Stay at home. That’s the chant governments across the globe are sending out to their citizens.
Social distancing is the best defence we have against COVID-19, and it’s proven to work. But social distancing isn’t the only part of this pandemic, there are many other impacts; economic, social, and mental.
Let’s focus on just one, the effect uncertainty has on creativity.
While trying times and forced isolation may have been productive for Shakespeare, not everyone can funnel fear and uncertainty into their creative works.
I’m a pure introvert, so you’d think staying at home more would be a dream come true. All that extra time to write, right?
But I’m also an essential worker. I work part-time as an administration officer in an emergency department. I’m surrounded by surreal changes at work that include areas blocked off by glass doors and medical staff fully garbed up in personal protective equipment. It’s unsettling. I used to stroll through those areas to collect paperwork for minor injuries. Now the beds are full of people with respiratory problems and high temps. Are they COVID-19 patients? In most cases we don’t know, the test result takes up to 48 hours, so we assume they are positive until proven otherwise. Uncertainty is certainly a word to describe the environment.
When I think about the fact that I have a chronic lung disease (that makes me more vulnerable to COVID-19), I have to stop myself from overthinking. On an average day, I struggle a bit with anxiety, and given the current situation, worrying about the future makes it worse.
To say creative focus and concentration are a little harder than usual, would be an understatement.
Well, for me, the creative wheels fell off about a month into all this. The world was spinning out of control. Every day, an aspect of my regular life changed, and I had no control over it.
I finally realised the best way to cope, was to focus on the things I do have control over.
So, what am I doing to cope?
- At work, I pretend everyone, including myself, has shit on their hands – I can’t touch my face because I don’t want shit on my face and no matter how much I wash my hands it just won’t come off. So, I wash my hands and I wash my hands and I wash my hands. I lost count of how many times I squirted my hands with alcohol-foam and washed my hands during my shift. My skin is dry, and I need to moisturise, I don’t usually need to moisturise. This makes me feel good.
- At work everyone stinks (because of the shit on their hands) and I must stay 1.5m away so I can’t smell it.
- I meditate – daily, just 10 minutes. The HeadSpace app works for me.
- I exercise – three times a week (minimum). My gym closed, but they sent a link last week to help their clients; Les Mills On Demand – free for 60 days! I love BodyBalance, and now I have no excuse not to do it in my lounge room.
- I take my medications regularly – and hope that my lungs are in the best condition possible if the worse does happen. I was a bit slack with the preventer in the past. If I felt good, I didn’t take it, now I am. Bad me is now good me.
- I schedule – I’ve scheduled time in my calendar for writing time and the tasks I need to complete. Scheduling writing time is a good practice for any writer, but even more so now. On the days I feel overwhelmed, and the butterflies in my stomach are threatening to take over, I have something to focus on to help keep me grounded.
- Talk to friends – everyone is experiencing uncertainty. Talking to friends and family has helped me normalise the changes. I’m not saying normalising a pandemic is a good thing, I’m saying knowing my feelings are normal is. It’s also helped me to see that yes, buying toilet paper is now possible, therefore it’s okay that I didn’t panic buy in the early days.
Wash your hands.
Keep your distance.
Stay connected to your community.
Royalty free image by samanley @ www.pixabay.com. Thank you.
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