Australians have been isolating and social distancing since early March and while restrictions are beginning to ease in some states, an anxiety expert believes many of us will actually miss this time.
Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, Pauline McKinnon psychotherapist, author and the founder of the Stillness Meditation Centre in Melbourne, says many people will likely feel a deep sense of loss for isolation and social distancing.
“There is a certain humanity in self-isolation. In fact, there is something natural and pure about it. To say I am thankful for the coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t be right. No ‘upside’ could justify the devastation this pandemic has wrought. But I think, if anything, the pandemic has taught us a few things,” Pauline said.
“It's updated our leaders and our policymakers on how to deal with global pandemics. The Australian people have also had to learn a few things about solitude and appreciation of the here-and-now.”
Pauline believes that we should be enjoying this calm while we have it.
"The idea of ‘quiet’ has gone out of fashion in the last few decades, but ‘quiet’ has kept human beings healthy for thousands of years. Only now do we expect to be pre-occupied every hour of every day. I think it’s time that we break that habit,” she said.
“It’s through quiet that we replenish our thoughts and reset our mind. When we’re alone with just our thoughts, that’s when we’re most creative.
“Only when we fully stop whatever we’re doing can we truly observe the world around us and we appreciate what we have.”
She continued: "Some of us are introverts, some of us are extroverts and very often people who are the more introverted style of temperament really like their personal space, their time to themselves."
"The introverted person who's happy at home, might be disappointed to get back on public transport and back to the rat race."
With the easing of restrictions in NSW meaning two adults can now visit another household, some people will already be feeling that sense of loss for the isolation period. And it will be particularly daunting for those already suffering from anxiety.
"I think there will be that sense of disappointment for a lot of people," Pauline said.
"Anxious people are more likely to be introverted, not necessarily, but they can be, and once the stress levels are back in full swing, well, of course, the anxiety levels will rise too."
Pauline also revealed that she doesn't believe things will go back to 'normal' once this is all over, “When COVID-19 dies down, you’ll see a wave of Australians professing their appreciation for the self-isolation period. We will have gotten used to the ‘new normal’ and the ‘old normal’ won’t seem so normal anymore,” she said.
"I think it's quite probable that a lot of people won't go back to the old style, because they would have learned that they can perhaps work from home, travel less, not have to get up so early in the morning. Things like that have been beneficial for certain people."
When it's time to go back to work, Pauline recommends taking it slow and not rushing into things by going back for five days in a row straight away.
"I think easing into it is probably a much better solution. I think it would be a bit of a culture shock for everyone if we did rip the band-aid off and just get stuck straight back into the old routine,” she said.
When asked what we should take from this period of isolation, Pauline said: "I think, this is being a bit philosophical, I think there will be a different appreciation of life. We will have lost some of the rat race elements of the way 21st century living was heading and there has been a sort of reassessment of values and I hope that that does stick."
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