We find ourselves in a situation which none of us quite know how to handle. We are faced with a new reality which brings with it a great deal of uncertainty and for many of us this is very challenging indeed. We find ourselves in the midst of a whole whirlpool of emotions, both our own and other people’s; anxiety, fear, disappointment, and loneliness to name but a few. There is also another emotion, however, which seems to be making its way into our collective whirlpool. That emotion is hope.
One thing that several clients have pointed out to me is the feeling that time seems to have slowed down. Indeed, for many of us, working from home, having fewer (if any) place to be, and the entire avoidance of commuting has left us with a lot more time on our hands. This general slowing of pace has made an impact on several aspects of our day to day lives as we all try to muddle our way through these bizarre and sudden changes.
On an individual level, people have more time to reflect. By this I do not mean that I imagine people are all sitting around theorizing about the meaning of life. Rather, due to the sudden and somewhat drastic changes, many of us have had to stop and reconsider the way in which we are living and what really matters to us.
We may also find that in all this freed-up time, we actually have an opportunity to feel bored. Hang on! Did she just refer to boredom as an opportunity? Yes, that’s right, I did indeed. It is only when we are bored that we can really connect with our creativity. In our usual day to day life, we are so surrounded by constant stimuli and demands on our attention, that we can barely keep up, let alone create anything new.
We all know the saying that ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. Never has a saying been more appropriate. We are all having to be innovative in the way that we do things, be it work, play, or socializing. Teachers are finding amazing ways of connecting with their students, fitness instructors are helping us stay in shape by moving online, artists are finding ways to share their art in new and exciting ways. We also seem to be returning to some methods of entertainment which perhaps have been neglected. We are reading, drawing, listening to or playing music, playing board games or building forts* in our living rooms. Despite, or perhaps because of social distancing, we are all looking for ways to connect with people. We’re keeping in contact with family and friends more, we’re checking in with those people who we sometimes might not have found time to meet, we’re setting up chats and online play dates.
Families are also getting to spend a lot more time together. I imagine some of you may be rolling your eyes at this one, particularly when you’re trying to have a very serious and important Skype meeting and your 6-year-old co-worker is demanding to know where her socks are. Nevertheless, hear me out, at best we would only ever have this kind of time with our family at weekends or during holidays. So yes, it is certainly exhausting and stressful to be with people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week but many people I have spoken to seem to be relishing this time spent together, albeit with the need for many long and relaxing baths which are not to be disturbed at any cost and noise-cancelling headphones. Couples are talking to each other and connecting on an even deeper level, parents are getting to play with their children, and children are enjoying teaching their parents how to play Minecraft.
If we look at an even wider circle, we see that communities are also coming together. People are actively searching for ways in which they can help, offering to hand out meals, do shopping or donate money to various organizations which are struggling due to this crisis. Employers are trying to find ways to support their employees despite facing uncertainty themselves. Individuals and even larger organizations are offering ways to help people by improving access to entertainment or offering free accommodation for those needing to quarantine themselves. Society is being empowered as a whole in the way that people are being encouraged to do their bit by staying at home. We all feel accountable, not only for our own health but for our loved ones’, society’s and all the people working day and night in the healthcare services. Although we are all having our own unique experience of this situation, it is one in which we are all impacted to some degree and so we all feel the need to contribute in any way that we can.
To come back to where we started, I think it is probably safe to say that we would all like things to return to what they were sooner rather than later. We are all, in our own way, struggling with the fear and the uncertainty, but what I have seen so far in terms of people’s resilience and compassion, has given me a great deal of hope. Hope, that not only can we get through this crisis but hope that we can even create a brighter future when we care for ourselves and each other in the way that we have over these last days.
*if you have never built a fort in your living room, you are missing out, no matter how old you are.