A conversation with Eveline Lehmann, a Mental Coach and Psychological Counsellor.
It was an unusually warm Friday afternoon. The library was filling up with mums and kids who were looking to borrow books for the weekend. I could feel the air was heavy with anticipation and apprehension. No -one was saying it out loud, but we were all worried, because closing the schools meant this was getting serious and perhaps, dare I say it, a little out of control!.
Later many of us would think it was already way out of control and they should have taken these measures at least a week earlier. But at the time we were too preoccupied and focused on how on earth we were going to make this situation work, stuck with kids at home and husbands working from home too! What exactly did home quarantine mean? How long was it going to last?
And still, at this point, we don’t know. My feeling, at least though, is we are getting used to home quarantine and finally accepting the situation. Amidst the anxiety, worry and uncertainty, people are starting to show some real kindness and care for each other. Funds are being raised, groceries are being delivered and, most importantly, kindness and compassion are being shown.
I’ve also been thinking about how to help my community. For most mums life has become even busier than before the corona virus. Yes we’re at home, but now we have to cook three meals a day, keep the house clean, take the kids for a walk if possible, do home schooling and keep things as quiet as possible so our husbands can work. And then there are many of us who also have our own businesses and home offices to keep going too!
My work as an entrepreneur has slowed down a lot. I still try to get things done, but I barely dedicate 10% of my time to my work at the moment. I often feel I need time for myself too, just a little silence to process things, to process what is happening around me, but I can’t really. I have the early mornings and an hour in the evening if I’m not too tired.
The only way to deal with this mentally, as I’m finding, is to talk to other mums, to share, and to keep the connection going between us. And I also feel called to add into the mix some specialists I know, and invite them to share their advice on how to deal with every day life in the time of the Covid-19 pandemic!
Today I’m meeting (virtually of course) Eveline Lehmann who is a Mental Coach and Psychological Counsellor. She teaches guided meditation classes and long- term courses for self-experience and female empowerment.
In our conversation, it becomes clear that her overall approach, not just to the current circumstances, but to life in general, is about keeping an open and curious mind. It’s also about developing awareness of your thoughts, actions and, more importantly, asking yourself what drives you and what triggers you without judging yourself. For Eveline practicing mindfulness daily is essential, because it’s one of the best ways to understand what you need as an individual in challenging times.
My first question to Eveline is, “How can we take care of ourselves but on a mental level, to heal and accept this global shock?!
Eveline: At the moment we have to take things one day at a time. It is a matter of seeing this challenge as an opportunity to create and design our daily life in the best possible way for ourselves and the family, while taking into account the measures to be observed by the Federal Council and the Federal Office of Public Health (BAG). I would advise moms to look and create a sensible daily structure with planned breaks, and not to be too hard on themselves. Always ask yourself:
What do I need now, what is good for me?
What has been useful in demanding situations so far?
How do I use my resources appropriately?
In such circumstances, always remember, less is more. Take things in its own time, day after day, make the daily routine as pleasant as possible. Accept help if necessary, enjoy great solidarity and share your own knowledge with others.
Now is the time to look and to train your eye and senses for the essentials –- to become aware of all the little simple and comforting elements in life.
In the case of pronounced anxiety symptoms, talking to a specialist can also bring relief.
Tsitaliya: As a mother of 3 kids, what would be your advice to mothers and families who are now all spending time together and probably have not much time to read or meditate…?
Eveline: For me practicing awareness is really helpful. You can do it in any moment of your day. It helps me personally to recognize and formulate my needs and those of my children. I think the dialogue at home is very important in order to do justice to both sides.
My belief is that creating a calm, relaxed environment can help with constructive exchange. Mindfulness is one way to create such a relaxing atmosphere. If you feel pressure, try to pause for a moment, tune in taking in the warming spring rays, breathing in the oxygen-rich air, feeling the ground under your feet and noticing the lively twittering of birds.
Try to appreciate – despite everything – the wonder of nature. Children often have more direct access in this regard and are easier to amuse by inspiring.
Now is a suitable time (within the scope of the possibilities) to implement creative projects together. Instead of looking outside, find inspiration inside. Ask yourself:
What do I like to do?
Is there an open heart desire?
Think of a vision that would like to be realized?
Furthermore I would like to refer to the Netzwerk Psychische Gesundheit Schweiz, where you find „10 Schritte für psychische Gesundheit“, of course they have to be adapted to the actual quarantine-situation.
Very helpful could also be:
Progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training, mindfulness training, meditation, breathing technique.
The online app « CALM
Achtsamkeits-Training, Jan Thorsten Esswein, GU Gräfe und Unzer Verlag Gmbh, Audio-CD included
Meditation – Mehr Klarheit und innere Ruhe, Marie Mannschatz, GU Gräfe und Unzer Verlag Gmbh, Audio-CD included
Richtig atmen – Spannungen lösen, Energie tanken, BLV Buchverlag GmbH & Co. KG, Audio-CD included
Tsitaliya: Finally let me ask you about recovery techniques. Sooner or later this will be over! But each one of us will have to heal from the fear, and from the trauma of all this! So what is your advice for people – how can they start a process of healing after this?
Eveline: Just the thought that the current situation will be over one day brings us positive feelings and emotions, and a certain confidence. Pleasant perspectives illuminate the way, so the following questions are definitely worthwhile:
What works, what brings relief?
What is possible now, what later?
What can I look forward to in the medium term?
What is important for each one of us is to take things in its own time, to reflect, work through and integrate what we’ve learned. This is an opportunity for us to grow with the challenge and to stay open for the new to come to our lives.
There are specialists available for professional support and in-depth analysis of the events. Appropriate specialist departments will help with existential questions.
Tsitaliya: What lessons do you personally find in the current challenge?
Eveline: Once again, I become impressively aware of how vulnerable we humans are and the great responsibility that each individual bears in such a state of emergency. Being human connects us all. We are never alone –- the exemplary solidarity acts as a light of hope in these challenging times.
For me, resilience is the key to mental health. The inner strength helps to survive such difficult life situations, to master them and –- in the best case –- to even to come out of them in a refined manner.
For me personally, this is the moment to focus on what is essential again. What is good for me, what is important to me in life? How do I use my life, energy and time wisely? What contribution can I make for my fellow human beings? Last but not least, gratitude is essential for me.