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by Michelle Grace Maiellaro
Time passes, the days of the week blur together, weekends no different from weekdays.
Helplessness grips me as I realize I’ll wake tomorrow with the same expectations, in the same room, reliving the same day repeatedly.
To venture outside, live my normal routine and hug the ones I love, endangers my very life. And paranoia separates me from the slightest human interaction.
Life is frustrating and downright frightening. Will it ever return to normal?
A Journey of Stillness
I had these same thoughts before, when I self isolated during my battle with leukemia.
I know social distancing creates emotional exhaustion. It’s not healthy to estrange yourself from society, or struggle through an unprecedented and traumatic experience alone.
Four years ago I lived with a compromised immune system where minimum social contact would have jeopardized my health.
Nowadays, I’m isolating myself again and rediscovering the lessons learned during that time.
So, to help you cope, here are 3 steps that strengthened me through the tough times.
Ground Yourself In Gratitude
I remember waking every day in a strange hospital bed, feeling lucky to still be breathing. It meant I had an additional day that was more beautiful and precious than the last, no matter my seclusion or debilitated physical condition.
I was alive with plenty to be thankful for.
Science continues to prove gratitude’s mental and emotional value on our minds and bodies.
How does it do that? Because it creates hope. Being grateful snaps you back to the present, like a laser beam forcing your focus only on the immediate goodness in life. And if you can achieve inner peace today, you can achieve it tomorrow, too.
So, if you feel stir crazy cooped up in the house, then be grateful for a roof over your head. Give thanks you’re healthy inside your home, while others fight their battles in intensive care. Count your blessings for the food on your table while others may struggle to pay the bills.
Where does your gratitude flow and how often? Unsure? Then take a quiz to find out.
Wondering how to practice gratitude? A variety of methods exist – keep a weekly gratitude journal, craft a nightly blessings habit, rest in thankful mindfulness, or indulge in graceful prayer. Try them all and find one that fits your style. After a few weeks of practice, notice the changes in your mood.
Personally, I continue to give thanks each morning. When I open my eyes, feel my heartbeat, hear the birds chirping outside, I’m filled with thanks for living one more day. (Article continues after ad)
I made it through both isolation periods thanks to exceptional relationships.
My leukemia isolation felt like a prison—multiple month-long hospital stays, confined to a room with 2 one-hour visits a day. Even outside the hospital, I needed to limit visitors. Yet an entire network of people supported me from afar, a virtual lifeline of energy when I had none.
Nowadays, I belong to a mutual support group of fellow patients and ex-patients that spontaneously transitioned into a covid-19 group.
No one can survive emotional, mental, or physical upheaval alone. While you can physically distance yourself, you cannot isolate your heart.
So reach out to people today, whether you prefer a daily ritual or a weekly one is your call. But connect to at least one person who needs you, someone you need, and another person you haven’t heard from recently.
As you develop your connections, you might form your own support group. Whatever happens, focus on the creative act and profound aspect of communication.
For example, agree to have fun and move beyond the usual chitchat or coronavirus updates. Ask extraordinary questions. For example, what past moment would you change if you could go back in time? Or, what is your best childhood memory?
And, if you’re already a creative, share photos of what you invented and where you found joy during your solitude. Personal happiness is great, shared happiness is bliss.
Above all, ensure key friends and family members recognize the important role they play in your life, the greatest connection of all.
Leukemia granted me the respite to think, listen to my emotions, and self reflect. During that era, I journaled, meditated, wrote morning pages, and recited mantras, which led me down a path of self-discovery where I found clarity, self compassion, and purpose.
To this day, I meditate, and continue to recite mantras when the whim arrives. Now, in my covid isolation, I’ve returned to journaling.
So use this chance to reflect on where you’ve been and where you are now. Instead of analyzing, explore your concerns and feelings. Stay with them, abstain from judgement, and see where they lead.
Your goal is to come away with greater self awareness and understanding. Realizations you’ve never had before now might surprise you, joy might embrace you.
Create Your Own Path to Thrive in Self Isolation
Life will never be the same after covid-19, but now you know how to deal with isolation and a changed world. After all, you changed, too.
Trauma can be a transformative experience if you allow it.
Remember to be the artist of your life. Cherish this time as you reinvent yourself and face the unexpected with grace, courage, and compassion. Learn to thrive in self isolation.
Michelle Grace Maiellaro
Michelle is an American expat in Italy with a versatile career history. She is a leukemia survivor who helps midlife women triumph through life crisis and change. Download her free Resilience Reading List: 10 Books That Will Inspire You To Carry On (Even In The Most Stressful Of Times) from her blog, The Resilient Woman Today.
top photo source: Mohammad Asadi from unsplash.com
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