Tassos Sarampalis

Question from Nicol: Lorem Ipsum?

Yvonne asked Nicol about her positive experiences during the pandemic months

Nicol Arellano Véliz

I think the idea of a silver lining is so meaningful these days since most of us might be looking for coping mechanisms while we are working (fully or partially) from home. For sure we are experiencing life in very diverse ways. For me, being fully aware of my daily experience, of the details of everyday life has been a silver lining and a sign of self-care: this is, enjoying the morning tea, the sunlight, the wind, the sky, the seasonal transitions, the music, my mother’s messages, the motivating meetings with my Ph.D. supervisor, going for daily walks -enjoying myself and the company of others-. 

If I think deeply, perhaps, the most important insight during these months has been finding a healthy equilibrium between the time that I spend by myself and the pleasing time that I spend in other’s company. I believe that both instances are more profound than before: the interactions with significant others, looking in the eye, feeling the interpersonal closeness, social warmth; and also, the moments in solitude leading to self-reflection. Undoubtedly, I am enjoying all of them: The simplicity of being alone is a prelude to future encounters, it makes me realize how valuable it is to have meaningful relationships, and how important it is to work on ourselves to improve those interactions. Moreover, because now I am immersed in a more intentional way of relating, it’s likely to have a less number of social interactions in ‘real-life’ but deeper, more rewarding, sincere, and delighting. Additionally, this has been a time to develop some aspects of myself and growing up outstandingly. 

So, why not? This very personal process of self-reflection has been a silver lining, it became an opportunity for remarkable self-growth.

Finally, I would like to rephrase Arciero and Bondolfi (2009)* to emphasize the importance of paying deep attention to daily life: Through the concrete activities we immerse ourselves in, what we worry about, through the things we do, the people we meet, the decisions we make, the way we experience our body; through our everyday life, we glimpse our Selfhood. This means we become self-aware by paying attention to simple activities; we can see the reflection of who we are through our daily itineraries, through our ways of feeling, experiencing, relating, and living. Therefore, for me, working on being more conscious in normal life is key for attaining a richer self-awareness, accepting the legitimacy of being the person who I am; making decisions more deliberately, achieving my purposes, developing, and enhancing my sense of Self being in the world.

(*) Arciero, G. & Bondolfi, G. (2009). Selfhood, Identity and Personality Styles. West Sussex, UK Wiley-Blackwell.

What was your silver lining during this period?

Yvonne Groen

During the Corona crisis I have realized that working together with colleagues and students on projects is as important for me as the projects themselves. Due to the home working situation it is much harder to feel connected to colleagues and students, and online or telephone meetings do not make up for this loss of real live social contact. Even though a day in the office full of meetings can be tiring, still at the end of the day they energized me and motivated me to work on the projects. After a day of online meetings, however, I feel exhausted and on some days the motivation was hard to find.

How can this be explained? One explanation from a neuropsychological perspective, which I find very interesting, is the lack of real eye contact. When we make real eye contact, our reward system is activated and we are better able to read other people’s thoughts, feelings and intentions. In online meetings hardly anyone looks into the camera, therefore our natural search for eye contact is in vain. More on this topic can be read in this Dutch blog post: Waarom online vergaderen via video je zo uitput

After realizing that a day of online meetings drains my work motivation away, I started planning at least one real live contact per day. And a visit of once or twice a week to the office also helped me, and made me look forward to some real contact. Of course taking the Corona measures into account. I had never thought that real live social contact was so important to my work. I realized that working with people in real life motivates me to do my job, they are my silver lining.

P.S. Being 40+ I also realized that I needed special glasses when doing screen work. My new glasses are my silver lining as well, because they helped me tremendously to feel less tired after a day of online meetings.