Updated: Apr 11, 2020
As every article and news programme says about our current situation with CV-19 – these really are extraordinary times. I had to close my clinic a week last Tuesday and go into self-isolation because my son was displaying some minor symptoms. Whilst I’ve been in isolation, things have moved on at a rapid pace and now we are all in a country-wide lock down. I don’t know when I will be able to re-open my clinic. I have spent the past 12 years of my life learning about physical and emotional health and how experiences, major events, lifestyle and diet can impact on wellbeing, but I don’t think anything could have prepared us for this.
I’m slightly ahead of the curve than most of my readers having been in self-isolation for an additional week so I wanted to share some of my own experience in adjusting to this new paradigm. When I went into isolation, I wanted to keep working and quickly get writing supportive blog articles for my patients, but I had so many thoughts and ideas swimming through my head, I found it difficult to write and focus. Looking back on the process of drafting this piece, has helped me to understand my own experience of trying to adjust to this very challenging time we are in. I can see that my difficulty in writing this reflects the past two weeks which held a series of ever-shifting goal posts and great uncertainty. I didn’t find it possible to write a clear and cohesive article, because until we had the clear message of locking down and realising that this is going to last several weeks or months, it wasn’t possible to plan - life was about coping until the things became clearer. I’m reminded of the film “The Impossible” about the Tsunami in 2004 and the scene where Naomi Watts’ character is being swept through the wave and being buffeted by the water against a series of obstacles, occasionally coming up for air, only to be sucked under again. It is only when the wave starts to recede and the water calms that she is able to move forward with the next steps.
When facing such extreme uncertainty, fear and sudden change the practice of mindfulness is a vital resource that is easy to learn and put to use. Mindfulness is very broad in its application, but simply put, it is about bringing awareness into your everyday thought and actions.
We all have an inner-dialogue running in our heads and lose awareness of where we are in the moment or what we are doing. When our emotions are allowed to run wild and without recognition or worse, when we try to suppress or minimise them, they can become very intertwined and start to resemble anger or anxiety. It is important and helpful to recognise and name what you are feeling in order to untangle the jumble of feelings and thought. A structured mindfulness practice can be very helpful in doing this. It helps to get yourself into a more relaxed frame of mind so you can begin to unravel the complex ball of emotions that you have been carrying around. I’ll write more on this soon, but in the meantime, I’d really recommend looking at the wealth of information there is out there about mindfulness. There are some apps and youtube videos which provide a great introduction into it (see links below).
Things may not have fully settled, but given the tsunami of the past two weeks, this is as settled as it going to get for the next while (although don't quote me on that!).
This article is going to be the first in a series of articles with information and resources to help you get through these testing times, so please look out for the next one and feel free to share this.
Jill Storstein, MSc, DipAc, MBAcC is an acupuncturist and health advocate working in Edinburgh and Aberfeldy.