The new normal forces most of us to be indoors. Many of us work from home, attend online classes, and exercise from home because of the restrictions. While we are increasingly being absorbed by technology and experiencing limited social engagements and physical human interactions, our homes have become places of isolation.
Even though these new adjustments may be functional and desirable, it has the potential to affect our mental health greatly on the long-term. The expression “no man is an island – John Donne” indicates that human beings are social beings, thus cannot survive on their own.
Additionally, the worldwide lockdowns and curfews indirectly force us to delve deep into ourselves, face our personal skeletons, and interrogate our thoughts, feelings, behaviours and experiences. The question is, are we ready to self-interrogate?
The vices (constructive or destructive) that we may have previously employed to deal with our psychological troubles, may no longer be available, accessible or is limited, implying that some of us may find ourselves in a dire emotional state, as we discover things about ourselves that we haven’t prepared for or didn’t even know existed, which could be the cause of emotional discomfort or distress. In therapy, introspection is a difficult process that we don’t readily engage in because the journey of self-discovery is one of complexities, vulnerability and willingness.
The process requires courage, preparedness, honesty, openness and acceptance as we peel the layers of unbecoming. Hence, professional support is helpful during this process as it serves as a holding space for us as we unravel.
Subsequently, other support systems such as family and friends are important to help us navigate the self. However, the challenges brought on by the current pandemic could limit the support from family and friends as everyone is going through something. As a result, reaching out for help when in need of support could become difficult and our needs may not be fulfilled according to our expectations.
This dynamic will see many of us withdrawing further from those close to us, and the social isolation that is exacerbated by Covid-19 restrictions can inadvertently impact the suicide rate. Therefore, self-preservation - selflessly taking care, protecting and nurturing the self - is crucial in keeping oneself alive either physically or psychologically in times of involuntary isolation. To aid in the process of self-preservation, self-care is a key tool. Self-care is a deliberate act of investing in our physical, mental, and emotional health and well-being. Self-care takes many forms and is vital in building resilience towards stressors that we can’t escape. When self-care is a priority in our lives instead of being a luxury, we are likely to live our best lives and are less likely to feel overwhelmed or exhausted when life presents us with inevitable challenges.