If you’re currently quarantining (forcibly or not) you might be losing your shit. Anyone?
While ‘cabin fever’ is definitely a real thing, it is oftentimes the confines of our own mind that make us uncomfortable.
I grew up in a beautifully chaotic household; there were always rules, there was always structure, but there were also always tons of people around. My family is large and loud, and we love to be around each other…like ALL together, ALL the time.
My parents are, ‘the more the merrier’ type; they took everyone in, they loved having all of our friends over and it was rarity that there wasn’t an additional person living with us.
For the first eighteen years of my life, I shared a bedroom with my sister, I saw several of my cousins every day, I got used to the revolving door that was my childhood home and honestly, I fucking loved it.
Fast forward to my freshman year of college: me, sitting in a single dorm room in the middle of a city I had only visited once before. I was totally alone, totally isolated & totally afraid to be with my own thoughts.
My lack of self-awareness led me spiraling into a deep depression. I didn’t have many friends and I didn’t love being in school, but what saddened me the most is that I didn’t know who I was.
I think this is what freaks people out about having to be quarantined: the stillness leads to meeting yourself, maybe for the first time.
We are so used to being able to distract ourselves with the external (consciously or subconsciously) that many of us don’t face our internal challenges.
Without the outside noise, we don’t have much of a choice other than to get to know ourselves real well and honestly, it’s not always fun.
Here’s how you can make the process of meeting & getting to know yourself a little bit less uncomfortable.
You might even find out that you really fucking like yourself - with no distractions - exactly as you are.
TALK TO YOURSELF
We don’t realize it, but many of us live our lives on autopilot; we wake up, we get our coffee at the closest café on our way to work, we sit, we work, we get the same salad for lunch, we go home, we pour a glass of wine, we make the easiest thing, we watch the show our friends told us about, we take a melatonin, we sleep, we wake up … get it?
What would happen if you started asking yourself what you actually wanted/needed instead of relying on your habits?
I tell a lot of my clients when I start with them to begin asking themselves, ‘what would I do right now if I loved myself?”. The answers might surprise you. When you really listen to yourself, truly listen to what your mind/body/soul needs in that exact moment, you find who you are.
The key is to then act accordingly & without guilt or questioning. Sometimes you’ll ask yourself what to do next and your body/mind/soul will simply say, ‘lay on the couch and nap’. Other times, it will say, ‘drink a glass of water’ or ‘get off the couch and do some yoga’ or even, ‘don’t have that glass of wine’. Even when you don’t want to; listen, that voice is your truest self & it knows what you actually need.
WRITE IT DOWN
Being in isolation sometimes stirs up feelings, emotions & experiences, that you swore you buried long ago - this is your subconscious brain acting up. When we don’t have as many distractions, we can begin to sift through our underlying thoughts. While this can be difficult, it can also be extremely cathartic. Try writing down some of the experiences that are being brought to the surface and how you feel about them.
When I was alone with my thoughts, I found that writing, ‘Morning Pages’ was an awesome way to work through whatever was on my mind.
It’s very simple: dedicate a notebook or journal to this writing and every morning, wake up and free write 3 pages. Some days your stream of consciousness will flow, other times you might write, “I have nothing to write” for 3 whole pages. It isn’t about ‘making sense’ it’s about getting information from your brain, into the world. You’ll start to see your brain take over and make sense of things for you – it’s awesome.
STOP NUMBING OUT
Now is not the time to drink, smoke and Netflix & chill through your issues. The thing about getting high on anything, is that when we come back down, everything within us still exists. Face yourself head on; face your shadows, face your fears, sit with your anxiety & welcome the ups and downs – you WILL return to your center.
Something beautiful happens when we sit still, reach inward and let the external disappear – we get answers, all of them & we realize that they’ve been inside of us the whole time. Use these next few weeks to just be. Take time out of your day to sit still, be with your own thoughts & allow your body/mind/spirit to come together.
LET EMOTIONS VISIT
For whatever reason, society has led us to believe that emotions (even though we all experience them) are not okay. We must suppress ourselves; we must fight the urge to engage with our feelings & we must definitely not cry or get angry.
I say, fuck that. Emotions come and go, treat them like the visitors that they are. Allow yourself to feel everything and recognize that all emotions are temporary. When you don’t try to stop feelings & emotions from coming to the surface, you allow every part of you a release. Your mind, body & spirit take a collective deep breath & sigh – what you’ve been holding onto is heavy and it’s time to let go of it. Feel to heal.
Sending you love and light in this time of healing.
Devyn Penney is a certified life & intimacy coach and the author of, "Mastering the Art of Internal Intimacy". This blog is dedicated to ending small talk by having Big Conversations, "the only way we connect is through love, empathy and an open line of communication".