Will We Miss Isolation Upon Return To Work?

This Melbourne mental health expert says we will miss isolation after the pandemic. Here’s why.

We don’t want to jinx it, but we seem to be on the road back to normalcy. QLD and NT are heading back into their spas, salons and clinics ready to treat clients and patients, and other states are seemingly not too far behind. 

But while practitioners are eager to get out of isolation and back to doing what they love, whispers from the medical and mental health communities are beginning to emerge that isolation has actually been doing us some good, and we may mourn it once it’s gone. Indeed, anxiety expert Pauline McKinnon believes many will miss isolation and social distancing and will probably feel a deep sense of loss when things return to some sense of normalcy.  

 Pauline has been a leader in the field of mental health, anxiety treatment and management and therapeutic meditation for over 30 years, and is a celebrated author, psychotherapist, and founder of the Stillness Meditation Centre in Melbourne.

 “There is a certain humanity in self-isolation,” she says. “ In fact, there is something natural and pure about it. To say I am thankful for the coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t be right. No ‘upside’ could justify the devastation this pandemic has wrought. But I think, if anything, the pandemic has taught us a few things. The Australian people have had to learn about solitude and appreciation of the here-and-now.”

 According to Pauline, solitude, quiet and social distancing can be incredibly beneficial to our mental health. For many, it is a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of day-to-day Australian life.

 “Australians should enjoy the calm whilst they have it. The idea of ‘quiet’ has gone out of fashion in the last few decades, but ‘quiet’ has kept human beings healthy for thousands of years. Only now do we expect to be preoccupied every hour of every day. I think it’s time that we break that habit. It’s through quiet that we replenish our thoughts and reset our mind.”

Pauline predicts that after the pandemic, many Australians will begin to long for self-isolation. 

“When COVID-19 dies down, you’ll see a wave of Australians professing their appreciation for the self-isolation period. We will have gotten used to the ‘new normal’ and the ‘old normal’ won’t seem so normal anymore.”

 “I’m recommending to my friends that they write a list of ten things they are going to miss at the end of this self-isolation period. Are you spending more time with your kids? Reading books you’ve been meaning to read for years? Going on long walks with your partner? Learning how to meditate? It can be something as simple as the lack of traffic on the roads!

“Think about what you’re going to miss about self-isolation because I promise you, a lot of Australians will definitely end up missing it.”

With business owners and practitioners soon to be thrown right back into the thick of things and inundated with an inevitable tsunami of excitable clients, it may be wise to heed Pauline’s advice and prepare oneself for a potential mourning of quietness. So how can we take this mindset back into the salon/spa/clinic with us upon the business’ return?

  • As Pauline recommends, make a list of the aspects of isolation you are grateful for, and think about how you can continue to incorporate them into your future methods. Perhaps like so many other practitioners you are grateful for the extra time that has allowed for further education, online learning, seminars etc? Chances are you can carry this through once business returns, with a few tweaks of your schedule, delegation and/or time management.
  • Consider staff flexibility. Could and would you continue (or allow your team to continue) offering online consultations?
  • Incorporate some wellness activities for your team, such as yoga or meditation, to improve mental health and allow for some ‘mental quiet’, or perhaps provide some of these types of resources for your team to enjoy at home, like an online subscription.
  • Continue to check in on your team’s mental health. While everyone might be excited to get back to their biggest passion, the rapid changes of pace can take their toll.

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