Being a sensitive person and an author, social distancing and self-isolation feel familiar to me. There isn’t much adjustment as I already live a contemplative life, spending long hours in solitude. However, even for someone like myself who enjoys home alone time there is a huge difference between choosing solitude and having it imposed upon you. It’s made me realize just how much I/we take the freedom to choose for granted.
It has also made me realise that the gentler personality traits – reflectiveness, empathy, kindness, intuition – which our normally busy, materialistic, narcissistic society so often regards as weaknesses are in fact strengths. Perhaps during this time people with sensitive personality traits can lead the way helping those who aren’t as accustomed to time alone to find ways to cope and emerge empowered from the experience. Perhaps this time of uncertainty and enforced isolation is the long overdue moment in history for sensitive souls everywhere to step into the limelight and shine. It may already be happening as sensitive personality traits like kindness and empathy are finally and rightfully trending.
The M words
Outlined below are four empowering M words which can help anyone, regardless of how sensitive they are, not just survive during this alienating crisis but thrive. The M words are not midlife crisis or menopause (although these can be catalysts for personal growth too) but mindfulness, movement, mastery and meaning.
Mindfulness is a buzzword in the self- help movement. You may be tired of hearing about it but the reason people talk about it so much is that it really can help you feel more in control of your life, especially during times of anxiety. From my perspective being mindful isn’t about spending hours meditating or complicated yoga stretches it is simply being present in the moment and not letting your thoughts race to the future or retreat to the past. It is also focusing on and feeling grateful for what is good in your life right now and not focusing on what you are missing. So, during this home alone time think about the glorious amount of time you now have to yourself. It’s a constant complaint that we never have enough time but now we have that time! Make every moment of that time count – tidy up, face time with friends, cherish your children and or pets, read or write that book – the possibilities are endless. See this gift of abundant personal time as an opportunity.
Movement is the second M and it’s an important one because regular exercise boosts both immunity and mood. Never have we needed to have our moods and immunity boosted more than right now. There is nothing stopping you getting some fresh air alone or with a loved one as long as you make sure you keep your distance from other people. Commit to regular exercise each day and know that your immune system will thank you for it. And make sure that you eat as healthily as possible too and get plenty of immune boosting vitamin C and D; a recent study showed that Vitamin D is helpful for respiratory function. Food sources of vitamin D include egg yolk, salmon and vitamin D fortified cereals but sunlight is another source so yet another reason to get some fresh air.
Mastery is the third empowering M. This is finding something you want to learn about. It doesn’t matter what it is, it could be gardening or learning a language or painting by numbers. Whatever it is become as good at it as you can. There is tremendous fulfilment to be found from mastering something, but mastery also refers to resilience. If you feel you can’t cope with the changes in your life right now remind yourself of all the times in your past when you have felt uncertain and anxious before and somehow pulled through. You are more resilient than you think, you just need to trust yourself.
Meaning is the final and, in my opinion, most life changing self-care tip during this crisis. When bad things happen many of us look for answers but often there are none to be found. This is where the spiritual perspective can help because it encourages us to look within for deeper meaning and understanding. Never before has the world been literally forced to find meaning from the inside out rather than the outside in. Finding peace and meaning from within is the spiritual approach to life and a true path to fulfilment.
Make sure each day has all the four Ms in it and you will be able to cope with this enforced monasticism and perhaps even find it incredible rewarding. Treat each day as a sacred opportunity to get to know yourself, your loved ones better and to appreciate the wonder of life.
Theresa Cheung – Sunday Times bestselling Author – The Sensitivity Code