This week I was sent a Twitter link which had this interesting diagram attached, it got me thinking about our responses to what is going on for us right now in dealing with either lockdown, shielding or attempting to maintain a working pattern on the front line. As we, as a society, become more stressed with Covid 19 the pressure is on us. In all things this principle is true…
It is never what happens to us that is important
What is important is how we respond
I was listening to an Italian psychologist talking about the Italian public responding to their lockdown. He described how that in the first instance there was fear and then it was all excitement and novelty with the idea of doing all those things that were on the to do list. Then it was all the online communication, catching up with old friends and creating a online community. Then came the online exercise, keep fit, yoga, learning courses and craft classes. The world became full of box sets and re-runs of old TV series. Then came the boredom, the frustration and the cabin fever. By the fourth week people were really struggling and the levels of depression and anxiety were starting to rise.
I guess that very few of us came into lockdown ready and prepared. For most is was fear then novelty followed by shock. The diagram forwarded to me is really interesting as it suggests that, with a little self control we can create purpose and fulfilment, whatever our situation, including the current lockdown. If we go back to the diagram it shows three zones of human experience. I could say the zones are our choices though you have to first realise that you do have a choice.
Zone One: Fear
Can you remember all those people shopping like crazy for toilet rolls and stripping the supermarket shelves of food (you may have been one of them). At this point people are invested in self survival and have often lost the sense of community and care. Complaints, frustrations and angers come from not being in control, from being stuck in a situation where we are unable to do what we would normally do. At this point alcohol consumption increase as does bad behaviours and domestic violence and abuse. When fear is turned outwards it can manifest as aggression. When fear is turned inwards it can manifest as either depression or anxiety especially when it is overlaid with feelings of helplessness. Often binge eating begins with a reliance on carbs to boost the brains serotonin levels to try and raise our mood.
Zone Two: Learning
This is where the choice begins. Do we wallow in the depression, become over agitated with anxiety or do we use the situation to learn and grow. The decision to grow from our experience is the choice that we can make…
We don’t have problems we have learning opportunities
Taking a bit of time to stop and observe what we are doing, how we are reacting and what we are thinking and feeling will tell us a lot about ourselves and may raise areas that we might like to change, develop or grow. In the learning phase we can decide to stop being negative to stop putting our energy into unproductive thoughts and feelings and focus of the good things around us…
What you feed grow and what you starve dies
If you spend your time listening to news broadcasts and death statistics, chasing negative feeds through social media or Google then the world can become a very dark place full of despair.
What is positive? Captain Tom and his amazing walk to raise money for the NHS?
The positive mind says..
“wow isn’t that amazing that he has done it and that so many people have come together in the country to support him and the NHS”.
The negative mind says…
“it is disgusting that an old man should need to do all that walking and that people should have to give their hard earned money to support a health service that we pay taxes for anyway. This is bad government, who can we blame”.
Remember it is not what happens it is how we respond that is important
Zone Three: Growth
When we enter the growth zone we stop complaining and ruminating on negative things and begin to develop positive action, thoughts and feelings. We stop looking inwards and complaining and begin looking outwards to see what we can do, give, to see how we can help. There are so many people now entering the growth zone. Social media is full of people doing their best to help others and allowing themselves to be helped…
If we all look after each other we will all be okay
These three zones are about our entire life. Where are you at the moment? Which zone describes how you thing, feel and act?
If we are going to be in some form of lockdown for a while we could do a lot of positive things for ourself, for those that we are locked down with and for those around us in our community. This podcast and blog come out on a Thursday, which in my head has been renamed ‘Clap day’. It is the day when we say thank you to other people who are doing all that they can to look after us, run all our services and to keep us safe. Perhaps we could adopt Clap day forever in the future as the one day each week when we stop, check where we are up to, adjust any negative behaviours that we have and, say thank you to those around us.
Thursday, Clap day, Thank You Day.
Take care, stay safe, stay home.