Article by Sophie Ann Gatward-Wicks
With a return to normality hovering cautiously around the corner, the most important thing anyone can focus on right now is balancing their state of mind.
The Atlantic recently published an article ¹ outlining the comparisons between wartime economics and the unfortunate economic outcome of today’s pandemic. Touching on some serious pitfalls faced by society, it is reminiscent of not only an economic crisis, but a human one too. Daniel Susskind writes:
Akin to Susskinds’ words, it also begs the question of whether humanity will be able to emerge unscarred? Drawing direct comparisons from world wars is both bold and fair. From a mental health standpoint, feelings of hopefulness and happiness become more fleeting, as the difficulty scale of every day life increases. Faced with death, poverty, restrictions, unemployment and limited resources, the global pandemic echos these war time realities. The separation of families and the loss of loved ones is just as painful and gut-wrenching whether the cause is by firearm or disease. It is then no surprise when depression becomes everyone’s personal internal battle.
Despite the seemingly never ending tribulations that wartime brought to every doorstep, any survivor will remark that it didn’t last forever. Much like the lingering effects of our current pandemic, the shock waves will be felt years after our lockdowns have been lifted, but, it won’t last forever. Given the simplistic notion that things will in fact change, with a sense of normalcy to eventually resume, balance can be readjusted between the state of emergency and a state of emergence. With the understanding that the world in its current predicament is in fact temporary, the same can be applied when assessing our state of mind. It is easier to come to terms with the new way of life when looking beyond the lockdown, into an ever changing future.
Whether humanity was facing a pandemic, or continuing unscathed navigating the unhesitating rat race, the ‘unknown’ would still be held in suspension. Internal peace, however, does not depend on whether another 2 months of quarantine is required, because its ability to present itself is not reliant on the ‘what ifs’ of all the things that simply cannot be controlled.
All the mind requires in order to come back to balance is to view the new reality, and come to terms with it. After accepting the changes, the mind will adapt, structuring emotions differently, consciously developing new definitions to the meaning of what was formerly considered to be a ‘good life.’
When struggling to find the bright side of life, start with the smaller details; from there, the gratitude grows exponentially. It is said that you cannot be both grateful and depressed simultaneously, and though this may not be entirely factual, there is a strong point to be made. It is indeed very possible to be grateful for life and all the things within it, whilst still feeling the looming presence of heavy melancholy, particularly in times such as these. This is just the human condition, and even the most brilliant people on the planet will attest that it is unreasonable to expect to have a constant positive outlook all of the time.
The unprecedented and disastrous outcome of the COVID 19 global pandemic is morphing from a systemic shock to the daily norm. There is no quick fix, or hopes to wake up one morning and it all having been a terrible dream. Fighting the war of a deadly disease by changing our daily habits is the physical side to what the world is dealing with, but the internal emotional aspect to these extreme circumstances have to be adjusted alongside the external practicalities and logistics. Acknowledgement of what is happening around the world and within your own will always present in forms of both good and bad. After acknowledgement of this fact, gratitude for what is available and present must follow. Finally, an acceptance of the way that things are now, but, not forever, will help illuminate the neurological pathways to envisioning a brighter future.
The bit of brightness added to each and every day lies undoubtedly in our own perspectives. So do we face it and change, or let it ruin the time we have now? As far as lockdown goes, an excerpt from To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donoghue (2008)² rings truer now than ever before:
This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.
If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.