We all seem to be in the same quarantine boat, well most of us anyway. To keep ourselves and our families healthy, we have to stay inside, avoiding contact with our friends, neighbors, and people in our community. It’s tough, but some people are finding it more difficult than others. Many people have become very creative in discovering ways to keep themselves and their children entertained and occupied. I salute and admire them.
Then there are those whining about how tough it is to stay inside their own homes. I get it. Having to stay home to stay alive is stressful. But for God’s sake don’t make it more stressful than it needs to be. Spring cleaning, attending to neglected chores, and tidying up your life and house are not stressful. Worrying that you MUST have something to do is stressful. We may be in this situation for a long time so there are very few things we MUST do, such as eating and staying healthy.
Many people on Medium are saying that this is the perfect time to write more, every day. Just what we all need more stress. Unless you work from home and earn a living through writing this advice is ridiculous. I’m not talking about those writers who currently make their living here, I’m talking about those people who do not depend on Medium income to pay their rent or feed their family. I’m talking about people who think or hope they’re going to make a living writing for Medium, by writing as much as they possibly can. You’re going to end up pushing yourself to write, regardless of whether or not it is any good. You’re going to check your stats even more that you did before and you’re going to become depressed because you’re going to earn less than you had hoped. Meanwhile, you’re neglecting the rest of your life.
Those of us who do not routinely work from home or do not have children to homeschool are used to staying at home, even though we now are being told to, so sheltering in place should not be a big deal. But for those of us who are staying at home, through no choice of our own, it is a big deal. Why do you have to write more, or work more to endure this extra time you have? Why do you HAVE to do anything out of the ordinary during this shutdown? Why do have to stress yourself out more than necessary?
Could it be you’re afraid of spending time with yourself? I’m not talking about being lonely. I’m talking about being alone. They are two completely different situations. A person who is used to being entertained by constantly being in the presence of other people will be lonely once those people are gone. That person will be alone and probably lonely. A person who lives off the grid in the wilderness, is alone, by choice, but not lonely. A person can also be surrounded by people most of the time and be both lonely and alone. The difference between the two may be how you feel about yourself.
Often, when a person’s spouse or lifelong partner dies, that person will feel alone and lonely because they have been totally dependent upon their partner for everything. Once they have recovered from their loss and realize they can care for themselves they may no longer feel lonely. The sudden death or departure of a significant other can force a change in the status of an individual, but it doesn’t change the social environment of the individual or limit the possibilities of social interaction. This pandemic is different. It can force a change in social status as well as limit social interactions.
For most of us, the pandemic has forced a new reality on us all. For those of us who consider themselves introverts the change may not be that drastic, or even noticeable. But for the rest of us, it’s a major change. People don’t have jobs to go to or are working from home, so they no longer have physical contact with their fellow employees. Children aren’t going to school and interacting with their fellow students. Gyms are closed and we no longer have gym buddies. Bars are closed so we no longer have drinking buddies. All we have now are our immediate families, our pets and for some, just ourselves. And plenty of time!
Indeed this is a stressful time, but we don’t need to make it worse by adding more stress to our lives. Maybe we can use this time to get to know the person we are going to spend the rest of our lives with. Ourselves! If we are living alone we can easily accomplish this. If we are living with other family members we can sneak away and find our own alone time, whether it be in the basement, the bathroom, or the closet.
We can reconsider the world in which we live by simply gazing out the window and observing nature. Nature has not been quarantined. We can watch the birds go about their daily business. It’s spring and they are starting new families. For myself, I have been watching a rabbit build a nest in our yard in preparation for giving birth to some little ones. These are some things that we probably have previously ignored as we were busy with ourselves. While we are quarantined and feeling sorry for ourselves life indeed does go on.
We can simply sit and look deep inside ourselves and try to understand what makes us who we are. We can explore our strengths and weaknesses, as well as our past and present. We can look at why we are successful or not, or if we are happy or not, or why we have many close friends or not. We can look at how we got where we are today and if our struggles along the way were worth it. We can try to see us as others see us and if that’s the way we want to be seen. We can examine what we may feel is wrong with our lives and how we can change that if we want.
And we can do something that very few of us ever do. We can look at our darker sides. Let’s face it. We all have a darker side, that we ignore or hide, or are too embarrassed to admit we have. Very few of us let that part of us come to the surface, or maybe it does and we don’t realize it. By looking at our dark side we may be able to understand why we sometimes act in a way that is not entirely within our nature like when we are upset, angered, or stressed. By realizing we have a dark side and examining it we can more effectively control its expression and possibly feel better about ourselves.
Finally, we can simply sit and do absolutely nothing. There’s nothing wrong with that. It can lower our blood pressure, reduce our stress, relax our muscles, and feel extremely enjoyable. We can enjoy being ourselves. We may never get the chance to be alone with ourselves again.
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