See, when life is moving along at a normal pace, we don't necessarily acknowledge the unique ways of coping with stress others adopt because we tend to operate on a level that's too self-consumed to notice the different ways in which people relieve their personal tension. "Yet, now that the coronavirus pandemic has made us all slow down, we are curiously observing our own quirky coping strategies and the coping strategies employed by others," says Carla Marie Manly, PhD, clinical psychologist and author of Joy From Fear.
"Now that the coronavirus pandemic has made us all slow down, we are curiously observing our own quirky coping strategies and the coping strategies employed by others." —psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD
Basically, we're picking up on the specific quarantine moods others are taking on, because though we can't gather, we can share. There's a lens on what people are doing, and now, many of us have a bit of time to take note. But make no mistake: Your quarantine persona likely won't work in opposition from your real-life persona that predates this time in lockdown.
"Some have noticed that their pre-existing coping strategies have ballooned, and others have found themselves taking up new interests to find comfort and de-stress," says Dr. Manly. "Yet, in general, each individual’s interests will generally align with their inherent personality characteristics." That is to say, if you're devoted vegetarian, you likely haven't been using this time to become an expert at smoking meat. Or if you're a creative, spiritually oriented person, you might become captivated by learning about astrology, but taking an online course on computer coding would still feel like a prison sentence to you.
So, if you're looking for inspiration to adopt a new quarantine persona and immerse yourself in a certain hobby as a distracting way to help you cope with stress and maybe even learn something new, Dr. Manly says this can be the perfect time to shift your focus. If, for instance, you'd like your quarantine mood to be decidedly more centered and relaxed, consider giving a calming meditation practice a try. Who knows? It may become part of your daily ritual for the long-term. Or, to access a strong and loving vibe of warmth, compassion mantras could be a good place to start.
You really can't go wrong with whatever it is you choose to try, so long as you don't set sky-high goals for yourself and adopt huge expectations to match. This isn't about productivity, it's about self-soothing self care. Finding synergistic ways you can develop upon your existing interests and curiosities in the process without forcing anything can help you access those positive feelings.
"Given that you’re likely following patterns that have been ingrained over time, it’s important not to stress yourself further by putting high demands or expectations on yourself," says Dr. Manly. "While the coronavirus pandemic is giving many of us opportunities to explore healthy new ways of being, it’s also important to be respectful of yourself. You’re likely under substantial stress as it is, so strive to be kind to yourself."
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