The pandemic and its associated restrictive measures have turned our lives upside down. Someone took self-isolation as a great opportunity to finally take a break from social contacts, but for most people it is painful, even if they have to work remotely. The inability to adapt to new conditions breeds anxiety and procrastination, as well as leads to conflicts with loved ones. Habits will help to resist in this difficult time.
In his 1892 lecture, William James said, “There is no more miserable person than the one for whom every decision – to smoke a cigarette, drink water, get to work, get out of bed or go to sleep – becomes a matter of reflection.” With the introduction of strict measures of social distancing, many people suddenly found themselves in a similar situation.
Breaking the usual routine means that they can no longer live a significant part of the day on autopilot. As a result, if earlier it took them only an hour (or even less) to take a shower, dress and have breakfast!), now these procedures are delayed until noon. And then it gets worse. As Balzac wrote in 1830, “the days are melting in their hands, like ice in the sun.”
Some of the disruption to the usual daily routine brought relief, but most people took it by surprise. This is not surprising.
Habits not only allow us to do everyday activities on autopilot (releasing consciousness), but also set boundaries between work and personal life. People prone to mood swings, they also help to cope with emotions and not to succumb to anxiety, irritation and laziness.
Having found an activity that will completely absorb their attention, many people will be able to naturally develop a new mode of the day that will surely suit them better than the routine imposed from the outside. Change itself can have a stimulating effect.
While new habits are forming, let’s just pause and think about what is happening.
Today’s world is very strange and even frightening. The desire to avoid uncertainty by returning to the usual routine or having worked out a new one is quite natural. But the day-by-minute days leave no time for reflection, while uncertainty can prompt us to rethink our way of life.
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