As we emerge from a long period of social restrictions, at least in the UK, many questions are thrown at us:
Will I remember how to socialise with people in real life?
Why is it taking so long to get ready in the morning before leaving the house of work?
Can I still check my phone while in work meetings?
Little questions like these feel small on their own but can be daunting when you have many questions to figure it out all at once.
If you are swinging between feeling excited and overwhelmed by it all: know that you are not alone.
Prioritising self-care as we return to a 3D life might feel counterintuitive - as we feel pulled to meet with friends and family again - and yet it will be vital to ensure that you can make the most of Spring as well as Summer.
Self-care is often presented to us as a luxury or a treat, when in fact it is a crucial part of feeling well and is what supports us to shift from surviving to thriving. During challenging times, it may seem as though we don’t have enough time to practice self-care and it can slide down our priorities list.
I have been guilty of that myself too. Trying to spin many plates at the same time until my digestion system is falling apart and one of my oldest friends gave me a pep talk and got me to reintroduce micro moments of self care in to my daily life; mindfully eating my breakfast once or twice a week, adding some gentle realising movements to my exercise routine and making sure I had down-time to attend to my priorities such as my accounts!
Not time consuming nor luxurious and yet it can have such a deep impact on your body/mind balance.
My commitments came from knowing all too well that I needed to refill my cup in order to be able to support others in my family, my community and in my work.
Use the Language of Consent to negotiate social distancing with others
As you meet with friends, family and colleagues just be aware that not everyone will be on the same page when it comes to social distancing.
Some of us might feel very anxious after a long period of isolation, others might be more accustomed to sharing indoors space with people outside their 'bubble' due to work commitments for instance.
Consent is a Yes and No choice
Consent is something that is generally understood in relation to any sexual experience however, it can be used also in relation to touch in general.
I like to think of Consent as a way to set clear boundaries & healthy relationships in any context not only sexual relationships. It's about agreeing what is safe and what is not safe, appropriate, and respectful – both emotionally and physically.
For instance, I've been teaching my kid for a while now that it’s OK to say NO when someone asks for a hug or a kiss.
Since the beginning of this pandemic I began to think that we can use the language of consent to also negotiate social distancing with both people you know well and those who you know less well.
Some good questions to ask:
- "Can I sit here?"
- "Am I at an OK distance from you?"
- "Where are you with hugs? I'd like to hug you and can do this from a distance too"
- “Are you OK if we go here for these plans?”
How to handle NO as an answer
- Accept NO as an answer and move on
- Do not pressure them to change their answer
- It’s OK to feel disappointed with a NO answer but always remember that respecting boundaries is the right thing to do
- The person who told you NO isn’t responsible for helping you process that disappointment.
Negotiating space and closeness in social distancing time isn't always easy - and can make us feel uncomfortable - potentially because it seems a new thing to do.
The language of consent seems to be more common in Anglo-Saxon countries and it might feel a little awkward to use in other parts of the world. For instance in Southern Europe personal physical space is a less strong concept, and people just touch, hug and kiss many times in every given day by greeting one another with two or three kisses on the cheeks.
Nonetheless, social norms are changing everywhere in the world and I do believe that using this approach can make interaction more respectful, pleasant and ultimately more inclusive.
I personally choose to use this approach because despite the pandemic, I'm not giving up on closeness all together. I'm too Mediterranean to accept a life with no physical touch and yet I would never want to upset anyone or ‘invade their space’ -
So I choose to use the language of consent to help me navigate social interactions and negotiate space at work as well as with friends.
Also, yes, I do know all the practical ways to safely hug one another - both adult & adult as well as adult & child. Because there is no way I'll give up hugging and yet I would never want to offend you or be a risk for you.
I'd be interested to know how this suggestion lands on you?