During the pandemic, I’ve spent a lot of time alone. I live by myself. I work from home. At times, I experienced fits of fidgetiness and restlessness, contributing to feelings of burnout.
Here’s what helped: reappraising the situation.
What I was feeling was isolation, and the loneliness that comes with it. Instead of letting it gnaw at me, I tried to remember: Loneliness is normal, sometimes even useful. I remembered that sadness existed in part to remind me of something I really value, the company of other people. I knew, when the opportunity arose, I’d reorient myself to immersion with others. And when that time came, I’d embrace it; it was a reminder that I was still capable of feeling the joy I had been lacking. And as a consolation, that felt good.
Cognitive reappraisal — sometimes called cognitive reframing — is most commonly encountered in therapy, where it’s used to regulate emotions. It’s a component of cognitive behavioral therapy, a whole suite of strategies that can encourage positive patterns of thinking and behavior.
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