Resilience and Sanity in a Time of Enforced Isolation

“The Quality, not the longevity, of one’s life is what is important” –Martin Luther King

The challenge of maintaining or improving your quality of life under our current life circumstance is wisely expressed by the Chinese symbol for crisis: “Danger vs. Opportunity.”

We are reminded of the dangers every day by both the news media and social media.

Opportunities abound with information on how to stay sane for both our physical and mental health.

We all need time to adjust to this new reality of our world and our lives. That means you may need some down time to process it all, to veg out, and just relax while you absorb how much your life has changed, not knowing when things will get back to “normal”—whatever that is for you, and what the new “normal” might look like.

Next, how much attention will you give to reading or listening to and following whatever recommendations could be helpful to you? This is important, because you will be creating your “new normal” in part based on the following recommendations.

If you are focusing on how you can stay “productive” and are getting frustrated because you’re not as “productive” as you think you could or should be, it may be time for you to redefine what “productive” is. Here’s my definition: “Anything that lifts your spirits, eases your stress and anxiety, and gives you time and space to reflect on and act on how you can improve the quality of your life.” By this definition, you have a unique opportunity: It’s the gift of time and space, with little or no external pressure. So, you can choose how to use that time.

The first step is to slow down, get quiet, and find your comfort zone. It’s when your mind and body is the quietest, that you can reconnect with your true self, not the life you are leading or the person you have become due to early life messages, current “societal standards,” pressures strong or subtle from mates, friends, employers, co-workers, and both news and social media.

Can you give yourself permission to do this? If not, those external messages are getting in your way. No one knows what’s best for you except you!

From what I’ve read most of the “opportunity” focus is on ways to maintain your relationships and social contact, exercise and eating well. Of course this is important.

What I haven’t seen much about, is the opportunity you now have to improve the quality of your life in some other ways:

1. Get in touch with dreams you’ve put aside due to the pressures of your work and personal life. May even be something you’ve wanted to do since you were a child. How can you revive these dreams and start to take steps to make them happen?

2. Evaluate the friendships and relationships you have and how well they are working for you. Have you kept them out of obligation, pressure, or habit? What value do these relationships bring to your life? If you have trouble with this, what can you do to make these relationships more valuable, or are you better off ending them? (see 3a) below)

3. The “getting to know you” opportunity. This applies to both your relationships with others your relationship with yourself. Most people tend to spend more energy trying to get to know others and much less time getting to know yourself better—the only person you spend 24/7 with! The following three areas can greatly increase your life satisfaction:

    a) With your relationships—how can you improve or change your conversations or other behaviors so that you can learn more about the other person? Instead of thinking about your response to what the other person is saying (research shows we start forming our responses to another person after about one or two sentences from them, in effect, we stop listening) https://extension2.missouri.edu/cm150 , focus on asking them to tell you more by saying, “and then what happened,” “what were you thinking about this,” or simply, “tell me more, I’m interested.”

“Again, the need for speed of our current world often forces us to simplify our interactions, to the point where they become useless. Based on just a few words, or a few sentences, we often create a perspective on some thing or some person, which may simply be inaccurate because we didn’t take the time to actually listen. Really listening means not only giving to the other the time to finish his speech, but also the exercise of borrowing his perspective. Listening means to actually see things from their point of view.” https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/6-benefits-speaking-less-and-listening-more.html

Also, what can you do for them that you haven’t done? Maybe you need to get into a dialogue with them to find out. You could begin your conversation with something like: “I’ve been thinking I’d like to learn more about you. What is most important to you in your life? “What are some things I could do or say that would make you feel more appreciated?”

If you are a “giver,” what about asking them to do something for you? My very wise father once said to me, “If you want to get someone to like you, ask them to do you a favor.” He was a salesman, and loved by everyone. Think about this: when you do something for someone else, how does it feel? For most of us, if we are giving from a place of generosity, not to get something back, it gives us a feeling of satisfaction and makes us feel better about ourselves, and actually causes the other person to like you more! That’s what you are doing for someone else when you ask them for a favor.

One caveat—avoid doing this with people who are “takers” or self-absorbed, and are likely not to respond well.

    b) With yourself—how much time have you spent exploring all those closed doors or empty rooms inside of yourself? How have you allowed other people’s perceived opinions or judgments of you to decide who you are? How judgmental or critical are you of yourself? Writing in a journal regularly with no agenda, just stream of consciousness is a very helpful way to understand yourself better, to learn greater self-acceptance and value yourself more.

    c) Empathy—both for others and yourself is an important part of the process
in improving these relationships, celebrating your human-ness and your quality of life. Empathy for others requires active listening and putting yourself in their shoes.

If you have difficulty with self-empathy, just imagine how a friend or relative who you respect and know likes you would respond to you telling them about some of your self-judgments/negative thoughts about yourself.

What can be scary to some is the absence of structure we are now faced with. To ease that discomfort and/or anxiety, people will turn to any quick distraction, whether it’s losing yourself in social media or TV, just for the sake of avoiding those feelings. It takes courage and desire to learn how to manage your discomfort in ways that will make you less anxious and gain more control over your life–both your inner and outer lives.

“If you’re not using this time to rest, reset, and prioritize your purpose and people
In your life, you my friend are wasting an opportunity you may never get again.
The world literally stopped and shifted for you to get your s___ together. If this
Is true for you, find out why.” –from Health vs. Wealth

I’d love to hear from you. Please send me any comments, questions, or suggestions you may have here. Your comments will be confidential unless you would like me to share them, with or without your name.

Feel free to send this article to anyone who might be interested.

Wishing you the best,
Shelli

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