If you went on a pilgrimage to Santiago, you probably experienced and dealt with some of the aspects of isolation before. So today’s post will focus on how you can use your Camino skills in these strange times of self-isolation.
You’ve done this before
“It must be easier for you, since you have done this before.” Not quite understanding the remark my aunty made, I gave her a puzzled look. “You’ve walked the Camino, you’ve been on the road by yourself for months.”
Then, I understood what she meant. Certain things you’ll encounter as a pilgrim on the road to Santiago bear a resemblance to our current experience of self-isolation. One in particular. You’re spending entire days by yourself, inside you head, with limited or no social contact.
You’ve done it before.
That means: You already have the skills to deal with this.
So, really, the question you should ask yourself is – how did I deal with it back then?
How to use your Camino skills
Need a little refresh (or, for those who didn’t experience a long distance hike yet, a little inspiration)? I’ll share some of the Camino skills I’ve used in the past few weeks to deal with this lockdown situation.
Listen to you body
On the Camino, your body is the most important thermometer of your well-being. It tells you when you need to eat, hit the bushes for the bathroom and when you need a break. In other words, your body talks to you.
This counts for everyday life, and especially now when self-isolating as it’s easy to ignore our bodies signals.
Skill #1 Make it a priority to check-in with yourself multiple times a day and listen to what your body needs!
Moderate the conversations in your head
Once you’re removed from a social environment, you all of a sudden realise you’ve got an entire social environment in your head. “Are you sure you’ve interpreted that waymark right? Do you have enough food with you for the upcoming days? Why aren’t you going faster? Sure this is safe?”
Although it’s totally normal to experience an overload of noise when you’re alone, you can practice moderating the conversations. Give the voices space, but try not to get involved. Unless shit’s getting really bad and you go total asshole on yourself. In that case, stand up for yourself and tell those voices to take a hike.
Skill #2 Observe the conversations in your head, give them space but try not to get caught up in it.
Walking to Santiago (and any other day) journaling kept me standing. I pretty much wrote down anything – what was going on during the day, inside my head, my fears, my doubts but also words of encouragement, things I was grateful for and beautiful stuff I encountered during the day.
Reflecting on those small things that have brightened up your day, expressing gratitude and writing down difficult experiences and fears, really helps to empty your mind and take a different perspective.
Skill #3 Write down the highlights and lowlights of each day. What are you grateful for, and would you do anything different tomorrow?
Be kind(er) to yourself
I only acknowledge my efforts once I arrived at the beach in Fisterra. Soaking up the sun and ocean views, I finally found the space to be kind to of myself.
Looking back on my journey, I wish I’d been somewhat kinder to myself throughout my pilgrimage. Being hard on yourself in a situation that is already difficult, often makes things worst. Cut yourself some slack, acknowledge that what you’re doing is difficult enough already. No need to flog yourself along.
Skill #4 Be aware that what you’re doing is hard enough already, and be a little kinder to yourself because of it.
The road to Santiago has now become the interior’s of our houses, apartment, studio’s or whatever it is that you find yourself in at this moment. By ourselves, days on end, with limited to no social interaction.
Remember: You’ve done this before...