What Good Can Possibly Come From Quarantine?

What good can possibly come from quarantine? Before you stone me for being insensitive to the seriousness of the Covid-19 virus or the hardships that many are suffering due to this virus and the quarantine, please hear my heart on this. I am sorry for all of the people who are and have suffered as a result of this virus, due to sickness, loss of life, lose of family members and friends, lose of livelihood, depression and even suicide. These have been the horrible results of this virus and the quarantine instituted in an effort to control the spread of this virus. I am also not here to debate whether the quarantine is warranted as this stage based upon the statistics or if your particular state should be opened or continue under a “stay in place” order. There are many more knowledgeable than myself who can’t agree on this topic but I would like to help you to stretch your view of what is currently taking place during this “forced downtime” which most of us are experiencing.

Whether you are able to work from home or are temporarily unemployed, I would like to propose that this time can be a reset for you and encourage you to stop wishing to return to “normal”. First, let’s look at what we had begun to believe and accept as “normal”. Most of us were overstressed, not getting proper exercise nor nutrition, spending too much time sitting in traffic, overworked, not spending enough time with our families, not giving enough time to our friendships, etc. I could go on but I think that some of you are beginning to acknowledge this and are somewhat enjoying the return to a simpler life. I would like to encourage you to look deeper than that to the place of questioning just how you can benefit from this time as you look at your future and your new normal.

I would encourage you to look at this time as a reset button, like the reset button on your modem or other device. This button allows you to clear the clutter and often to return to factory settings. I previously co-owned a telephone company and often we would encourage our customers to turn off or unplug their telephone systems in order to reset the device. We would laugh at how often this “troubleshooting” would eliminate the customer’s problem. What if, we are being set up to push the reset button upon our lives? What if, during this downtime, we begin to examine our lives for what we need to let go of and what we want to pursue?

For those who read my blog, you have often read of my encouragement to examine your life. “An unexamined life is not worth living.” is one of my favorite quotes. I personally have spent a lot of time examining my life and have encouraged others to do the same but this is even more than that. I have spoken with my clients about how they are doing during the quarantine and most of them are working from home, some are alone due to being single, many working at home with theirs spouses and some with children as well, some not living in the same state as their families, unable to do many of the things which they enjoy such as attend church, go out for dinner, movies, sporting events, concerts, bars, bible study, shopping or whatever. I have begun to see a pattern in the responses which I am getting. Initially, there was a lot of shock and even some grief over the loss of the things which they had previously enjoyed but as the weeks have gone on I am seeing some positive feedback as to what they are gaining through this experience and I am beginning to see positives in my own life as well.

Many are noticing that they enjoy spending more time with their husbands and children, many are enjoying their homes more and are doing projects around their homes and in their yards or outdoor areas. Many are cleaning out their closets and homes to remove things that they really no longer want or need. Many are exercising more as they take numerous walks or working out during the day and are making more of an effort to get outside on the weekends. Many are looking at their time working from home and deciding that they really love working at home and are looking at how they might continue doing that. Many are realizing some of the things from their “previous life” that they want to let go of and many are realizing that there are some things that their “previous life” did not contain which they would now like to include in their “new life”.

Maybe you are saying, “Good for them but I just want things to go back to what they were.” Well, are you sure? Maybe this is a great time to assess your life and decide if it is everything that you want it to be or if there are some areas which you would like to tweak before or once things “return to normal”. Have you gotten complacent and just continued on with the same old things out of habit and because change is difficult. Maybe your life could be more, maybe you could do more of what you love and less of what goes against who you really are or what you want to be. Maybe there is something that you have always wanted to do or some business which you always wanted to start. Maybe you have always wanted to go back to school. Maybe there is a hobby or skill which you have always wanted to take up or get back to, that you may have not explored in years.

Maybe you just want your life to remain at a slower pace where you can truly enjoy life and “stop to smell the roses”. I did that the other day in the middle of the day on a walk around my neighborhood and had to laugh. I must admit that this time is stretching me because I like to work and I also like to get out to hike or kayak whenever and wherever I want. This is definitely the time of year that I like to go to the beach and hang out with friends at various places or take trips but this is forcing me to look deeper. I would like to encourage you to look deeper as well. Join me and many others by using this time as a reset button for your life. You will thank me if you do and you may regret it if you miss this opportunity.

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Covid-19: What Are You Feeling?

As a result of the Covid-19 virus we are living in unprecedented times. Many of us are experiencing our third week of either self-induced or municipality-induced quarantine. Many of us are working from home. Many of us are struggling to make ends meet due to diminished or reduced income. Many of us are having trouble locating toilet paper and cleaning and sanitizing products. Some of us are sick. Many of us are unable to visit with family and friends. Many of us are experiencing inconvenience and life limitations due to this virus.

I am doing both face to face and teletherapy in which I meet with clients through video communication software. Almost all of my clients are having some trouble as a result of this virus and many are struggling to identify just what they are feeling. We can easily point to boredom, inconvenience, frustration and concern as feelings that we are experiencing as a result of this virus but there is something more that lives behind these obvious feelings. There have been many who are much more proficient writers than myself whom have broached this but I would like to share my take on this as it may have some merit and some may find it helpful in identifying their own feelings.

My contention is that we are feeling many things but that unknown, uneasy feeling is a combination of fear, sadness and grief. We are afraid of what is coming next as each week and often each day brings some new, not so pleasant reality. Will we find the food and supplies which we need when we venture out? Will we encounter some rudeness or curtness as we experience the brunt of the fear and anxiety of another? Will we encounter some new “rule or restriction” which will limit those already limited activities in which we can engage? Will the money last? Will the clients/customers stay or come back? Will we or our loved ones get sick, or worse? Will we lose our jobs or our businesses? Will we lose our minds or just lose it on our loved ones?

It makes us sad to not be able to continue life as normal. We are creatures of habit and are most comfortable in routine, scientists call it homeostasis, meaning the tendency toward a relatively stable equilibrium between interdependent elements, especially as maintained by physiological processes. At first we may enjoy working from home in our pjs, while being able to do some household chores, take a walk, play with our pets all while working and getting paid. After a while, however, we miss the routine of getting up, getting dressed and going to a familiar place to interact with familiar people, while temporarily leaving home and those we love only to return ready to interact with them. We love our visit to the favorite coffee bar, restaurant or hangout spot where we get that coveted drink, meal and interaction with friends. We miss going to church and to favorite activities in which we interact with our friends and others. We worry about those we love and those we know which are struggling with the result of this virus/quarantine. We miss shaking hands, hugging, holding hands and other personal touch, while not intimate it is certainly a personal need for most of us. It is also saddening to see people in fear and anxiety when we do encounter others out for a walk or for supplies.

We are grieving! We are grieving the loss of freedom, the loss of choice, the loss of interaction with other people, the loss of our normal lives. The stages of grief are very much alive throughout the community and we may find ourselves at very different stages than those of our loved ones and friends. The stages of grief are: shock, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, testing and acceptance. We have never experienced anything like this before and therefore we have no tools to aide us in this process. People who live alone are often experiencing huge amounts of loneliness and extroverts, who are energized by being with people, are struggling as well. My advice is to allow yourself to grieve this time. Recognize where you are in the grief process and journal or talk to someone whom you trust as to what you are feeling. Support is important. Make contact. Now I am not advising you to break the social distancing protocol but utilize the ways in which we can connect with others by telephoning, Skyping, Zooming, texting, Facebook, Instagram, saying hello to your neighbors if you walk by them or strangers at the park or store.

We are social creatures, created for fellowship with God and each other, so fear, sadness and grief are very natural during this time. We were not made for isolation and disconnection. Combat fear with faith, facts and reasoning. This will end and we will see the other side of it and hopefully learn and grow from it. Combat sadness with fun activities, funny shows or movies, music, dancing, interaction with pets or pet videos, getting outside in the sun and take a walk if possible, also exercise, rest and eat well. Combat boredom by taking on some of those tasks which you have been wanting to do when you have some time; now you do. This too will pass but in the meantime, let yourself grieve and work at overcoming fear and sadness. We are all in this together.

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