ReintegrationThe philosopher William James reminds us that though humans find many reasons to separate ourselves from each other and from nature, we must realise that we are all part of the same creation to become our best self.

'We are all like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.’

William James

From a sociological and psychological perspective, I would like to share what I have learnt from Covid-19 so far. Firstly, I feel it is important to include the five stages of isolation. Dr. Kimberly Norris, a psychological scientist who studies confinement and reintegration at the University of Tasmania describes the five stages of isolation and applied them to our pandemic situation. Let’s look at the five stages outlined.

Stage 1: Confusion and panic

Fear takes over as people struggle to understand what is happening around them and how quickly life has been turned around. Widespread panic buying occurred

Stage 2: Honeymoon

When the initial panic subsides, people view the situation as a positive novelty to spend more time at home with family and reconnect with friends over video call.

Stage 3: Resentment

The novelty of working from home and avoiding the morning commute quickly vanishes, replaced by a deep-seated resentment triggered by loneliness and fear with no physical interaction.

Stage 4: Reunion

Attitudes are divided between hopeful excitement and apprehension as restrictions are gradually lifted and the world braces for the ‘new normal’ of life after lockdown. Readjusting to society filled with more crowds and public transport getting busier is a form of reverse culture shock. Again, it is important to outline the mix of emotions here as it’s absolutely normal to feel a roller coaster of emotion during this re-entry period with waves of joy quickly overtaken by fear and anxiety.

Stage 5: Reintegration

People return to their workplaces. Bars and restaurants open their doors for sit-in customers and international travel resumes.

Now that we understand the different stages of isolation, two important concepts are fear and flow. Fear is essentially being stuck and feeling static. When we are in a state of fear, we can become negative and sometimes react irrationally. How can we counteract this? We can face the fear, take the challenge on and move forward.

Before the outbreak of Covid-19, the physical work environment created structure in the working day. Suddenly the sense of structure was gone. It was up to the individual to create a working systematic structure to bring into the home environment and to be mindful of personal and family responsibilities.

Where to find the balance? If one is busy, there is so much to do in one day. Where to begin? If one is not so busy, what do we do with our time? The added factor is the sight and sound of the negative news and the array of information on social media outlets. One may be stuck in negative thinking, stuck in the past and fear of the future. Concentration and energy levels are an added factor. Without a disciplined daily routine, certain aspects can be affected.

Where do we go from here and what can we do to help ourselves? Firstly, let’s think of flow. How do we get to a state of flow and what is it? According to Daniel Goleman, an acclaimed Psychologist and author of many books in relation to Emotional Intelligence, he outlines that flow is a ‘state of neural harmony where only what is relevant to the task at hand is what is activated.’ Flow maximizes cognitive abilities and it is where people are at their best and most productive. Essentially, it is where we want to be, in the zone of optimal performance.

Not only is being in a state of flow good for overall optimal performance but it also helps eradicate negative thinking. When we are in a state of flow, we are in a positive zone and we do not have room for internal and external obstacles to get in the way. Being in a state of flow helps us to be able to deal with external obstacles in a constructive and rational manner and to get the best outcome of the situation.

How to create a state of flow? It is to make space within. This is where meditation comes in. Meditation is essentially being aware and to have focus and direction. When we learn to live our life with awareness, to live consciously and to make conscious choices, our whole life becomes a meditative experience. There are many types of meditation such as reflection, contemplation, prayer, walking, guided, breath and mantra.

Once the ongoing practice of meditation takes place along with deep breathing, this can allow room to create the space within. Once this is intact, we look at creative desire. Everyone has something to give on a personal level. Whether that is painting, drawing, singing, dancing, playing an instrument; the ideas are endless. Once we use our mind and body in another way and are being creative, we can get a sense of satisfaction from our ability in which we can allow room for flow to occur. When this is activated, it can have a profound effect on our life both personally and professionally. It enhances productivity and again helps us to deal with internal and external obstacles.

The important point to note is how to maintain the state of flow? Fine tune our focus in the present moment. Mindfully take everything in at this moment in time. Enhance enthusiasm and confidence, reduce the impact of resistance and negative inner dialogue and maximize focus and productivity. Integrate these techniques into the way we think and operate each day, we will be able to adapt to change and move forward.

Deep breathing along with meditative living, stretches, movement, good nutrition, good quality of sleep every night, fresh air every day, vitamin D intake and staying hydrated are important factors to keep the momentum going.

During this time, it is to learn from one another and to help each other make progress. Take each day at a time while working from home. Live in the present moment, be kind to one another and comfortable in our own company. It is also important to note, we are not alone as after all, we are all connected to one another.

By Eimear Larkin of Core Connection.