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Episode 78: Check Your Connection

**These are ideas and inspiration that might help you to find a way to make your own situation more enjoyable, whatever it may be, and wherever in the world you may be. My wish is for you to find more peace and calm during these times so please make your own decisions based on what is happening where you are. Please be safe in whatever you choose to do.**

I had the pleasure of hosting a half-day online retreat for my Mastermind members recently. I had wanted to hold it in person when I visited Japan in June of this year. However, the COVID situation made that impossible and my trip and event were canceled. I wanted to make sure we had a chance to do a long-form type of gathering and if it had to be online, well we would do it online. We all tried our best to make the most of the event by creating a retreat at home or some members were able to go and stay somewhere nearby that wasn’t their usual home which enabled them to switch off more than if they were in their own home.

I also took my own advice and organised a weekend away for our family on the Archipelago near Gothenburg. We stayed in a beautiful house overlooking the sea for two nights, which really helped me to switch off from the rush of our daily life in the city. The best part was sending my family back early so that I could run the online retreat from our beach house without distraction. It really made a big difference to the atmosphere. Everyone was so keen to hear from each other and learn from each other. The purpose of the event was to give everyone a chance to switch off from their daily lives and to give their minds a chance to play, dream, and envision.

Something I noticed was that we were all so desperate for human connection. In these times, it’s not encouraged to meet others if we can avoid it, for good reason, too. But this is leaving many of us feeling starved of connection. Online does not replace in-person, that is for sure. It is not a great second best but it does the trick when necessary. The problem is that at the moment this is the only connection that many people are getting and they are wondering why they feel like they are alone and isolated.

I think I’ve talked about loneliness before, but I think it’s becoming even more of an issue now that we are spending even more time at home. Many of us don’t go to an office to work as we used to. Some kids are still not able to return to school as usual if at all. Not being able to connect with your friends is really hard for them and for adults too. If you have a family, that’s great, but don’t feel bad for wanting to spend some time with other people who are not your family!

So first of all it’s important to note that we are probably lacking in meaningful connection right now and also that even though we are doing more and more online things, that these are not a replacement for in-person times when we actually meet other people.

I’ve been working online for over 10 years now and I definitely noticed the difference in my own energy levels after say 3-4 hours of teaching online classes (worn out and worn down!) as opposed to 3-4 hours of teaching people in real life (worn out but not worn down, energised if you will). This is why I try to make an in-person part of all my coaching offerings because the in-person events are just so magical. It doesn’t matter how many people are in the room, the energy that people bring with them really contributes to an amazing atmosphere (and I encourage them to bring their best, most open energy with them so it really goes off).

How do we get this human connection in times like this? I know some people who must stay within a 500 meter radius of their homes at the moment. Some countries have rules of no more than 6 people together at once. However, I think even just noticing that this is what you need can make a huge difference to how you feel. Notice that online isn’t cutting it for you and know that it is normal! There is nothing wrong with you and you are doing the best you can until you can do better.

As an introvert, I love to connect with people, but I know that I have to be careful not to overdo it or I will be a run-down mess by the evening (by mess I mean I am in my bed reading a book, trying to recharge my batteries) with nothing to give my family when they come home from work and school. So for many introverts who are staying safe at home with their families right now (Notice how I avoided the word “trapped” or “stuck” here!!) over connection is a problem too. One thing that really helped me when we were living in our tiny apartment in Japan for two months that had nowhere to go (perhaps I could have shut myself in one of the futon closets, but centipedes like to hide in there, so no) I would call my futon my “check out zone”. My kids who are 9 and 6 now are old enough to understand that if I am in my futon, I’d like to be left alone and perhaps they could find their other parent and ask them or work it out themselves unless they have one arm falling off or something urgent like that.

Finally, do a connection audit!

Am I connecting enough with people who I really trust and care for?

Even if we can’t meet in person, just thinking about these people can improve our mood. Notice that.

Am I having too much connection with family being home together all the time or spending too much time online that is more than I need or not benefiting me?

Perhaps creating a check out zone or communicating with your partner that you will be unavailable for the next hour could help you refresh a tiny bit. Just because you are sitting on the sofa/in the car in the driveway/bath/bed does not mean you are actually “on duty” just for that time.

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