Updated: Jan 3
Just as we thought we were over the worst, the next wave of COVID starts and we find ourselves in another indefinite lockdown or in my case lockout... The impact of health orders being issued on the largest population and business centres of our county has widespread social and economic impacts - where one lives almost doesn't matter. Getting restless and agitated at times like these is unavoidable it seems, and as I saw the launch plan of our new business and picture book go down the drain at the end of June, the same feelings beset me. And it got worse over the two weeks as I watched the news, read the commentary and browsed social media... Feeling this way is not healthy and so here are three things that I have resolved to do to go back to a more peaceful state of mind through the rest of lockdown and indeed COVID.
The state of the 'news'
We all need to stay informed during times such as these but doing so without getting 'worked up' with the news is challenging.
The problem is that the news we receive today is not really 'news' in the traditional sense of the word i.e. reporting on the facts of a given matter. Rather, most of the news comes 'laced' with commentary. Gone are the days when the editorial or opinion sections were clearly delineated from the facts.
Opinion shapes the news these days and takes up the bulk of airtime.
This would all be fine if the opinions sought were from 'enlightened beings' who had freed themselves of their ego, personal ambitions and agendas and were therefore able to judge situations objectively and present us with clear, considered and unadulterated advice on the state of things based on their first-hand experience and expertise of the subject matter ...
However, it seems that everyone these days seem to come with their own agenda these sow the seeds of mistrust in ordinary folks minds.
COVID is a once in a lifetime pandemic the likes of which the world has not seen since the Spanish flu if 1918-20. No one living today, regardless of their position or title has first-hand experience of managing an infectious disease of this magnitude in the highly mobile, connected and crowded societies that we live in today. The ever mutating nature of the virus makes it all that more challenging.
Yet the media keeps putting forward person after person on the pedestal as 'experts', presenting contradicting 'expert opinions' and confusing the living daylights out of us ordinary, non-expert folks. Those in power inevitably try to take control of the situation as conspiracy theories and fake news start adding to the noise, and before you know it even reasonable discussions and debates start being stifled. The polarisation this causes in our society is palpable on social media feeds and trends, and yes, I too was getting caught up in it...
The only option I feel we can do right now for our own sanity is shield ourselves from all the news or rather the endless commentary. When examined carefully they appear to be nothing but conjecture, with a whole bunch of people speculating on speculation...
So here's the first resolve.
Resolve 1: Stop engaging with the news
How to stay informed?
Figure out the essential information I need (e.g. what I can and cannot do under a health order for my business) and find a resource where I can get across this in a factual sense.
Does this mean I am parking my discerning intelligence and developing a blind faith in authority?
Far from it.
Living in a democratic society, my vote is the ultimate power I have and my ability to protest is the ultimate freedom I have.
Time will reveal the merits and motivations of the policies and the politicians making them - and depending on what they turn out to be, I'll be ready to protest and vote as need be.
For now, I am choosing to believe that the people in charge are doing the best they can. Sure there are political and corporate interests at play - there is no doubt about this - but as a colleague once told me, "no one shows up to work to do a bad job".
Fluctuating mental states and the social media
Comparison of self to others on any dimension is generally unhealthy. Comparing one's mental state with others is definitely a no, no. With the influx of social media in our lives, this is becoming harder and harder to do.
After swearing off social media platform in about 2016, I've had to re-engage with the dreaded world of Instagram, Facebook and Twitter in 2020 as I went down the road of starting my own business - it felt like a necessary evil...
And sure enough, as soon as you sign-up, the platform delivers everything everyone is shouting out straight to you - even from people you don't follow...
These platforms love content that creates heightened emotional states as it drives higher engagement so sure enough what you mostly see is people 'living the highs' and 'going through the lows'. With social media at everyone's disposal all it takes is a few taps to share our unbridled euphoria, anger, disappointments and sadness.
Unless someone has the disciplined mind of an accomplished meditator, which most of us don't, we spend our days and weeks vacillating through high and low mental states. This is a quintessential 'human condition' that gets exacerbated with the onset of mental health problems.
One of the alarming things that I have observed in myself when engaging with social media whilst feeling 'low' is that seeing someone else on a 'high' either makes me feel bad about myself or worse, envious towards the other. I guess this sort of reaction is what lies at the heart of the 'FOMO'.
The only time such posts have a positive effect of say inspiring me, is when I am engaging with a balanced mental state.
Conversely, when I am on a 'high', seeing another person on a 'low' quietly plants the poisonous seed of pride in my mind, inflating my ego e.g. by creating a thought around how well I was handling the situation relative to the other...
Again, it is only when I engage with these posts with a balanced mental state that I felt empathy and compassion towards the other.
These things are difficult to spot, and even more difficult to admit
And this is it's important to spend time cultivating self awareness and being honest with ourselves on how we really feel about something.
It's also important to remember that it's never another person's fault - ie the people posting content on social media.
What we feel about a social med