For many people, the rug’s been well and truly pulled from under their feet – including where you work, where you can go and who you can meet – and that’s unsettling to say the least. But a curious phenomenon is also happening…
Imagine a child on a busy beach. At the point they realise they’re lost, they scan the crowds, find their mother and run towards her all security restored. They don’t run to the wrong mother. The mother responds with great joy at having her child back safely.
Well, the same thing’s happening now with Countries. There’s something about being ‘at home’ that creates a feeling of safety.
Italy is having a particularly hard time of it and Italians all over the world have taken steps to go home; even though the borders are closed to other Nationalities, Italians are welcome. And having got their ‘children’ back home they’ve closed the front door to keep them safe; just like a family does; e.g. closed the border.
I can’t imagine an Italian saying, ‘It’s a bit dodgy in Italy, I think I’ll go to Portugal’. Would a Spaniard choose right now to go to France? Probably not. Even though the virus is spreading uncontrollably across Spain, they wouldn’t be welcome. It’s the same in the US, Hungary the Netherlands, South Africa, Kenya and, it would seem, the whole of the rest of the World.
People who find themselves stranded are desperate for ‘home soil’. Those poor people on the Cruise Liner in Japan just wanted to get back to the UK. People who find themselves in a land where the flights are being cancelled on Thursday, will crowd into the airport and do all they can to get on a plane. There are 600 Britons stuck on a cruise ship as I write.
And once people are back home, they follow the family rules. In the UK, we’re heading towards protecting the elderly, vulnerable and the NHS. I’ve just heard that the EU is now banning non-essential travel across the bloc; apart from people returning home. The Customs green lanes of old are being restored and the BBC has just said there are no plans for food rationing. WHAT? Nobody mentioned food rationing?!!
And all the time, you’re at risk of being infected with the virus.
This is enough to unhinge the most rational person. It’s unprecedented, and there’s a growing anxiety particularly among people who now dread being isolated for an extended period of time. So, what’s the best way to look protect your Mental Health, look after your Wellbeing, and deal with the anxiety?
Here’s a simple technique.
Choose a place at home where you feel safe and secure and a particular spot in the room. This could be your favourite room or the garden shed. The special spot could be your favourite chair or could be the stool by the wheel-barrow. You choose.
Decide what you need to wear to feel safe and secure – could be your slippers or a special hat* [never underestimate the joy of a special hat] or a toastie warm blanket.
Prepare an activity you can lose yourself in. Could be painting, reading a book or a hobby; for example, a 5000-piece jigsaw; especially where you’re trying to find one bit.
Try it out. For example, go to the room find the chair, put on the hat, do the activity and make sure you feel safe and secure. Really feel it.
NEXT TIME YOU FEEL ANXIOUS: Go to the place, put on your outfit [hat!] and allow yourself to have fun.
By doing this, you’re starting the process of feeling safe and secure and the habit of not worrying.
What we’re talking about is Willful Distraction. When you lose yourself in an activity, you’re distracting yourself from the things you were worrying about a moment ago – even if only briefly at first; but all the brief moments will add up.
The reason I like Willful Distraction as a technique is that if you’re anxious, clearing your mind and thinking calm thoughts is hard to do, but distracting yourself overrides even the loudest chatter in your head.
[*Re the Special Hat. I was invited to a fancy-dress event and couldn’t think what to go as. So, I fabricated a truly flamboyant hat out of a length of chiffon, a diamond tiara (£5.99 from Amazon) and a pen with a giant feather, and I behaved as an Artist. What happened was unbelievable. Over the evening, so many people wanted to talk to me, some even thought I was the British artist Tracy Emin. It was such fun 😊.]
Personally, I believe we can all be Confident in the way we’re being guided by the scientists and epidemiologists and the more you can go with what they are saying, the less there is to worry about.
My household is in the high-risk category so I’m home for 12-weeks at least, but I feel safe and grateful and will for however long I remain here.
I wish everybody well as this next phase begins.