How are you
dealing with the current health crisis? What are you noticing about how others are
managing? What can we learn from each other? We are being inundated with COVID-19
information and today I would like to offer a simple suggestion to help us
maintain some level of sanity during this uncertain time. As always, I will end
the article with questions for your consideration.
First, let’s briefly explore how the virus is impacting our lives. The current situation has left many people living more secluded lives, either mandated or by personal choice. Do you remember being told, “go to your room and think about it?” The intention was for us to spend some time alone thinking about our behavior. Usually, this measure was intended to be a learning experience but also had a punishment component from fed-up parents. Some of us hated being secluded, away from people and activities, and spent this time angry and moping. Others of us were perfectly happy to spend time in our rooms reading, writing, daydreaming, napping and taking a break from the drama of life.
We all react differently to life changes, crisis and the taking away of our power. Yet, at our core, most of us like to feel that we have some control over our lives. But, health scares, lost income, suddenly having kids home from school all day, a spouse underfoot, and investments failing can be life changing. Many people miss the hustle and bustle of work and the comradery that allows us to feel that we are a part of the world. It can be extremely difficult not knowing what to expect, what information to trust and how to spend our time.
We walk the aisle of our grocery stores keeping a safe distance and worry that anyone we come into contact with might be a virus carrier. We worry about our elderly parents and our neighbors. We miss spending time with the people we love. If we are in seclusion with “too much time on our hands” it can be harder for some people then others.
The more self-awareness we have, the easier it is to manage any crisis. Some of us are more highly dependant on social interactions then others are. Some of us do quite well in seclusion and manage to keep our minds and bodies busy in productive creative pursuits. Maybe we can learn a little something from people who are quite happy to be told to “go to your room.”
People who are highly extroverted fill up their energy tanks by regularly engaging with others. Healthy, frequent social interaction is critical to their mental health. These people solve problems by talking out loud, they enjoy and need the presence of others to be at their best. These people find seclusion difficult and need to find ways to maintain regular contact with others. Luckily, in our part of the world, this is easy to do with telephone, text, and Skype. It’s not the same thing, but we do have these in place.
But I think that we can learn something from our more introverted community members. These folks also need healthy interaction, but they are a little pickier about who they spend their time with. They use time alone to refuel. Many of these people enjoy their own company and are often quite adept at staying busy. These individuals will most likely spend seclusion time reading, completing projects, meditating, getting extra naps in, trying new recipes, beginning an exercise routine in the basement, writing letters, researching topics of interest online and having telephone or text conversations with a few select individuals.
I am not advocating for either extrovert or introverted tendencies. These are ways of being that are innate. Both have many wonderful strengths and challenges. However, the healthy introvert, in seclusion, has an advantage.
So yes, seclusion
can force positive introspection and if we allow ourselves to become curious
about how other people are managing, we can benefit. Some people will view the current
situation, as a realistic threat, but also as an opportunity to step away from the
hustle and bustle of the world. They will spend time nesting and reflecting on their
lives. They will use this time to think about who they are, what they have to
offer the world, what kind of relationships they want, and what they want for
themselves when this crisis passes.
1. What are my biggest challenges with seclusion?
2. What can I learn about myself as I live in a more secluded manner?
3. Who do I miss seeing the most or not seeing the most and why? (see people preference article)
4. What have I always said I would do if I have more time? How can I do a small piece of that from home?
Terri Lee Cooper MSc.RSW