Go with the flow and release the artist from within
by Susannah Grant
Perhaps, like me you were somewhat surprised to wake up and see 1 cm of snow in Madrid on Tuesday, a mere two days after sunbathing in shorts. To be honest, with world events being what they are, I was fully expecting to see a herd of dinosaurs stampede past my window at breakfast.
Finding it hard to concentrate on menial tasks or reading came up as a collective issue in our Area 4/5 virtual coffee this week. We´re not the only ones feeling this way. In a now viral tweet, BBC journalist Emily Maitlis admitted she was struggling to concentrate on books, too. As we try to adapt to the “new normal” way of working, interacting, increased anxiety levels and information overload, our minds are playing catch up and trying to process situations that are constantly changing. We have become adept at shifting focus quickly and now find it harder to sustain our attention on one single thing.
Experts advise us to accept the new thoughts and feelings we´re experiencing. During times of uncertainty, it´s important to take charge of the things we can control ourselves. Now is the time to indulge in restorative activities to suppress feelings such as uncertainty or loneliness which put pressure on our immune system. Our new “normal” day could include a two-minute mindfulness exercise* to focus on our own wellbeing and to establish a routine which includes healthy habits like quality sleep, exercise, self-care and some fun to look forward to at the end of the day…spoiling treat of Easter eggs or a phone call with a favourite friend. I didn´t find any reliable scientific research on the emotional advantages of sharing one´s chocolate eggs……
Once we´ve addressed our physical and emotional wellbeing we can consider what daily activities, new or old, will whisk us away into a place where time is immaterial and flies by productively. This is where we enter into a state of flow. Experienced marathon runners enter this frame of mind where each step inevitably follows the previous one, without regard for tiredness, time or anxiety. As do those writers who hole up in the attic for hours on end, bashing out manuscripts that pour out seamlessly onto the screen from the author´s imagination. At least that´s what happens in a normal world…less so, when irritating kids are constantly interrupting you asking for yet another snack or help with their schoolwork.
Engaging in activities that produce flow, are often very rewarding, such as fashioning copious homemade masks or researching Corona charity projects, as our own unique skills are often aligned with the purpose and we experience a sense of control over the positive outcome of our achievement. Painting, knitting, board games, journaling, dancing, cooking, reading, learning a new skill are all examples of activities that can trigger a state of flow at home. These will productively shorten your day and cocoon your mind away from the daily battle being fought on our doorsteps or that other one in your living room.
Other INC members round Madrid have spent some special moments connecting with others “face to face”, making traditional Easter Torrijas and even homemade tortillas.
Wishing you a wonderful Easter, at home, in touch with all your Easter bunnies whoever and wherever they are.