Updated: Apr 4, 2020
The short answer is, only you yourself can know.
Why do I say this? Well, because each of us have individual needs based on the unique lives that we have lived. It would be presumptuous for me to assume that I know what is right for you. I don't know anything at all about your life and the circumstances that shaped who you are today. The expert of you can only be YOU. So, only you can know what you have to do, if anything at all, during this period of physical distancing.
With that said, I can share some insights into this matter based upon my past experiences. This will be more like sharing what I went through rather than advice. I want to urge you to read this and reflect on how some of these insights might apply to you. In my experience, you always have to find the formula that is uniquely yours.
Not too long ago, twice in the past two years actually, I self-isolated of my own volition.
The first was when I parted ways with my previous job in May 2018, I was burnt out and exhausted. The last time I had given myself any downtime was in 2003. So having gone 15 years non-stop, needless to say, I was burnt out: working 60 - 75 hrs a week so I can afford to put myself through architecture school in the US; then, 80-100 hrs a week in architecture school with little sleep; finally, diving right into my career one week after presenting my thesis and working for 4 years without deep rest. I felt like I was reaching a point of no return with a major health crisis. So, I decided to give myself a much needed break. I wanted a break from people and social obligations, as well. I felt like I had given so much that I had run out of any energy to give to anything or anyone else. I entered a self-isolation period. My goal was to heal.
I gave myself the time and space to just be. Nelson was incredibly supportive. I became nothing short of a vegetable for over 2 months. One of my wise friends that I spoke often to on the phone during this time, told me to throw away all the should / should not / need to dos. I took this to heart. Letting myself just be was the first step. I woke up when I felt like waking up, I cried if I felt like I needed to, I ate whatever I felt my body needed, I slept, I watched hours and hours of TV, and I read. This doing nothing and unstructured time allowed me to think clearly again. The brain fog lifted little by little. So, I started to think and to reflect. This of course made me cry even more. But, it felt like that's what I wanted to do - both reflect and release. You see, having been through several crisis in the past few decades, I have come to realize certain patterns. When step back, I am able to identify them and I am able to accept them. So, I needed to go through the process.
The second instance of self-isolation came in April 2019. The tragic Easter Sunday Massacre in Sri Lanka happened and I was paralyzed. I was worried for my family and friends. I was filled with so much grief for loss of my fellow country men, women, and children. I was grieving the short lived period of peace in Sri Lanka. I was heart broken and sad. I couldn't stop crying. Then, I isolated myself from everything, took a break from work and decided to give myself space to heal.
In both instances, the common goal was to use the isolation period to allow myself to heal. This healing period ended up being very productive for self-growth. Because I used that space to reflect and address the deeper traumas and parts of myself I had been avoiding. I didn't set out to do it. As a result of allowing myself to just be, I was able to heal and feel like myself again. Then, I was able to think clearly. I was able to think and reflect again, feeling more like myself.
I find myself yet again in a third isolation in three years, this time with the whole world. So, I hope you take a step back and figure out what it is that you WANT to do. Maybe, you want to just do nothing and use this time to rest. Perhaps, you want to get to that creative project you always wanted to do. Maybe, you get to spend more quality time with your family. You may want, instead, to give yourself time to process what's going on around us. Whatever it is that you want to do, I say, give yourself permission. There is no time better than the present to do it. Like my wise friend said, throw away all the should/should not's. Let your body tell you want your mind needs. You owe it to yourself.
1) I have been noticing a frenzy in the creative community to just dive right in and start creating content. Here's the thing though, it maybe the right thing to do for some people for a particular situation that they are in their lives, but not for others. I have been guilty of doing this myself. I jumped right in and started creating content and putting things out there. Part of that urge came from a place where I felt a bit helpless about everything happening around me, and I was desperately trying to feel like I have some control of the situation -- even a tiny bit. Another part of it was my instinctual and habitual sense of wanting to help people deeply affected by this tragic and scary situation. The only way I knew how to provide some relief was to share knowledge and practices that helped me when I went through rough patches. Another portion of my content creating behavior was that I felt like I should do something, not just sit on my hands. After all, this community and the structure we are creating at Neuma Being has to adapt to the new reality. But, I have decided to slow down. I need time to process all the emotions, along with all of you. We will help each other when we can. But for this moment, I surrender and allow myself to be human.
2) If this isolation period is driving you crazy or if you are afraid of the isolation itself, try and figure out why that is. If you are at a healthy mental space, interrogate this. Find out why. What are you afraid of? The answer(s) may surprise you.