Have you lost a sense of what day, or even what month it is? If so, don’t worry as you’re not alone. Lockdown has been a very testing time and scrambled everyone’s brain a little.
I’ve written about this in a piece for Marie Clare, which you can read below:
Being in lockdown it’s like being in a waiting room we can’t get out of for a year. We’ve read all the magazines and all the notices on the wall 100 times. The books we’ve taken to read or the podcasts we’ve taken to listen to all finished a long time ago. We have no real choice or autonomy. Time has taken on that of the quality of dreams, floating, unmarked by clocks or calendars. We are trying to digest and integrate all that has happened on a feeling level.
Likewise in our heads we are finding ourselves in brain fog as, stuck long-term in a background hum of anxiety and uncertainty, some of our energy and attention is taken up coping. This reduces our ability to think and organise. Without the day to day rhythm of going to school or work, or the other regular structures that mirror our time, we are quite lost.
We have moved from the clock hands of Father Time and our linear calendars to that of mother time. We are much less in the structure of our heads and more in the rhythm of our bodies. This can feel oceanic, like the flow of tides inside. We are less likely to notice what day it is and more likely to notice the daylight growing longer as the year turns towards spring. Even then we can be confused about what month it is. So much has slipped and slid off the diary page dates. The days of the week and months seem almost arbitrary.
With anxiety, the blood flows away from our cognitive functioning brain into the the fight and flight mechanism. Although the threat is not that of a sabre-toothed tiger bearing down upon us, the threat in the pandemic has a similar effect. So all the time we are in the state of anxiety our brain function for thinking and cognition is reduced.
We are much more likely to be impulsive and reactive and means that we are not able to be as logical and rational as usual. Even if we do look at our watches and our calendars, we are less likely to take in the information and hold it. It’s like trying to work in a room full of loud noise and flashing lights, we just aren’t be able to focus as well. We need to remember we are in a war without bombs. The threat of death is there.
So what can we do?
We need to do as much as we can to calm the fight and flight mechanism.
- Express yourself regularly either by talking to friends or keeping a journal about what you’re feeling, not to look back on just to get it out of your system.
- Find some guided meditations online and try and do them at a regular time of day. It will enable integration and processing of emotion and give you a greater sense of yourself and your autonomy.
- If you’re not someone who likes meditating, do something like creating music or art. This doesn’t have to be anything presentable. In fact it’s better not to be. It may be the equivalent of a continuous doodle, just something you enjoy that keeps your focus and your attention. It’s like putting your brain on idle for a while, letting the blood flow around the system, like oil around an engine.
- Use reminders on your phone if you have something to remember.
- At the end of each day mark what is coming up the next day and write it down in a notebook.
- Keep work and home as separate as is possible.
- Make sure you have plenty of downtime.