Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I mean, who wouldn’t get dressed for work? You might not be wearing quite what you usually would i.e. slippers, however I certainly hope you would not Zoom in the nude!
Let me ask you another question, how do you feel in certain clothes? If, for instance, you were wanting to be comfortable or do something sporty you would choose appropriate attire. If you wanted to impress a new boss or potential partner, you would choose what to wear, probably quite carefully with much thought, deliberation and swapping and changing to boot.
The point is: you think about it. Whether you are conscious of that thought or not is another thing. Getting dressed has become a conscious and unconscious part of your daily routine.
So, what is a routine?
What do you think of routine? Checks, operations, procedures, processes. Often something that we like a break from. However, returning to a routine brings with it a sense of familiarity and comfort.
During the global pandemic and dealing with Covid 19 and all its misery, loss, heartache and restrictions, it has been a common experience that to some extent your routine will have changed. I know mine certainly has. If someone had told me this time last year, I would take the whole of my business on-line, frankly I would have laughed, self-confessed technophobe that I am!
When we consider what changes have been made, it can be mind boggling and a little unsettling. For as much as we, as humans, want to break free (Bless you Freddy), returning to the familiar comfort of the basic, humdrum of life gives us a sense of safety and security. We metaphorically return to the cave. It is a deeply seated need that comes from our prehistoric ancestors.
Back to routines…
The analogy I often use is of a pinball machine. These are a real blast from the past for me! I apologise to my younger readers and followers who might now have to do a Google search.
When you think about a pinball machine, you imagine the ball, whipping around in all directions, being flipped out of danger by the flippers while you frantically stab at the buttons with your fingers. The ball pings all over the place, dinging here, lighting things up there, occasionally disappearing down a hole as you wait in anticipation to see where it will pop up again.
For this exercise, you are the ball.
Going about your daily business, doing the things you usually do, many things will be automatic so barely need any conscious thought at all. In your frenzied activity, you are constantly bashing against the sides of the machine. The box structure represents the rules and boundaries. It is made up of routines and things such as the law of the land, moral values, instinctual elements and your sense of right and wrong. Basically, the things that keep you safe. Yet, constantly you bash against it.
Finally, your bid for freedom pays off and, as the ball, you find yourself outside the confines of the box. This is great! Free at last! You can do exactly what you want, when you want! No rules, no obligations, no boring routine! And it feels great, liberating, exciting!
For a time, you thoroughly enjoy your freedom.
Then the shine begins to wear off. You notice that it doesn’t feel like fun anymore. In fact, if you are honest with yourself, it’s beginning to feel a little unnerving. The panic creeps in, a bit at a time and you start to wonder what to do. Well, you are still outside the box so, technically, you can do anything; there are no rules. You have no responsibility, no obligation, no cares. That’s all inside the box with the routine stuff.
The penny begins to drop. Although the routine can be boring and the rules tedious at times, they are, quite literally, what keeps us safe. Now you have a choice. Stay outside and have all the freedom you want, but where it can be scary and unfamiliar or get back to the box.
Once back at the box, you immediately sense a feeling of relief. You, once again, know the lay of the land, are clear about expectations and can breathe a little easier. You appreciate the rules a bit more for the wider context of safety and familiarity which help us feel secure. And you have come to realise that the box is your friend, working with it, learning to negotiate, to ask for what you want within the confines is much more comfortable than fending for yourself outside.
And, at times, as a reward, you can leave the box with its blessing for a time, to explore, to push yourself outside of your comfort zone and experience new things to gradually move out the sides of the box to incorporate the new level of comfort and safety you are creating for yourself.
So, when I asked if you get dressed for work it is a way of looking at our choices and how we cope in the face of change. Keeping some semblance of routine is good for our mental health and feelings of safety. Getting ready for work, or an event is important for our psychological wellbeing because it is a familiar anchor in the sea of change when the perception is that we have little control over anything else.
I hope you have found this useful. If you have any questions or are struggling with coping with the sometimes devastating effects of the lockdown, please contact me.