
Research has shown that the magnitude of risk posed by social isolation is quite similar in size to that of smoking, obesity and physical inactivity. And in my opinion, given this economic climate too, levels of stress will increase, sleep will be affected, anxiety and depression will skyrocket. Throw into this mix self-soothing strategies of increased alcohol and other maladaptive strategies, that inevitably contribute to increased levels of domestic discord and abuse too.
So what can we do? We can do so much. Think about it. An average person has approximately 70 000 thoughts a day. If all of those thoughts are negative, self-destructive and a waste of time then guess what? Happy days? No definitely not. If you become more mindful, notice your thoughts, and use your biggest weapon – your mind, to actively and consciously think positive, empowering thoughts, then you have a better chance of feeling more positive. Catch yourself if you notice yourself spiralling into a downward thought process, unhook from that story. Notice if you’re spending time caught up in ruminating.
If you change your thoughts, you change how you feel. If you change how you feel, you can change your actions and ultimately your behaviours. This changes your brain. Your brain is wired to dwell on the negative, but you can rewire your brain, it is plastic, to notice the good, to take in the positive.
Embrace this time to slow down, to do the things you have been too rushed to do. Focus on your good health, your resilience and strength.