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Monday, 30 March 2020

Social Distancing & Mental Health Amidst COVID-19

By Waiching 

As things stand as of now, these are (still) difficult times that we are living in and most of the world's societies are at a distance and standstill, with the killer Coronavirus taking a hold of and taking away people's livelihoods. But those concerns don't just refer to the physical aspect: it also has exacerbated theirs and my very own mental health. 

When you socially distance - or to be more exact, physically distance, you stay at home and interact only with the people you live with. When you go outside, or at your workplace, you need to stay 6ft away from coworkers and customers at all times.

It is a tremendous battle and one that can be so massively disruptive, it becomes a struggle for many of us, who at this time are pondering when on earth this will come to an end and when a vaccine is readily available to all. Whilst we must be physically distant to each other, to help prevent the spread of infection, it is still important not to abandon all social contact and connection with our peers, friends and family. Social distancing measures are put in place to reduce the proliferation of COVID-19, and to a degree, from a medical and physical standpoint, these are working. 

However, research has also shined a light on how being isolated and secluded can have an adverse impact on one's mental health. Whilst isolation is every introvert's fantasy, social distancing measures also has dire consequences: for those of us who are depressive, suffer from anxiety or have any other underlying mental and/or emotional health problem, social distancing can trigger the likes of depression and PTSD, as well as various mood swings. 

Face-to-face contact and communication are things with which, we as humans, are hardwired to a) have emotions, b) to sense and express those emotions and c) to reach out to others. The ability to contact and reach out to others in need and support by undertaking hobbies or interests, spending time with them, working alongside them helps reduce our sense of disconnection and despair and replaces it with joy, a sense of belonging and the feeling that you matter to them. And yet these are the same things, as well as the hugs, holding hands, that have been taken away from us as they carry a health risk.

Here, through the lockdown, we are not self-isolating, we are not socially distancing ourselves and isolating others around us out of choice, but out of force, out of necessity to preserve our physical health - and yet this shouldn't be at the expense of our emotional well-being. What social distancing gives and offers to us on one hand, it also takes away with the other, and sadly not only is that unfair, it goes to show that it has its cons, as well as pros. Your mental health shouldn't be compromised.

Coronavirus has had an impact on global travel, airlines, stores that have to shut up shop until this is over, schools have been closed off, major events have been cancelled and rescheduled at a later date, and the alarming stats of victims go up every single day. But with mental health, it is the one grey area many have overlooked and wherein people have taken their own lives, they have also seen their mental health levels deteriorate, and right now, their voices are not being heard. 

At work (seeing as my line of work can only be carried out at my workplace - although with cleaning I do this at home when I have to), this poses a substantial challenge; the dread of being stuck in this lockdown with no end in sight until say Sept of this year, and trying to adhere to these social distancing measures, all whilst managing my mental health and emotions, in addition to preserving my safeguarding, or trying to safeguard my physical health, is a tall order. Especially as I would be putting myself at further risk. I am having to socially distance myself from my colleagues and as a depressive myself, this can take a toll on my own emotions and mental health. As I feel more isolated, I sense further anxiety and a growing frustration that comes with the unintentional 'brush off', and longing for that connection that I am used to receiving seems distant. At times, I feel helpless, not knowing what to do that my energy levels wear off. I cannot approach them or come into contact with them on a physical level; coupled with the fact that regular and daily duties have been minimised, means I have to think outside the box and come up with other ways to keep myself occupied, work-wise. The realisation with this is that I am thinking along the lines of what I am being forced to do and what I won't have access to: for me, I am forced to go to work, otherwise, I don't get paid, but I won't have access to certain things that would have been available, had it not been for the terrible impact of this pandemic. For some, whilst being at work can be a good distraction from being stuck at home, others like myself who are depressed or endure panic attacks, the fact that I can't hug or console my workmates or approach them, make it more of a burden. & with that, we deprive ourselves of the one thing that keeps us together, and that is interaction, but not any old interaction; rather good positive interaction. 

We are fortunate to live in this day and age whereby the internet and social networking and messaging, even video calling via Skype, Google Duo and Zoom, for instance, are available to us; thus, when it comes to active communication, we must take full advantage of these platforms and make the most out of them as and when we can and to get a hold of our loved ones and dearest. Social networking and social media have often been the brunt of criticism for many years, but during this time of worry, panic and fear and despite the (mis) information from all quarters, the likes of Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have the potential to help enable users to dispel the negative associations that have been banded around with social media, and thus forth, there is no better time than now to put aside those worries and fears. 

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

'I'm Being Hopeful - This Won't Be The End': Coronavirus & Its Effects On Global Travel

By Waiching 

The Coronavirus has derailed so many people's travel plans this year; the then-unknown virus, COVID-19 originated in Wuhan, mainland China, shifted its way to the city of Hong Kong (and later there was an upsurge in incidents and fear towards people of Chinese origin, fuelled by xenophobia and racism), & then onwards overseas when during the last month, things became so severe and serious with deaths spiking every single day across the UK, Iran, Italy and Spain - with the latter two dominating the headlines with the most recorded deaths -, followed by France, the US, Canada, Germany, India. Things became so heated when supermarkets saw their shelves emptied with selfish panic-buyers irrationally buying endless quantities of milk, eggs, toilet roll to name in bulk.   

Unlike SARS in 2003, Coronavirus's impact isn't regional or local, but global, so much so the WHO (World Health Organisation) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic on 11 March 2020. COVID-19 has been unprecedented - yet abrupt the way it has exploded, it is alarming to see the rates increase and confirmed in every single nation, every continent that, but for Antarctica, there is nowhere in the world, right now, where it is deemed safe. Think about the array of nationalities of your fellow co-workers as represented at your organisation/company: be it French, British, Spanish, Italian, Korean, Chinese, Indian, American or whichever part of the globe they hail from; their very own people have been largely affected and impacted by the Coronavirus. 

Not only has it taken so many lives, but it also poses a major threat to the travel and tourism industry and affecting both its passengers and staff.

9/11 of 2001 was spurred on by fear, and here it seems the fear of being infected and transmitting Coronavirus onto others, is also what is driving so many people to cancel their flights or to put them on hold. It is frustrating to see that this virus is taking a hold on so many lives, but also causing people to stop travelling; the biggest concern is getting the virus - and yet they and we are having to self-quarantine and of who are not permitted to leave the country, - which is understandable as COVID-19 as it is known, can be passed on and spread from one individual to another. Other issues are that global and important events (such as the Tokyo Olympic Games and Euro 2020) have either been cancelled or rescheduled to a later date or be it next year. 

At this moment, the major and smaller airlines are struggling financially with flights grounded to a halt that without that money from the government and passengers, key workers will lose their jobs and companies will effectively go bust. Fewer people are content to travel, in case they get Coronavirus and become gravely ill. The travel and tourism industry is facing its biggest and toughest challenge to date with the lockdown, flight bans and cancellations wrecking havoc, the repercussions are far greater now than say 9/11, given as 9/11 was arguably a domestic crisis, whereas, with the Coronavirus, this is and has become a serious worldwide issue. Companies have considerable funds to run their businesses, but with the way things are going, they are incurring huge financial losses: hotels are not taking bookings, flights are not running, everything is closing down. The knock-on effects have been overwhelming. 

do think, however, that, like with SARS, COVID-19 will not last beyond say Sept of this year, and I'm hopeful it doesn't get to that stage. The current lockdown that has been implemented in Italy, Spain, UK and other parts across the globe has been used to curb the spread of Coronavirus and to help safeguard people - but this comes at a cost as they are confined to their own borders and homes and only leaving their houses to buy essential food or travel to work when working from home isn't feasible. Countries have closed their borders and with that, travellers can't and are unable to leave the country, until they have completed their quarantine phase. 

I realise, of course, that these are tough times right now. This would have been a good time for me to take time off work and go on vacation for a couple of days or weeks; that and visits to New York and Malaga in Spain were on the horizon. But that is delayed until later on in 2020, or be it 2021. I, and millions of other people, want this horrible and catastrophic crisis to come to a complete end with a vaccine, which - even with the handwashing, sanitising and social distancing measures - will be the best and only permanent resolution to this disaster, so we can resume our daily lives, as well as fulfil our plans in visiting our desired destinations that we have set our sights on and doing so without the fear of death looming over our heads through an invisible disease.

When we feel like we are stuck in a rut, yearn for something that excites, appeals to us that is different, or crave new experiences, by travelling, this is the ideal way to test yourself and to discover and find out about things, people, places that you know and never knew beforehand. That, and you'll develop a sense of appreciation and satisfaction of your skills, as well as the culture you have immersed yourself in. Which is why the likelihood of the idea that we will not only be able to fulfil this for the foreseeable future, whilst this can be a worry for many, this is not the absolute end. 

Yes, this is a sad state of affairs at the moment, yet as bad as it is, I am not giving up hope that the Coronavirus will be all over, be it this year or next. Whilst this came out of the blue and became a shock to everyone, this isn't the first time the travel industry and travellers have experienced a global crisis as severe as this; and as proven with 9/11 and its aftereffects, the world of travel has managed to bounce back, and coming back stronger and more resilient than ever. & I see the same thing happening with COVID-19. Don't let something like this put you off from flying or travelling permanently. I know I am not. 

& when it is all over, I and so many millions of travellers can celebrate and smile on the inside, knowing I am and will be able to travel and see the world, again. 

Once we (and we will) come out of this, the world will be changed forever in ways of which we can and cannot truly fathom. & yet, there will be a greater demand and urge for lots of people to go on holiday, be it overseas or locally, and to make up for loss time, as a result of this pandemic. Everybody is going to need a break and seeking to get out of their homes and of the country or be it travel locally and within.

& quite frankly, given what has happened in the news and right now, we very much deserve one. 

Sunday, 22 March 2020

No Contact vs The Silent Treatment/Ostracism & Why The Former Makes Sense For Me

By Waiching 

No contact is not a ploy to get back at the person, nor to let them back into our lives; rather it is a way of removing or at least minimising almost no contact with him/her and is used as a last resort when all attempts at maintaining neutrality, fail. No contact falls more in line with the victim, whereas the silent treatment is what a narcissist does. 

We choose to establish a 'no contact' rule for numerous reasons, including preserving our emotional and mental health and allowing ourselves space and time to 'heal' from abusive, toxic relationships, -and not to exact revenge, to hurt or punish them. 

Full non-contact involves absolutely ZERO communication, correspondence and interaction of any kind with the other person who is having a negative effect on you, in under any manner and through any medium (phone, text, messaging, social networking, in-person). You need to make a clean break and cut off any communication with him/her and detach yourself from doing so. You need to free yourself, to feel and sense your feelings, one needs time for oneself and to mourn and to replenish your energy levels. Disengage from him/her emotionally and spur yourself from their pain. 

It is a way of setting boundaries, giving you perspective on yourself and your personal or professional relationship with that person and whilst it is not an attempt to change him/her, but letting go of changing them, letting go of the desire in changing them, it is more about preserving your needs and being happy within yourselves. The no contact thing applies mostly to relationships involving couples, married or otherwise, but it can also be applied to work relations and relationships with (increasingly) difficult, toxic and problematic employees, co-workers you are not working in direct contact with. It enables you to take the focus off them and to focus on managing your well-being and self and maintaining self-respect. 

No contact is often mistaken in an unfavourable light and is often viewed in a similar fashion to narcissism and ostracism and the silent treatment as manipulation and punishment, it is not a decision to be taken lightly, - yet I'd argue no contact is lesser of the three negatives. There comes a point in a working, professional or personal relationship with a so-called narcissist or otherwise, emotionally negative person, that one says to him/herself, ''that's it, I must remove myself from their presence, which is hurting me on the inside, as well as outside''. The very minute you choose not to interact and engage with him/her, refrain from speaking to them, not approach them, to go about your work or life as normal and as if s/he doesn't exist, your head starts to clear and you feel relieved and happy. Narcissistic or toxic coworkers or bosses, partners know what your emotional weaknesses are and they have no qualms in drawing them out and exploiting them by pushing your buttons to get a reaction out of you. By responding or reacting to their d***ish behaviour, you are giving them ammunition to hurt you further. I have no control over the stupid things they do and say and things that I'd never expected and ones that made me wish, ''I wish you'd stop speaking to me''. A seemingly small act of rudeness can have an effect on others that is unjust. 

Yet it is important to stand firm and not get sucked into their toxic and erratic behaviours and become affected by them. It is just as much a mental and emotional exercise as it is a physical one by means of being present with him/her in the same room, location, space. And it is tough work, - I have to remind myself there is no point investing any more of my emotional energy and giving so much more of myself to him/her when all they'll do is suck the joy out of me and replace it with trepidation and anguish. I walk away from them, I stay away from them. By establishing a 'no contact' boundary sends a clear message to the undesirable person that my emotional security is well and truly guarded -, and that it can't be affected in such a way that will hurt me. It also prevents you from demeaning and embarrassing yourself unnecessarily; like for instance, saying something to him/her that you might end up regretting later on. Cutting off someone, blocking them or at least giving them the brush-off, just because they are being an idiot towards me or they are mistreating me or in a manner, I feel upset by, means I avoid any escalating tensions that might come my way and in having to contend with him/her. 

Silence is golden that it speaks volumes, and as such with the no contact rule, this is effective: narcissists, extremely difficult and toxic people feed on attention, control and yet when they don't get what they want or expect and crave for that, they feel restless and frustrated. Many will claim no contact is passive-aggressive - I'd argue no, it isn't. It isn't towards a toxic individual or narcissist. There is no intent to cause harm or hurt the other person, but it is a way to cancel out, defuse or oust feelings of fatigue, potential anger that might happen or depletion of an unpleasant situation & to stand up for yourself. Ostracism, in contrast, is passive-aggressive, is far more damaging and detrimental, considering that deliberate disengagement with colleagues, friends, family members (which this is) can lead to sadness, depression, further isolation and feelings of loneliness and anger.

For many of us, it is far easier by choosing not to utter a single word to him/her, rather than to address whatever issue or concern is going on -especially if all past attempts in doing so have failed -, and if one is not a confrontational person or someone who avoids conflict and drama. If you are suffering because of their attitude, and yet your compassion, patience, attentiveness and empathy isn't good enough for them, and they don't seem to care one bit, ask yourself, ''Is it truly worth going through all those emotions with him/her again?''. Resorting to the silent treatment doesn't mean everyone who issues it, are being petty or truly hates him/her, well in the form of no contact that is, - for some, they do it because they want to avoid the drama, because they want to heal mentally and emotionally, and to give the other person space and time to heal and to give them a peace of mind. Let's face it - whenever I try to speak out or defend myself, I get shut down and I feel that no matter what I say, I will always get called out and I don't have a good way to reply back. On the face of it, however, one drawback with no contact or be it the silent treatment is without talking it out, face-to-face in a one-to-one setting, there is no way to define nor for the person to understand what they did or said in the first place. 

When someone goes 'no contact', the reason is not with or about the narcissist or toxic individual and what by going no contact, will do to them, but they do it for themselves, for their own emotional protection and well-being. They want to heal. They want to move on, not harbour ill-feelings with the other party in the long run, and hoping the next couple of days, weeks maybe, things will get better for them and for their relations with their colleague/s, friend/s, partner, family member/s to improve. I am not a heartless person, I have empathy, I have feelings too; I also have my boundaries and so does s/he and I am aware that ignoring or shunning someone can have a detrimental impact on him/her. But it feels empowering to me to gain some confidence and knowing that on occasions such as this towards narcissists and people who might display narcissistic traits, it is best not to utter a single word at all to them. 

If someone at work or in your relationship is a strain on your personal or professional relations, I'd suggest to going 'no contact' - no talking, no speaking, avoid communication for several days (I read that for some couples it's 30 days), and when you feel able and willing to speak to him/her again, then do so. Don't shut them out, completely and for good - unless they are completely toxic and narcissistic. These toxic people thrive by feeding on their noxious behaviours and attitudes to the detriment of others. These types of people do not truly care about your feelings, no matter how much they claim or insist they do.

Extreme pessimists and antagonisers do not deserve your undivided time and attention. 


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