Life isn’t easy. Even more so confined!
How can we take care of ourselves and adapt to this forced break? Indeed, all the small daily choices we make, put together, will have a significant impact on the way we negotiate this extraordinary life experience. So here are a few tips to help you find your way through this turmoil.
First of all, it is necessary to make our peace with this situation. It probably requires us to accept and give in, in order to best negotiate this epidemic wave – like a surfer negotiating a difficult wave they do not control.
- Accepting means not letting ourselves drown; it allows us to negotiate without getting bogged down in a struggle that will be a source of anguish or ruminations.
- Giving in to the reality of the situation and letting go of what we cannot achieve in this current predicament actually frees us to live this present time as best we can.
Eat real food: Try to avoid industrial food as much as possible; as it is linked with higher risks of obesity and depression. This is also an opportunity to eat mindfully. That is, slowing down to savour tastes and consistencies. Mindful eating allows you to prioritise pleasure over quantity and make this an opportunity to evolve your relationship with food.
Giving yourself a real opportunity for sleep: Many psychological disorders are due to sleep difficulties. Society’s countless and relentless distractions have taken a toll on our sleep time. Confinement can be an opportunity to regain the amount of sleep necessary for our health (on average 8 hours a day) and possibly take naps (no more than 30 min). It is also important to stick to a set routine by having regular wake-up and bed times. The desynchronisation of our biological clock can be the cause of anxiety and depression. It is also necessary to limit our screen time by not using our devices at least one hour before going to bed and by leaving them out of the room if possible.
Do some physical exercise every day, preferably in the morning from a chronobiological point of view: abdominal sheathing, exercise bike, stretching, abdominal exercises, yoga or online stretching classes, etc. Physical activity is anxiolytic and antidepressant. Human beings need movement.
Cultivate your social circle: Recent studies have shown that the main factor influencing how we age and how long we live is the quality of our social belonging. Physical distance does not mean social distance. Have Skype happy hours, take online sports classes, suggest that your children have playdates with their friends, etc.
Cultivate full self-awareness in our everyday actions: When walking, showering or doing the dishes, take the time to really be in the moment, and not lost in your thoughts. Learn to feel the present and be present for yourself. Be curious about silence, birdsong, the occasional sensory experience that presents itself to you, the passing of time… favour contemplation over mentalisation.
Diminish toxins: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, medications.
Perform meaningful acts: That is, to truly live one’s life by acting on what is meaningful to oneself and not be an observer or coasting by in that story. Indeed, the future is more uncertain than ever. We do not know what it holds. But what better place than here, what better time than now? Everything is an opportunity. This may be an opportunity to play, to love yourself, to create, to tell stories, etc. Dare! Much remains possible despite this confinement.
Have daily accomplishments (Cake, crafts, sewing, tidying up, writing a life notebook, etc.). This is an opportunity to try things, explore your talents and be creative.
Practice self-compassion: We are not perfect beings but vulnerable ones. Don’t focus on the outcome, this will lead you to judge and comment on your life. It is about your attitude, but also about how we have tenderness for our failures and vulnerability.
Hold back any negative words or reproaches, so as not to turn this confinement into an oppressive and tense moment. There will be plenty of time to argue down the road. Now more than ever, life together, confined, is a story of compromise and kindness. Do it for each other, or at least for yourself.
Practice gratitude: During the confinement of concentration camps, people who took the time to perceive and give thanks for the nice things that happened to them despite the horror of the situation were more likely to survive. When the women in the Auschwitz orchestra played music, they took time to give thanks for the opportunity to make music despite their terrible situation. Let’s take the time to be thankful for being alive in this moment, for breathing, for enjoying a ray of sunshine, for a bird singing, for having a loved one near us, etc. Gratitude has a strong impact on our psychological health.
Let’s help others: Helping and being of service also makes us feel good. So let’s not miss an opportunity to be generous and outstretch our hand without expecting anything in return. On the other hand, it is necessary to make the difference between helping and exhausting ourselves trying to save others. We take better care of others when we know how to take care of ourselves.
This is the ACT approach ( https://act-afscc.org/ ). ACT (for Acceptance and Commitment Therapy) aims to develop psychological flexibility by trying to get closer through our behaviours to what matters to us and to stop fighting what we have no control over. ACT shows that suffering and hardship are part of life and should not prevent us from living. It is up to us to choose how to deal with them.
Basically, it is to say that the ordeal of confinement is like that of the sailor who is caught in the storm or the fog. Wondering whether they will reach their destination is the best way for them to drown. Caught in the storm or fog, they adapt their sails and move forward, wave by wave, taking care of themselves, and telling themselves that they will eventually end up somewhere. We will get somewhere. It will also depend on how well we take care of ourselves on a daily basis. Good luck