I’ve been living and teaching in the Andalucia province of Spain for four years now and there’s a particular phrase that I’ve heard at least once a day since I arrived: ‘poco a poco’ (little by little/bit by bit/one step at a time).
The Andaluz in particular, among the Spanish, have absolutely no sense of urgency – and so it is that this phrase is used for pretty much everything. If you mention your frustration at not learning Spanish quickly enough: poco a poco. When the plumber has taken three times as long to finish a job than quoted: poco a poco. If a relative has been unwell and is slow to recover: poco a poco. When you feel you’re not making sufficient progress in teaching a class of unruly children: poco a poco.
You get the idea!
This laid back approach to all aspects of life can be incredibly frustrating for someone who has come from the hustle and bustle of busy city life and is used to speed and urgency.
And so, the coronavirus pandemic arrives – and, for the very first time, I finally understand and appreciate the power of this relaxed Andaluz mentality and, along with the exceptional community spirit, feel blessed to be living my lockdown here in Spain.
Spain has been hit hard, with over 155,000 infected (at the time of writing) – the highest figure in Europe so far. For a nation used to outdoor living, eating out, large family gatherings, a multitude of fiestas and parades, you’d expect the severe lockdown – which began here on 14 March – to be incredibly tough. And it is. However, this is where ‘poco a poco’ really comes into its own power, because by surviving lockdown – one step at a time, it really is bearable. It does actually feel possible that we can make it through this, without going completely insane!
‘I think when we don’t know what to do, it’s wise to do nothing.
Sit down, quiet our minds and breathe deeply.’
This unprecedented situation has been a huge shock for everyone. With lockdown times being extended around the globe, we’re constantly having to adapt to changes in our ‘normal’ lives. It’s vital that we protect our mental health, now more than ever. Perhaps, by simply taking it little by little, moment by moment, this is possible. Let’s not spend too much time mourning the loss of things from the past, nor spend too much time overthinking or stressing about the future. Let’s just settle into this moment, and then the next, and then the next…
Obviously this is easier said than done! There are some wonderful talks from Eckhart Tolle on YouTube, which give guidance on how to calm the mind and explain the power of ‘this moment’, far better than I can! Definitely worth a listen.
Our self-care blog (from the New Year) contains helpful strategies for mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. You’ll need to adjust some of the tips for the indoor life – but they’re more valuable than ever during this lockdown life. Let’s also remember how fortunate many of us are, to have this gift of time in which we can rest and recharge.
The main message around the globe is that we must STAY AT HOME – to protect ourselves and others. Yes, it is challenging. Yes, we’ll have good days and bad days. But as with all things, this too shall pass. So, for now, let’s embrace community spirit and adopt the phrase ‘poco a poco’… 🙂
The team at Osito ESL hopes you and your loved ones are all safe and well. Our thoughts are with those most affected by the virus and we wish them all a speedy recovery. We remain so inspired by – and immensely grateful for – all the healthcare workers and others around the world tirelessly caring for (and supporting) people and their communities during this time.
Articles for Further Inspiration and Support
Acts of kindness: https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/coronavirus/random-acts-kindness
Unicef guide on explaining COVID-19 to children: https://www.unicef.org/coronavirus/how-talk-your-child-about-coronavirus-covid-19
Helping Each Other to Thrive
If you have any other links, helpful advice or personal experiences to share, please pop them in the comments. We’re all in this together so let’s help each other and keep our spirits up.