Although our homes have always been considered to be a form of sanctuary from the rest of the world, over the past few weeks they have also become a place of safety and for many people, a place of work, a place to educate children, or a place to self -isolate. We know about the importance of diet, exercise and mental health during the current lockdown, terms that have almost become watch words of this crisis, along with new terminology, such as social distancing or furloughing workers… So, I didn’t want to write about health and wellbeing, to list immune boosting foods, or the benefits of watching nature – all of which I’d recommend by the way, but these are familiar themes for writers of Sunday supplements, or purveyors of health food products.
Instead, I want to highlight the importance of empathy, an emotion that is so often overlooked. I believe we need the thread of empathy in our lives to sustain mental, emotional and physical wellness. Why? Because, emotionally intelligent people seek, deep down, to understand others and themselves, it’s simply intrinsic to our makeup. Empathy stimulates chemicals in our brain, which can settle a troubled mind and even resolve long term emotional problems. Empathy is, I think, a good all – rounder to benefit your mental and physical wellbeing, especially at this time.
The current crisis has in many ways helped us to reassess ourselves and our relationship with others. Two examples immediately come to mind – Captain Tom Moore, who from the simple act of walking laps of his garden, created empathy with some 1.5 million people and raised over £30 million for the NHS. Or the Thursday night clapping, which has become both a way of thanking our key workers, but also as a way of connecting with our neighbours and showing empathy.
Everyone’s circumstances are different, but whether your home is part of a noisy household or you live alone, your home needs to have a healthy heart and soul, and to form the backdrop for self-compassion and empathy. We must learn to reach out and express ourselves when in need, to understand ourselves and others. Empathy can act as quiet medicine, a remedy for personal frustrations, upsets with others, or to settle a whole range of uncomfortable emotions.
A happy household is an understanding household.
Be it home alone – your understanding will be in the form of self-compassion and empathy, which will hopefully help you and others gain healthy perspectives.
For a busy household, full of tasks and noise – simply remembering how powerful understanding can, (or might be), between you and the household. Empathy can help you regulate your emotions and if you step back, you can come back fresher and more able to deal with a difficult situation.
And there are other benefits, such as humour and warmth, to you, neighbors and your home, along with more joy in everyday tasks – with, or without a lockdown.
By Claire Harris is a complementary therapist, who lives and works in Southsea