How to NOT Lose Your Mind in a Crisis

COVID Topical #2: Reflection

There are varying traditions in our world that recommend people spend some time alone with their thoughts. There’s prayer in religions, there’s meditation in Eastern practices, there’s the hermit lifestyle, …

And now there’s corona, and you may also be stuck with more time, emotions and pasta sauce than you know what to do with. This post is about reducing at least two of those things.

(Image by Marius Venter on Pexels)

Social connection is important for humans. Sitting at home in isolation, then, can be dreary. We will dive deeper into lacking connectivity (and how to deal with it) in a future Topical. For now, let’s look at an upside of being away from the world:

You have time with yourself.

There is a reason (self-)reflection is often done in isolation. Without other people and distractions around you can really focus on your situation. And there’s a reason that it’s such a widespread practice, albeit in different forms:

Reflection is productive.

Like when you have something on your face that you only see when looking in the mirror, reflection can show you things you may not normally realize are there. You can reflect on your actions, thoughts and feelings, but you can also reflect on externalities. You may take some time to ponder some situations or a source of information. Consciously and honestly evaluating an action, a feeling, a situation or anything, helps you understand it. If you understand something you’ll see how it might affect you, whether it’s helpful or not, and how best you might respond.

For example, you could let a news message tell you how many people died and you could judge that as ‘very terrible’, let that put you in fear-mode and, wanting to care for yourself and those close to you, you could (with safe distancing) storm the nearest supermarket and collect pasta sauce like you’re planning to feed a small Italian town. You could do that. Or… you could take a step back and reflect. Where did the reaction to do so come from? Is the objective situation as bad as it feels subjectively? Is hoarding the best thing to do? Evaluation tends to be more helpful than just judging things.

Here’s how you can start reflecting:

Set at least 10 minutes of undisturbed time and get out a fresh pen and paper (or a keyboard and document on your computer). A good way to reflect is by asking questions about what you notice (I felt like that today, this happened, I sometimes think thus…). You can also write in a diary or journal about what happened during your day. If there’s thoughts that seem to haunt you, it can be helpful to commit those to paper as well. For inspirations, check out our second Topical’s exercise.

—to the Extraordinary, you