Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

It’s no secret that 2020 has taken an emotional toll on all of us. Our lives have been disrupted, plans have been destroyed and or delayed, we’re worried about our loved ones and many of us are experiencing loneliness from prolonged isolation. When life is busy, it’s easy for feelings of disorganization, panic and despair to be kept at bay, but many people are learning that amidst this pandemic, some undesirable things have come to the surface. Yet, there are ways to make this difficult state of quarantine and the waiting game for it to be over “endurable yet rewarding.”

Humans: Creatures and Collections of Habits 

Humans are creatures of habit. People in general are collections of positive and negative habits they have formed that have seemed to work for them in some way. We continue them because they provide us with something – some sense of relief. Ridding ourselves of the habits that don’t serve us well is the hard part. If we focus more on the small, yet meaningful, moments that comprise our lives, it gives us the ability to be more present, while we “endow ordinary routine with deep emotional investment.” In order to maintain rhythm, direction and definition, we want to focus in on “a mood of anticipation rather than paralysis.” We can celebrate shared experiences, and intensify our attention to everyday tasks as we fill these moments with passion and awareness. Instead of feeling stuck and completely paralyzed, we can focus on the exciting things ahead and look forward as opposed to wallowing in stagnation. 

Rituals 

Typically, engaging in life-enhancing rituals (ex: running, yoga, cooking, etc.) not only allow us to find joy, but give us the opportunity to create it ourselves. Amidst this time of uncertainty, I have been encouraging my clients to make this a “period of emotional and moral transformation.” We must ask ourselves about the meaning and intention of our lives, and during this unprecedented time, I suggest taking better care of yourself and others. 

Decision Making and Routine

All throughout our lives, we are constantly making decisions. Thus, every time we have to make a decision, we add some element of stress (big or small) to our lives. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, “the more decisions you have to make, the less control you’ll have.” Although we will never stop having to make decisions, routines are beneficial in that they implement stability, create a rhythm and take the guess work out of the day. At the end of the day, this ends up reducing stress by “making the situation appear more controllable and predictable.” Stress is essentially wanting something to be the way that it isn’t, and overall stressors can be reduced by preparedness. 

Growth

The comfort zone is a beautiful place, but we all know that nothing grows there. What are ways that you have been hoping to grow and what has the hustle bustle of busy life allowed you to ignore and shove aside? Growth happens at the intersection of discomfort and vulnerability and amidst 2020, we have certainly all experienced this.  

During such uncertain times, implementing healthy habits, rituals and routine into our lives will inevitably lead to growth, whether that is something you notice and experience now, or a year from now. Although being forced out of our comfort zones throws us for a loop, and catches us off guard, there are positive effects that will come out of this year, and all of the challenges it has thrown at us.  

If you would like to talk to a licensed therapist to learn more ways to take advantage of isolation during quarantine for your mental health and well-being, reach out to Symmetry Counseling today. We offer online counseling in Chicago, SMS counseling, and in-person sessions to help and support you.References: 

Kleinman, A. (2020). How rituals and focus can turn isolation into a time for growth. Retrieved from: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-rituals-and-focus-can-turn-isolation-into-a-time-for-growth-11586445045

Why routines are good for your health. (n.d.) Piedmont Healthcare. Retrieved from: https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/why-routines-are-good-for-your-health