Focus in a Time of Isolation


Article from ADMIN 58/2020
Keeping your focus during the pandemic.

I've found that trying to maintain my focus on work, home, and self is very difficult in this time of isolation and quarantine. My guess is that you've struggled with the same issue. If you haven't, good for you – I'd love to know your secret. It's hard not to get caught up in all of the political and social issues and allow myself to drift into anger and madness about it all. I find it hardest when I've been stuck inside all day without a breath of fresh air. Paranoia, anxiety, and panic set in and there's nowhere to turn to. I realized early on, around day 60, that this was going to be a problem, and I've searched for solutions, only to find that a lot of folks are experiencing the same thing. I might be able to offer a bit of advice that I've gleaned from others who've experienced extreme isolation that could help us all.

First, get up and walk around. Even if you can't leave your apartment or house, get out of your chair or off of your couch and just stroll around as far as you can. Movement helps.

Second, take a bit of time every day to meditate, pray, or sit silently without social media, television, YouTube, or other distractions. I discovered early on that people who are isolated will tend to drift toward the eccentric and the extreme. We watch what's going on with COVID-19 and other issues, and we begin to become more sensitive to everything we hear and see. Remove yourself for a bit, get some fresh perspective, and come back a little saner and calmer.

Third, reward yourself. When you spend 30 minutes focused on a task, reward yourself with something small, such as a small snack, a walk around the block, or a funny video on YouTube. You might think 30 minutes is too small of an increment for such a reward, but after 90 days of isolation and social distancing, 30 minutes can be an eternity.

Fourth, don't fall into a downward spiral. Keep yourself from sinking into an emotional abyss by encouraging yourself. Recognize that this isn't permanent and that you can overcome it.

Finally, the fifth bit of advice I have is to seek help if you find that you can't handle it. There have been too many instances of violence and self-harm since our isolation began. Personally, I've dealt with the suicides of close friends in the past few months. I've also heard my friends speak of depression, despair, and the loss of family members to COVID-19.

When all this first started, I thought that I could handle it. I've never been a very social type. I self-isolate. I self-distance. I'm not a hugger. I don't feel all that compelled to be around a lot of people. This extended distancing and isolation has proven me wrong. I never realized how much human interaction and contact I really do need. Sometimes when I spend the entire day inside my house, I feel as if I'm suffocating. I often have to walk outside for a few minutes to clear my head, gather my thoughts, and to talk myself out of an all-out panic attack.

Take care of yourselves. Spend some time talking to friends and family. Play a game with your family. Take a walk. Breathe some fresh air. Be aware that this is happening to you and deal with it. There's no shame in asking for help. There's no stigma associated with feelings of panic, isolation, stress, and anxiety because of what's happening to us. There are very few people in the world alive today who've ever experienced what we're experiencing. It's unique. It's a one-off. It's temporary.

Remain focused on what you have to do. Reward yourself for doing so. We are all experiencing the same feelings, anxieties, stresses, and isolations. Take a breath. Center yourself. When we come out on the other side of this, we'll be wiser and a bit more appreciative of each other's company. I hope we will never pass this way again.

Ken Hess * ADMIN Senior Editor

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