How to Navigate Through A Winter Lockdown: Difficult Emotions & Travel Urges
As I write a new blogpost every week, I found myself quite un-inspired this week. But, as everything is connected, often it’s best to take a look at what you are going through at the moment, what you are learning, and share it with others. Because there is always someone who you can help. So, the theme of this week’s blog post is: lockdown life. And no, this will not be another lifestyle post with sponsored products to make your stay-at-home life better. This post concerns the emotional aspect of dealing with a pandemic and how we can handle emotions, thoughts & feelings better.
Humans are not meant to live in lockdown, separate from others. We live in communities, with our close and loved ones. We have a natural urge to travel, to go places, to discover the many cultures of this beautiful world.
So, being in lockdown, in quarantine, since 2020, it takes its toll on us. This month especially, with high hopes for 2021, I’ve been disappointed as these high hopes did not come true. I live as an expat in Portugal and it’s just entered a new full lockdown, such as in March 2020. Luckily, I’ve been able to deal with these difficult emotions through practising mindfulness. So let’s move on how to dealing with these lockdown blues, and how to shift your mindset to remaining optimistic for the future.
As a Mindfulness teacher, I will always give you the advice to sit with any feelings and emotions that arise. Not only will it allow you to see the root cause behind them, it will also make you feel better, processing the feeling and moving on afterwards.
Mindfulness means: becoming aware of what is happening in your mind, body and surroundings: paying attention to it, and bringing in kindness, curiosity, compassion and non-judgement.
These next steps are part of the R.A.I.N. technique and have helped me and many clients in dealing with difficult emotions.
1. Recognise. Notice when you are feeling lonely, anxious, or sad. Notice this feeling. Do you feel it in your body? What are your thoughts like? Recognise this feeling or emotion.
2. Acknowledge. Instead of fighting it, try to accept it. Know that is will pass, too. Nothing stays forever. You will not be sad forever. You will not be anxious forever. Focus on this moment, right here, right now.
Imagine this feeling is like a cloud, passing through. By fighting it, by resisting it, you are only making it harder for yourself. So instead, lean in. Accept the feeling is visiting you right now, and welcome it. It’s okay. It won’t last forever.
3. Investigate. Next, ask yourself: why am I feeling like this? What event cause this? What triggered this feeling to arise? Is it real or false? We are living so much in our minds, playing what-if scenarios, that our bodies actually respond to it, as if it was really happening. Mindfulness allows us to come back to this moment instead of living in our heads.
4. Non-identification. Remember the cloud, passing through? Kindly remind yourself that you are not this feeling.The person who is noticing this feeling, that is you. The feeling is just a visitor.
As you might have noticed, this technique is called the R.A.I.N. technique. It’s a mindful practice to deal with difficult emotions.
Us humans need connection. As many of us are separated from their friends, family or other close and loved ones, it can be hard missing deep connection, or physical touch.
As I’ve mentioned before, our bodies cannot recognise the difference between a fake or real thought. The same goes for physical touch. When you hug yourself your brain does gives the same response as when someone else would be hugging you. The physical sensation is the same: you feel held and comforted. If you are missing the physical sensation, I highly recommend you to try this out.
Another big help is self-love. When we feel we are lacking love, it can feel like a gap, an empty space, only someone else can fulfil. We are often craving love from someone else, but we can give it to ourselves, too. I’ve created a self-love meditation on Insight Timer and SoundCloud, free to acces, which is a lovely practice to comfort, soothe and love yourself.
Have something to look forward to
This is a very important one. In order to stay optimistic, it’s helpful to set goals you’d like to accomplish, or subscribe for events you’d like to attend.
Again, recognising that everything is temporary, we can also remind ourselves that this won’t last forever. Vaccines are being rolled out, which means there is light at the end of the tunnel. We will not be in this pandemic forever. It will end too, some day. So until then, what can you look forward to? What can you prepare, learn, or set as a goal for yourself?
See this extra time you got as a blessing. Or, if you’re living with your family and you’re thinking: time? I’m so busy with them! See this as a chance to connect with them more deeply, while setting time apart for yourself, even if it’s 5 minutes a day.
I hope this post has helped you in navigating through this pandemic, whether you are in lockdown, quarantine, or having difficulty dealing with these unusual times. If you’d like to learn more about mindfulness or meditation, sign up for my weekly inspiration newsletter here and follow me on Instagram here!