By Carol Davies
Greetings fellow travellers. At this time of dislocation and isolation we are hearing frequently about vital self and community care behaviours. When it was suggested on the radio that the phrase “social distancing” was misleading and that “physical distancing and social contact” was more appropriate, I realized that I hadn’t heard much about strategies to build emotional resilience, so I’m presuming to offer some suggestions.
-Luckily at this time in our society we have a variety of non-contact ways of keeping in touch. It can be most beneficial to reach out regularly to another or others in whatever way possible. Sharing humour, worries, experiences, fears , offers relief and reassurance that we aren’t “an island”. Trying social media for the first time can be daunting for the uninitiated, but enormously satisfying when it works. I’ve found that people are more than willing to share their expertise without judgement.
-Notice the quiet beauty and spontaneous kindness that surrounds us, especially at this time of nature’s rebirth. Keep a list of these enriching moments under the heading “the nice things that happened today”. Writing of these experiences embeds them more deeply in memory and serves as a reminder when these moments seem illusive. Meditation doesn’t have to be a time consuming strategy, for example there are two uncomplicated, everyday strategies. Take a few minutes to really listen to the sounds around you, especially outdoor sounds; also, at the intervals of our frequent hand washing, focus only on this one task, breathing quietly while washing slowly and with care to all surfaces. Keeping our mind in the present moment allows for frequent small investments in the resiliency bank account.
-Attending to repetitive thoughts that can loop relentlessly through our brain is also noteworthy. These, often gloom and doom scenarios, is a type of rehearsing failure. Try to interrupt them with a favourite song (the alphabet song), a poem, a prayer, a comforting phrase from your favourite hymn. Yahweh, I Know You are Near. Give Me the Courage to Enter the Song. Healer of our every ill, light of each tomorrow, give us peace beyond our fear , and hope beyond our sorrow. Sing along with abandon to music you enjoy. ‘Strong and wrong’ can be liberating and good for the soul.
-Physical activity, according to our mobility level, is also essential to emotional well being. Aside from a good night’s sleep it’s best to avoid extended periods of napping or sitting. If walking outdoors isn’t possible, frequent mobility breaks from reading or screen watching can be a cumulative investment. Keeping up with regular routines is reassuring to the mind in times of upheaval. Aside from a good nights sleep it’s best to avoid lengthy periods of inactivity.
During this pandemic it has become frighteningly clear how easily physical contact can be a vehicle for spreading contagion. Let’s remember that we have an innate ability equally powerful to enrich our own well being, and that of our social contacts, by attending to our emotional health. We can all be ‘wounded healers’.
Carol Davies practiced psychotherapy for many years. She is a member of Christ Church, Bolton, and is married to Tom. We are grateful for her contribution.