The times are a’ changing. The words of legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan seem apt for the confused state of our present world, but nobody quite expected this. Our clients usually reflect the anxieties of our shared world, but we have no category for pandemics on our checklist. If, we did, it would be a broad one with a lot of subheadings beneath. From bereavement and unemployment to anxiety and loneliness with many in between…

Our personal circumstances have taken on a new significance. For the crowded or the solitary, the unwell, or the divided, no two stories are the same… But for now, before the dust settles, how can we survive well amid the chaos?  

Routine stuff

With Covid-19 hogging the media limelight, it’s hard to see much of the world beyond it. Psychologically speaking, this viral overload of news is perhaps best socially distanced – along with everything else. Ruminating over doom-laden forecasts is rarely good for our mental health.

For those working or schooling from home - structure, creativity and patience are needed to impersonate the roles of teacher, employee, cook, and homemaker simultaneously. Perfectionists beware! Accomplishing all these to a high degree is pretty much impossible. Much like running a marathon without training while learning to juggle. It’s only human to drop the odd ball when the pressure’s on…

And for those with unexpected time on their hands, the importance of routine has taken on a new significance. When Friday night and Monday morning have lost their usual meaning it’s easy to lose direction. Filling the void in worlds usually orchestrated by schedules of work and play can be a struggle requiring willpower and imagination. And while it’s fun to break our own rules now and again, the fun can be lost when it becomes a way of life.

For starters, the ill effects of sedentary living can be countered with regular doses of exercise that boost our mood and work off our frustrations by rousing the endorphins from their slumber. For the less energetic, a stroll around the block can blow away the cobwebs and break up the sameness of those four walls…

And if the global reverberations are beyond our control, we can make a positive difference within our personal world. With many modern communities defined by broadband access rather than postcodes, social media –along with the old-fashioned telephone – is key to maintaining meaningful contact. Speaking with friends and family reduces our isolation to just the physical plane. Video conferencing is no longer confined to tedious work meetings, but can allow us to host cyber dinner parties, quiz nights and karaoke sing-alongs. And if you ever wished somebody had a mute button – well they have now!

Contact sports

Lack of time is often blamed for our stalled and unfulfilled dreams, but for those with weeks of enforced idleness on our hands, the ground is fertile for seeding new hobbies. Old neglected skills can be brushed down and rediscovered and new ones nurtured. Learning a language, playing an instrument, creating new time-consuming dishes on limited ingredients… this opportunity many never come again. Conversely, for those who the normal world leaves in a state of perpetual exhaustion, an empty schedule offers the opportunity to recharge those depleted batteries.

The more serious world of work will worry many whose career trajectory has been suddenly thrown into doubt. The seismic jolt delivered to the economic world makes it an opportune period to consider and research the alternatives long placed and forgotten on the backburner. Embracing change philosophically can pay dividends and for some the seismic shifts that follow may take us down unexpected and exciting new paths.    

It may also be the time to rethink the evolution of our lives and re-order priorities for when the world spins again in a more familiar fashion. Philosophers often warn us not to sleepwalk through life. The shocking disruption to normality may wake us up to possibilities we had never even dreamt of so take some time to explore learning something new and reflect on what matters most to you in life.

More information

A few of the millions of links out there to help us through lockdown…

www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-staying-at-home-tips/

www.westlondon.nhs.uk

http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/

www.channel4.com/programmes/jamie-keep-cooking-and-carry-on

www.citylit.ac.uk/courses

https://www.thebodycoach.com

Free online courses –

https://www.coursera.org/courses?query=free

https://www.futurelearn.com/courses

www.open.edu/openlearn/languages/free-courses