We are halfway through our mandatory isolated state in Spain. All of us started to realise, that it is very likely to be extended, yet for now we don’t want to allow that thought slowly creeping into our minds. We are halfway through it, that’s what is in focus.
You somehow get used to the surreal reality. You learn how to swap certain things in life that previously we haven’t even noticed that were choices.
You will instinctively swap:
Smiling at blurry faces looking back at you through the screens of your devices instead of rolling your eyes at people.
Throwing virtual kisses towards your camera instead of feeling the warmth of your loved ones’ skins.
Eagerly waiting to watch people walk alone past your balcony with their grocery shopping bags instead of getting annoyed at a group of teenagers being loud while having fun at the restaurant across the street.
Browsing through a multitude of face mask types on Amazon in all different styles instead of clicking through cute dresses, shoes and cool T-shirts.
Cooking your dinner with the type of pasta that was actually available in the supermarket instead of deciding to choose between five brands of fusilli.
Organising with excitement an evening of sharing some wine and giggles with your friends via video chat instead of arguing which bar is too far, to crowded , too something.
Scrolling through your old photos and reminiscing about your travels, feeling grateful that you got to visit those amazing places instead of complaining how some cities have lost their authentic touch due to over-tourism.
Ending your messages with “stay healthy” instead of “have fun”.
Day 15. I simply can’t describe with words how much I miss nature, to sit under a tree, to walk along the beach, to hike through muddy rocks in a forest. How I miss giving a long hug to someone, to get cosy being wrapped around someone’s arms, to touch an arm, to hold a hand, to absorb the warmth of a gaze.
Those of you, who are able to still enjoy any of these things, I urge you: make them count and cherish them. These are the little things that make us human, that fill us up with undervalued joy that becomes our fuel. Instead of complaining that you are stuck with your loved ones, just imagine for a moment, how much you would miss their entire being, even including the little annoying habits that might be driving you a bit crazy right now.
Day 15. Now as I’m sitting on my balcony on this sunny, delightful Sunday, with the smell of spring in the air in Barcelona, I simply can’t resist anymore. This unconquerable urge to join these people on their supermarket trips, passing by my balcony, strictly walking alone adhering to the rules. I will make sure I pick a supermarket as my destination that is at least 20 minute walk from my home, to be able to soak up as much of the outside world on this beautiful Sunday in Spain.
Learn to swap seeing fear with noticing beauty in the little things around us. Learn to swap the feeling of uncertainty with an opportunity to reflect and re-align yourself. Learn to swap your mindset.
“As long as your mind is free, your spirit is strong.”
This was the sentence that made my mind shift back into positivity during these strange times we are experiencing globally right now. This simple yet powerful advice came from someone who spent a substantial amount of time in confinement, most of it in a maximum security prison.
I asked him to share his experience in light of our current situation and by sharing some of his story, maybe we can find some answers how to cope. He also reminds us that even though we are quarantined we still have small liberties; we have technology and the internet to entertain ourselves, to keep our minds occupied and to stay connected to our loved ones.
We might be physically confined but the most important thing is: not to be confined mentally. Having some of our freedom suddenly being taken away from us can definitely take its toll on our mental health. I wondered how this compares to being incarcerated?
DOES THIS COVID-19 LOCK DOWN HAVE SIMILAR EFFECTS ON OUR MENTAL HEALTH AS BEING LOCKED UP?
I decided to ask this from someone, let’s call him Diego, who had spent a significant amount of time in confinement, majority of it being in a maximum security prison. Since he finished his sentence, he started a new life and left his old ways behind him to appreciate the second chance that life threw him.
I was curious to find out two things:
What advice can he give to people during these times to keep our mind strong and healthy?
What is that one thing he learnt to appreciate when he got his freedom back?
First thing that became very quickly clear to me was that no, our current lock down is not even half as bad as being completely deprived from all the important things in life: speaking to our loved ones, having our meals when we want to, being able to go for that walk to the supermarket whenever we need to. Being able to open our front door when we feel like, that freedom of movement we still have to take care of our essential needs.
As Diego explains, most people have never been confined of their freedom so it’s a lot harder to deal with it as compared to someone who has been conditioned from a young age and became prepared for it mentally. Also someone who is more of a social, extrovert character, who needs regular social interaction in life, can find this situation even more challenging than how it really is. So as a side note, think about those people in your lives who are extroverts and maybe give them a call a few times in these coming weeks.
It was interesting to hear some of Diego’s tips on how he kept his mind sane while also improving on his own self-development during his time in confinement. For us, during our quarantines these tips and advice can come in useful especially if you feel like that your mental state and emotions are already going through a roller coaster. For me personally, it definitely has been the case and I’m only on my 10th (or 11th?) day of our lock down here in Barcelona.
You will need to train yourself to have some self-discipline.
Introducing a new routine, a new schedule will give you some certainty during these uncertain times. It creates a structure in your mind.
To stay mentally strong:
“I practised a lot of discipline, I meditated, I worked out. You have to make a schedule right around your circumstances. What you create is a program, you’re programming yourself.”
“I used to be a very disciplined individual to withstand and outlast my conditions of confinement. I read a lot and the books that I read were the tools for me to be able to withstand anything mentally.”
How your mindset effects your physical health:
“Of course, none of us like to be confined but it’s either you remain strong mentally or you don’t but then you break mentally. And then you end up having all these other mental handicaps that could probably lead you to your demise. Anxiety, is one of the main ones and from anxiety you will build panic attacks and from panic attacks it could lead to health conditions.
Once your mental state is broken and your spirit is done then your physical well-being will go after it.”
Learning to appreciate what’s important in life:
“What I appreciate in life is the small things, the joys. Health, freedom, those are the things to me that mean the most. Family, love. Everything else can come and go. Money comes and goes, success comes and goes but as long as you have what you stand on, what you believe in, and at the end of the day you have the ones that you love and then you love yourself, that’s what matters the most.”
“During our last conversation when we met for a coffee, I told you how grateful I am and how I’m not in the pursuit so much of being successful financially. Because I’m so grateful being free. I was disciplined and confined for so long and I even confined myself in a way of restricting myself of pleasure. I would do that purposely to become strong mentally. Like I would fast or would limit myself from being able to eat things like chocolate and stuff like that, that could bring small joys. Because if you don’t have something, you don’t want something then you don’t miss it”
I wondered by facing all these restrictions to our freedom through this lock down, has triggered any past traumas for him. Has it brought back some of those negatives memories, emotions or flashbacks?
“So far, I’m dealing with it quite well, it hasn’t triggered anything but then again I’ve been out of that situation for quite a long time. And I understand that this is for my own well-being and for humanity as well. Being a caring person, I don’t want to put other people at risk or myself at risk so you know, I have to be a law abiding citizen.”
If someone who had spent a tremendous amount of time being locked up in prison can understand how important it is to stay at home and complies with the lock down rules, then so can you. You really have no excuse.
Passionate motivator on a mission to help people turn their spiritual calling into their careers. Currently living in Barcelona after having called the following countries here home: Hungary, UK, Malta and Sri Lanka. Brainfused is her platform to translate some of her deep rooted thoughts into the shape of words.
How ironic is that we feel more connected to humanity by being isolated from one another? The little things in life that we took for granted now really teach us their true value. A walk along the beach or in the park, the hugs from your loved ones living abroad, the excitement of planning a weekend getaway. It never crossed our minds that these could be luxuries.
It’s only been 7 days for me since I’ve been in complete lock down and the first few days were actually a bliss like for so many of you as well probably. We could enjoy a bit of calmness in the madness, especially if we live in a city that usually would be bursting with life. For me, that’s Barcelona. But all we see now is empty streets and we started to recognise some familiar faces on the balconies across the street from us. We started waving over to those people during our morning coffees or throwing them a smile while another neighbour is entertaining us with some music to keep our spirits up. Or when we are clapping in unison at 20:00 sharp every evening to show our gratitude to all the incredible people working around the clock in health care, trying their best to safe as many lives as possible.
But as soon as we retreat from our balconies or windows, we are left with our own realities. Either you are sharing your 24 hours inside those walls with your family or living completely alone, it does take a toll on your mental state. It stirs your soul up. It makes you question everything in your life, all of your priorities, all of your time you have been dedicating to something.
Does any of that truly matter? What are those moments that now you realise that you honestly cherish? What are those little life-snippets that make you feel that are creating some kind of value, some kind of meaning?
You start reaching out to people you haven’t talked to for a while, you start reading those books that have been collecting dust on the shelves, you start opening that expensive bottle of wine you’ve been saving up for a special occasion. You suddenly start expressing gratitude to those people that connected with you and showed you something positive, that taught you something meaningful, that stood by you during your darkest days.
This global quarantine is no longer about just putting people into isolation who might be infected with this coronavirus / COVID-19 whatever you want to call it. We are creating a whole different meaning to that state, what this quarantine really means and what it brings out of us.
I see the light and positivity in all this devastating times. I see people reconnecting with themselves, I see people telling their close ones how much they love them, I see people being more compassionate, more helpful, more humane. I see people trying their best to form communities, to strengthen their existing tribes, to care for each other. We needed to be isolated, quarantined to feel more connected than ever before. That’s the biggest quarantine irony and it is the best way to experience this together. Not in fear, not in worrying and not panicking. But by being there for each other, keep lifting each other up, shining a bit of happiness in others’ lives whenever we can.
I encourage all of you to use this strange time to become more connected. We are in this together and remember, this is temporary. It will pass and once we are on the other side, we will have a much different community, society and overall system. We will rebuild our economies together but most importantly we will rebuild ourselves together. We are all one. This is the time to really put that into practice.
So keep smiling at your neighbours, keep entertaining people around you, keep that light shining.
I’m on a mission to build a community, to help people who are working within the spiritual, esoteric and holistic industries reach their potential by truly focusing on their spiritual calling and turning that into their vocation. Learn for free how to start to turn your spiritual mission into your career.