How to Live with Lockdown
Updated: Jun 19
"There is a comfort in rituals, and rituals provide a framework for stability when you are trying to find answers.”
Here we go again!
New lockdown restrictions with the threat of more in the next few weeks.
We have lived through an unprecedented event. Like World War 2, future generations will learn about the great pandemic of 2020 and wonder what it must have been like.
This time we haven’t suffered the same physical hardships as in the 1940s. We are not under threat of bombing and while we might have to queue at a shop, there is more than enough food to go around.
This time it is our freedom that has been curtailed.
There is evidence that there has been a huge impact on our mental wellbeing.
Not seeing the ones we love is hard.
Not being able to do the things we want to do is frustrating.
Whilst shops and activities are open they are tainted with fear. Everyone wears a mask, avoids physical contact and even eye contact.
We have had everything that we look forward to removed. There are no certainties and we are not making any plans.
All of this negatively impacts on our mental health.
The frustration generated by the new restrictions is palpable in the media and in our families and friends. It feels as if everyone is bracing themselves for more.
We cannot control what is happening or the steps the government takes to protect the population but we can control what is happening within ourselves.
The true meaning of resilience is to thrive and not just survive during adversity. To do this we need skills, tools and techniques.
That is why this week; we want to talk about rituals.
Rituals are the things that we do over and over again. Human beings love routine. It makes us feel safe and keep us on track.
It also brings us into the present moment and prepares us for what is to come.
There is further medicine in harnessing the power that resides within our regular routines.
Regular routines are in fact our rituals.
They allow us to create time and space in which we can consciously celebrate, honour, cherish, give thanks, value, love, move on, acknowledge, pledge, dedicate, and grieve.
Our lives are full of them. From simple things like brushing our teeth, the route we take to work, the greetings we share with colleagues, our work timetable and our bedtime ritual; to the celebrations we attend and the rites of passage we go through.
Many of our rituals can be seen as habits but there is an important distinction. Habits tend to be unconscious; we just do them without thinking.
It is the meaning that we give to our rituals that makes them conscious and brings our awareness into the present moment.
Our rituals can be healthy and unhealthy. Physical activity immediately springs to mind as a healthy ritual, excessive alcohol as unhealthy. Many people adopted a healthy exercise ritual to help pass the time during the first lockdown.
In fact, the power of any ritual lies in the meaning that we give it. If a person hates physical activity, then a regular parkrun is never going to be a powerful ritual that works for them. It will feel like a chore and they will struggle to do it despite the benefits and endorphins they may gain.
Giving meaning to our ritualistic activities attaches importance to them. It means that we are serious about their purpose.
Now, more than ever, when our normal routine is disrupted, we need to cultivate new healthy rituals.
‘How to Rise – A Complete Resilience Manual’ from Sheldon Press has a specific self-check tool and over 60 additional tools and techniques to help improve your mental wellbeing, reduce burnout and allow you to take control of your life.