House arrest or home retreat?

Joey Garcia

How would you describe the past 200 days of the pandemic?

Some of us have been swinging between feeling caged and being secretly delighted to cocoon at home. Back in 1981, the futurist Faith Popcorn coined the term, cocooning, to describe a habit of staying at home insulated within “a shell of safety.” Cocooning was self-care, a method of managing microaggressions and stress. Within cozy, private spaces, we reset our sense of self before work or chores required that we venture out again.

Cocooning is not the same as staying home to help contain a deadly pandemic, and yet, it’s empowering to reimagine quarantine as an invitation to restore the soul. If you haven’t already carved structured time in your day for quiet reflection, meditation and yoga, start now. Teach your children how to develop intimacy with silence. Start with four minutes and add time gradually. Stillness is a skill that offers lifelong benefits, especially during times of personal or social chaos and conflict.

Cocooning is not the same as staying home to help contain a deadly pandemic, and yet, it’s empowering to reimagine quarantine as an invitation to restore the soul.

Can’t experience serenity because you share living space with a loud talker? Nudge them toward developing the self-awareness necessary for volume control. It will bring peace to your household and neighborhood, and also protection. Loud talkers can be superspreaders of coronavirus, leaving droplets in the air for as long as 14 minutes. Ick.

For many teens and young adults, stay-at-home orders feel like house arrest. The resulting distress is driving them to gather and party in defiance. Many say meet-ups with friends are as important for their health as wearing a mask.

This week, a 20-year-old college student asks a question that offers insight into this struggle.

I’ve been talking with friends and we all know the chance of getting COVID-19 is low if we don’t socialize. But, if we don’t socialize, the chance of prolonged depression or mental illness is high. What do you suggest?

Ignite the awe and wonder of early childhood when a tree or stone or snake in the garden was a friend as dear as someone your age. The experience of being woven within the fabric of nature is key to healing ourselves and the earth. So put technology aside and open to a deeper connection outside.

You could also organize a small social circle of friends you trust will practice safe protocols. They would have to agree to hang only with each other. A weekly commitment will give you something to look forward, to and remind you that you are not alone. Schedule regular therapy appointments, too. While it’s tempting to rely on a friend for counsel, it’s too much of a responsibility, especially during these challenging times.

One last thing: Psychology is a filter through which we have learned to see ourselves and the world. Go beyond it. If you’re concerned that you are too fearful, for example, notice when you are simply being cautious or careful. Or, if you tend toward attention-seeking from others, slow down and focus on forging a stronger relationship with yourself. The more you can embrace the fullness of who you are, the easier it is to move forward in therapy.

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