Furlough Learnings #1

Did you know that you can numb the pain of negative emotions by keeping yourself busy? I learned that the hard way this week. In the old normal world (what do we even call that time now? BC – Before Covid?) busy was paired with every emotion and event I had. Birthdays were happy and busy, whilst work was busy and stressed.  My holidays had packed itineraries, so I could be busy whilst excited, and I even multitasked relaxing by watching TV whilst being on social media so I could be chilled and busy.

Having been furloughed though, with 6 weeks of time on my hands, none of the adjectives to describe me now contain the word being busy. And it seems that without busy in my life, emotions can be strong and full on and sometimes a little overwhelming.

I’m getting overexcited about food shopping, I’m crying at news reports and panel comedy TV shows are hilarious. All these are emotions that I’m used to experiencing, albeit in a less exaggerated form.

I’m not used to lonely though. That one hit me hard recently, sweeping in like the last snowstorm of winter, hard and cold and surprising.  More than anything I  wanted to laugh so hard with my friends that I have to hold their arms to keep myself upright, to impulsively hug at the delivery of amazing (or devastating) news, to catch and respond to the micro-expressions that Zoom doesn’t video, to lean in close to hear the late night shouted tales told in a busy pub. Lonely felt intense and unwanted. The emotion has only just arrived and it had already overstayed its welcome.

So, grateful that I had a coping strategy, I did what I always do when I need to dampen down the feels. I made myself busy.

Who says coping strategies need to be good? Here’s to busy and beer and biscuits, long may they give us the ability to cope.

p.s. I took this photo on the walk I took to keep busy.

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