I was listening to a news report the other day about how this self-isolation period is affecting people’s mental health…it wasn’t particularly positive, surprise surprise. We are a busy society; we have information coming at us left, right and centre and we tend to fill up our time with as many things as possible, perhaps as a way of distracting us from how we are really feeling. Stillness is uncomfortable as it exposes everything that usually gets pushed to the back of our minds.
On top of that, there is an increasing pressure on us at the moment (predominantly generated by social media, I believe) to be using this time we all have now in the most ‘productive’ way possible. Matt Haig put it perfectly in his Tweet a couple of weeks ago, “the current era is crap enough without having to feel guilt that we aren’t learning Greek and painting watercolours of daffodils [everyday].” Perhaps it’s no wonder why so many of us are feeling overwhelmed and anxious during this weird, uncertain time.
On the other hand, while we are all feeling restless at home, the environment is thriving. Reports have stated that citizens in Northern India are seeing the view of the Himalayan mountain range for the first time in their lives, due to the drop in air pollution caused by the lockdown. In China, carbon emissions have fallen by 25% and in Venice, the water in the canals is clearer than it has been in years. There has even been an increase in sightings of rare birds in the UK due to the improvement in air quality. The world around us is using this stillness to restore itself.
Reading these reports made me think how we all could take a leaf out of Nature’s book (pun absolutely intended); we could be using this time to heal ourselves too by processing what is actually going on within us right now, by doing the things we actually enjoy doing (rather than the things we feel we should be doing) and by welcoming moments of peace and stillness instead of desperately trying to fill them.
This healing will look different for every individual, so we are not to compare. It may well be learning Greek and painting daffodils, it may be journalling or it may be simply staring out of the window allowing thoughts to come and go. Regardless of how your self-isolation looks, just remember that it’s okay to allow yourself to rest, to process and to take time (however long that may be) clearing the pollution of negative thoughts, feelings, emotions or even physical pain within the mind and body.