Well it is ‘interesting‘ times we are living in at present! Although I have three draft blogs on the go, waiting to be finished, it seems appropriate to put them aside and write this one instead. As I type this I am on my 6th day of working from home, having made the decision to begin working from home a few days before the Level 4 was announced; mostly to reduce my contact with others. My first week working from home was busy with supervision, and life felt only a little different than usual. As I work with a number of people spread geographically around New Zealand, it is not unusual for me to have some online or ‘skype’ supervision appointments each week. So initially, I guess I adjusted quickly to doing all my appointments this way. However work is slower this week, possibly as many of those I work with in supervision adjust and come to grips with what being ‘essential services’ means for them, their health and their whanau health. So whether you are navigating the working from home as an essential worker, or leaving the home to be ‘in the front line’, I hope this reflection has some usefulness to you as I think about this Rāhui we are in.
While many of you are possibly feeling very busy, I have more time to write. (‘Lucky‘ you). I’ve been thinking about what will help me (an extrovert and social butterfly) get through this time and what strategies will work for my life and work. Some of these I am doing better than others, but here are my offerings for you to try:
a) Three deep breaths at the start of the day. Feel alive, well and ready for what the day may bring in this ever changing situation.
b) Three gratitude statements; when there is so much to not be pleased with in our current situation, there is still plenty to be thankful for. I note this each day when standing in the shower, appreciating the hot running water, the roof over my head and the warm bed I have just slept in. (while being mindful that this will not be everyone’s experience world wide).
c) Have morning tea or lunch with colleagues, or friends. Make coffee or lunch then sit down on skype, zoom or some other video system and chat over lunch as usual.
d) Make an effort to text or touch base with the same people I would usually have incidental conversations with during the day, just to feel connected and not so isolated.
e) If working on the computer, get up between appointments and do a few squats or lunges or shoulder rolls; keeping the body moving and active. (This may be particularly important for someone who is used to being on the move more rather than sedentary in work).
f) Try and keep some usual rhythm to the day, keep using a diary to plan what to do and when, to assist with some structure and also some balance. (It can be just as easy to work longer hours than usual when working from home, as it is to not work ‘enough’).
g) When making ‘client’ notes, be clear that the ‘visit’ (aka phone call or skype) was made during the Covid-19 Level 4 and what this means. Clinical decision making might look different during this time and the context of these decisions could be lost or misunderstood in the future. Here’s an example; I’ve been imagining the client who is a child now but later, as an adult, asks to see their file, maybe 20 years from now. Imagine them trying to make sense as to why they didn’t have contact with a parent during this time. A clear explanation could help that adult understand any decisions made by workers at this time.
h) Plan non-work ‘dates’ with people. (So far I have managed a weekend coffee date with friends, as well as a board games night with other friends, both on zoom).
i) Three gratitude statements at the end of the day, to mark a finishing of another day of restricted movement.
j) And of course we all know about getting outside sometimes and moving and walking. I am particularly thankful to my yoga teacher who is providing online yoga classes.
Many of these suggestions don’t just apply for this period of life, but are good rhythms for life in any event. Which raises an interesting point. I’ve seen much commentary preferring the word Rāhui rather than ‘lockdown’ for this period we are in, hence why I use it here. Rāhui is a time to cease usual activity, but to prepare for the resuming of the activity when it is safe, or the tapu has been lifted. My understanding is that Rāhui assumes the return to a wairua ora at the end of the time.
So on the one hand we need to find a way to continue some of our ‘old rhythm’ in this new context we are in, so we can navigate our way through; and yet Rāhui is about stopping the usual practice. We are therefore invited to stop and reflect on what has not been serving us well up to now and what we may like to change and adapt as we come out the other side of this time. How great would it be to rise from this experience, more well, less stressed and with great life and work rhythm and rituals which support our wairua and the wairua and waiora of our community and environment. This Rāhui provides the opportunity to establish and find what is important to us. An opportunity presents itself…….I am choosing to step up to it. What about you?
Time to heal
A time to not go to places of habit
But to wait for the seeds of newness
Into a season of change
A season of possibility
Finding humanity’s way forward
(Poem by Karen Shepherd)