Learning how to keep in the moment is crucial for our wellbeing at the moment. For some time I have advocated taking small steps and Polé Polé (written as polepole) is one of the phrases I often use. Staying in the moment, taking your time and doing one step at a time really help us
Pole pole is a Swahili term. It literally means slowly, slowly, and it shows you that there are occasions that you need to remain patient know where you’re going, and take one step at a time. I discovered this when I was recovering in hospital. When I was in Kenya in a very small, rural hospital. And I couldn’t even lift up a cup for a drink. I would have to ring a bell that was right next to me in order to even get the most basic things. And I remember saying to the doctor, “when will I be able to do this? When will I be able to get up” and he said “pole pole”. Slowly slowly. Take your time. You now know that you’re going to recover. But it’s just going to take time.
Pole Pole: take things slowly
And we can forget this, when we are in a situation like we’re in now: a crisis. We’re thinking “when?” When on earth will I be able to get back to doing things normally? When will I be able to see my family? When will I be able to enjoy going out with my friends? And the fact is that we have got to adopt the pole pole philosophy, taking our time; knowing where we’re going. But to recognize that it’s going to be a slow process.
So why am I sharing all of this today? Well I’m fully aware that we are all having a sense of overwhelm with the situation that we’re in at the moment. And it can be very easy, coming up with lots of ideas for getting out of this. But in fact, we should only focus on the things that we can control, and they can include, making sure that you’re safe; making sure that you reduce the risk of catching this horrible virus, but also your mental and physical health. Well, in fact, all areas of wellbeing. There are situations where we are going to feel overwhelmed because of the enormity of everything. But keeping in the moment is one of those things that is a very very good way of avoiding thinking about those things that you can’t control.
Take one step at a time
I often think about taking one step and then another. I do a lot of swimming. And quite often I can clear my mind by literally thinking about each stroke: every kick: every arm stroke to move forward. So the time moving towards my target of perhaps one kilometre that I’m going to be swimming. And we need to adopt this in this crisis.
So here are a couple of things that I think could help.
* One of them is to take those steps one by one. Think about one thing that you’re going to achieve every day, perhaps at work, it is you’re going to send out a newsletter to everybody that you are going to write a blog or, you are going to pick up the phone and talk to three clients to check how they are celebrate those things, and just focus on that rather than the whats, and the ifs.
*Secondly, I want you to make sure that if you do feel overwhelmed and anxious, that you think about something else that you could do. Could you go for a walk. We are still allowed to go for walks. Could it be that you go and put on some music that can bring you real joy. Could it be that you stop what you’re doing, and take some good deep breaths in and out, and focus literally on the breathing.
* And thirdly, I want you to think about the hope in your lives. Hope is one of those emotions that is very, very powerful. Hope is an emotion that has got us where we are now. Hope has been the emotion that has brought us forward. After catastrophes, in the past. So I want you to think about hope. Let’s hope that this dreadful situation will be over soon. Let’s hope that the vaccine can be administered to as many people as possible, very quickly. Let us hope that the NHS isn’t totally overwhelmed. And let us hope that those people that have the virus recover relatively quickly.