• Catherine Chadwick

Coronavirus. How Are You Coping?

Lockdown is undoubtedly calling on all our resources to handle the situation. For each one of us, the demands are different. The longer we are required to largely stay at home, the more likely it is that our habits and habitual attitudes will make their presence felt in our lives. Then there are the effects of being cooped up with others or, if we live alone, feeling isolated. Some of the issues that have arisen for clients during these times include overeating, hitting the sweets and other foods lacking in any kind of nutritional value, drinking more alcohol than usual, smoking more, being motivated to get down to work and having more negative thoughts than usual. I can only imagine what it must be like for those who no longer have a job or are at risk of losing their businesses. The truth is that, at least for those who would normally go out to work, the workplace is what we call in hypnotherapy, an anchor. We prepare to go there, make some kind of journey, certain things are expected of us whilst we are there and we engage in certain behaviours and habits whilst there. For example, smokers will go outside for a cigarette only as frequently as seems acceptable in the workplace. Then there is the social aspect to it, perhaps leaving your desk at a particular time with someone else, making the trek outside and perhaps meeting others there who are also taking a smoking break. You may also be one of those people who never smokes during the working day but only away from work in the evenings and at weekends. When working from home, there are few of the spoken or unspoken expectations. Home provides a different anchor - one where you make the rules. At home, you can probably step outside pretty much whenever you want and smoke. Add to that any concerns you might have about the future of your job or business, and increased smoking can be a reality for you now, perceiving it as a way to manage your stress. The same is true of any other substances like alcohol and unhealthy food. You can nip to the fridge whenever you want and since you’re in all evening, you might as well have a beer or a glass of wine whilst you relax. Stripped of most of the usual activities that create variety in our lives, over-indulgence can become a real problem. So our unhealthy habits or the habits we have that we don’t really like can be more “in our faces” than usual at the moment. But this time of lockdown could be an ideal time to knock them on the head as it were so that when we re-emerge and get back to some degree of normality, we do so without these old habits. You may though be wondering how you will cope if you stop smoking, drinking too much or too frequently, or soothing yourself with food. The truth is that you have a wealth of inner resources that you display in all sorts of areas of your life that you can bring to bear on these issues. One of the beauties of hypnotherapy is that it can not only split the habit from your identity, but can also bring the resources you have to where you need them so that you can let go of these habits and at the same time, cope with lockdown more easily. So instead of “I am a smoker” or “I have a sweet tooth” for example, you begin to see that whatever that habit was is no longer a part of who you are and who you want to be. Instead, you are someone who deals with life in a healthier way because you have the resources to do so. The same is true of other experiences you might be having right now. What if you are an extrovert who thrives on the face-to-face interaction in the workplace or indeed has a hectic social life? What if now you find yourself on your own at home or in the daily, extended presence of your housemates or family? Life can seem monotonous or niggles between you take on a bigger life. I spoke to one of my clients yesterday who has found herself in just this situation - at home with her housemate and working from home, the extent of her social life amounting to face time with friends but as she herself said, there’s a limit to how much time you can spend on the phone with someone or how frequently. Not surprisingly, she was finding it difficult to even get started on work tasks and didn’t really know what to do with herself the rest of the time. If you are normally a person who doesn’t spend much time on their own, this could be a time when you learn to do just that. Well why would you want to do that when things will eventually return to normal? At the moment, we have no idea how long we will be forced to stay at home. There is talk that coming out of lockdown may not start until June. Being able to spend time on your own can be productive in all sorts of ways. Some years ago, I had a client who came to see me to lose weight. One of the things that transpired very early on was that she never spent time on her own. She would arrange numerous social activities, back to back. Indeed, she always had to leave our sessions on the dot as she would have an arrangement with someone immediately afterwards. She realised that by doing this, she was doing herself a disservice. By never taking time out for herself, she couldn’t giver herself the time to value herself. And so she took to blocking out evenings during the week when she would stay at home. These became very important times for her and contributed to her achieving her weight loss goals. So perhaps digging into those resources we have been talking about will be just the thing right now to not only make this time much more bearable for you but when all this is over, will leave you with the feeling that time alone is important to you so that you can really care for yourself in all sorts of ways. Image by Tom Athawes, Unsplash