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02.04.2020 | Category: Messages Messages

Let us realise that we are not alone!

The period of self-isolation and the literal quarantine into which we have slipped so promptly, confronts us all with an unprecedented situation that calls into question a large part of our everyday habits, behaviours and rituals.

This absolutely unique situation, the first for all generations after World War II, puts our adaptability to the test. The competence of both our societal systems (political, economic and ethical) and our personal ones is being assessed. It has not yet been proven whether we can provide an adequate answer to these complex problems which are now piling up. As a result we feel highly stressed!

As studies have shown, stress is nothing more than a reaction to unforeseen events that are foreign to us, and to which we have insufficient or no comparative experience, whatsoever.

In our current case, the stress reaction is all the stronger because we have to simultaneously adapt in two different areas: in the work environment, where we have to radically change the way we work, and in the private sphere, where we also have to review the way we maintain social ties, and our moral and ethical values.

Stress Factors and Compensatory Behaviour

It is not surprising that recent studies on the effects of "corona circles" in China have revealed a very high level of anxiety, difficult emotional disorientation, anger, frustration and depression. Many cases of post-traumatic stress have been reported when isolation lasts longer than 10 days.

Stress research shows us that an individual in such a situation, with identical stress levels, will suffer fewer negative symptoms, if they are aware of how a certain number of so-called "moderator-compensating factors" can be activated.

These factors make it possible to reduce the effects of an objectively stressful situation on the psychophysiological response of an individual. In this way, they also improve subjective sensation and increase our "suffering tolerance".

These "moderating-compensating factors" are often already present in our daily life, but in times of spatial confinement their implementation is much more difficult and requires a conscious effort, combined with the necessary adoption of new habits.

From the research on stress in general, and on the stress of confinement as experienced in submarines, there follows a series of principles which, without being exhaustive, can be useful for us in this difficult time.

A Rhythm in Our Daily Activities

Maintaining the planned activities (working hours, breaks, etc.) in our days at home makes two things possible:
Focus on action rather than brooding: Studies clearly show that brooding (i.e. constantly thinking about the negative aspects of a  situation) increases the effects of a stressful situation. If we keep our actions simple and planned (getting up at the same time, dressing as if for a working day, setting certain working hours for ourselves and the children, etc.), we have a sense of control over the organisation of our days and have less "bandwidth" to think about.

Stay as close as possible to our classic physiological rhythms: Every change requires adaptation and, therefore, creates stress, even if we change our biological rhythms. We function better physically and psychologically if we can maintain a number of habits, including our sleeping and eating habits.

In other words, stay as close as possible to your usual physiological rhythms, and resist as much as possible the "destructive" temptation of drinking, snacking and letting yourself go.

Keep your movement and breathing regular during the day. The recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) are clear: in order to function properly, our body needs a minimum of exercise, which can put a strain on our respiratory and cardiovascular systems. Hence their recommendation of 10,000 steps per day to ensure that one can live well in this manner of isolation.

Since it can be difficult to maintain a minimum of movement in times of such extensive isolation, here are some ways to help us maximize our movement possibilities during these days:
Divide your essential errands
Plan one excursion every 4/5 days
Do not use the elevator
More frequent completion of housework
Practice strengthening, endurance and/or  
Strain movements (several tutorials are available).

Emotional balance and social connection are two key factors in stress management, especially in cramped and isolated situations !

Regulating our emotions means, first of all, recognising them within ourselves and then using them to improve our relationships with others. In this context, sharing our emotions with our environment and our social network is a key element. This requires us to put our feelings into words and thus improve our ability to recognise and communicate our emotions. It also allows us to recognise that we are not alone with our negative emotions.

Being a Role Model for Our Children

One of the burdensome factors of the situation we are facing is the responsibility we have towards our children. We owe them a form of truthful reassurance, but above all an example in terms of stress management. When they see that we are not able to cope with our stress, they may doubt their own ability to deal with it.

And the situation that they already find disturbing could turn into an anxiety-inducing situation. To minimize this risk and make them better at coping with their own stress in the future, here are some ideas:

First, we need to explain to our children that stress management skills are learned and can be refined throughout a person’s life: That's what the military must teach us. We can prepare individuals for better stress management by teaching them a number of techniques to maximize their potential in initial training, which they can then build upon in preparatory exercises once they are in their units.

The same is true for us civilians: we can learn the basic principles of stress management in school and refine them as our professional and personal experiences evolve.

Opening the Discussion on Stress

Accept that there are stress peaks and discuss with your children the effects of this stress on the body, emotions and thoughts. If we tell our children that this situation is objectively stressful for everyone, they will find it easier to accept their own stress and understand the reasons for it, as indicated in the previous articles.

In addition, opening a discussion with them about the effects of this stress will help them to recognise their stress symptoms in all their diversity (body, mind and soul) and experience them as natural. This non-judgmental approach to their feelings will enable them to connect with the here and now and to focus their minds more calmly on possible solutions for adaptation.

In this exceptional situation, which requires a strong and rapid adaptation in both private and professional life, we have to keep in mind that stress can be regulated and that we find the means to cope with it through exchange and cooperation with others.

Rephrased from maddyness.com.

Let us realise that we are not alone!

With this realisation, we want to call our members to a self-determined, active and meaningful use of the isolation imposed on us!

Even if we cannot pursue the usual activities due to the limits imposed on us at the moment, we can, within our personal environment, behave in such a way that we can be useful as members of the Lazarus Order. We can provide good examples for our family and friends, as well as for our immediate surroundings, and thus become a source of inspiration for others. According to our credo, we must heal the soul, mind and body.

Those who wish for others to follow - must lead ahead!

Let us not be discouraged by this difficult time and let us stand up for our "neighbours" in our immediate surroundings. We can take care of the people who need help with: 
Shopping (medicine/food/queuing!)
Term papers
Social needs (talks - sympathy)
Support with IT/Social Media/Telephone/Skype)
Pastoral advice services

This list is not exhaustive - it should be an impulse for us to continue to be interested in our fellow human beings, even if we see ourselves spatially limited to ourselves and our home.

What we do for ourselves dies with us.
What we do for others becomes immortal!