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Practical advice for self-isolation from a former victim of kidnapping

BOSCO GUTIERREZ CORTINA
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He was held for ransom for 9 months and not only survived but used the time for good, Now he’s got tips for the rest of us.

Mexican architect Bosco Gutiérrez was held for ransom for nine months, after which he managed to escape alive. His case is interesting because of the strength he showed upon his return to ordinary life. Thirty years later, he’s applying his experience to the isolation that most of the world is living in because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gutiérrez began self-isolation with his family 15 days before his country’s government required it, “in view of what was happening in China, Italy and Spain, and what started to happen to some friends who got infected.”

To deal with a prolonged stay at home, during which we cannot go out except for basic needs, here is what Gutiérrez recommends:

1
Keep a demanding schedule.

Don’t let yourself spend the day on the sofa. Draw up a plan for yourself. Your imagination can make your life hell, so don’t give it a chance. Get up early and go to bed early. Try to follow the rhythm of the sun.

2
Remember your main motivation.

Remember that we are isolating ourselves for one reason: to avoid catching a virus that can be lethal—not to infect ourselves or other people. That can motivate us to be disciplined.

3
Spiritual survival is important, too.

We should do more than try to save our bodies. It’s a good time to remember that we’re called to be holy. We’re called to heaven, whatever the circumstances of our life. Isolation is what we have to deal with now.

4
Take advantage of your time.

Time is precious, even in these circumstances. Take advantage of this quarantine to be productive, doing things that matter to you.

5
Free yourself from anxiety.

 

That way you’ll have peace of mind. How do you do that? With intelligence. Because we are intelligent beings, we’re able to adapt to new circumstances. Take this period on with a sense of sportsmanship. Adapt to your apartment, your house—tidy it up, clean it up… I did it in a space that’s 3 yards long by 1 yard wide.

Viktor Frankl, author of the classic work Man’s Search for Meaning, survived a concentration camp, and later wrote, “When the situation is good, enjoy it. When it is bad, transform it. If it cannot be transformed, transform yourself.”

You can change your attitude. How this confinement affects you depends on how you deal with it.

6
Grow in your prayer life.

Confinement is a great opportunity to meditate, to think deeply about the big issues in your life, and to talk to God. Even if you don’t have faith, you can still practice meditation and introspection, and adjust your focus on what really matters to you. If you make a habit of praying, this time can be of great value in strengthening and growing in your interior life.

7
Don't be afraid to make sacrifices.

Do you exercise to strengthen your body? All right. Well, your most important “muscle” is your will. Self-denial is a great form of exercise, and it strengthens your character. Being able to say “I’m not going to do this now” is a victory in itself. Offering things up is virtuous, and has benefits for yourself and for your children: It will make them strong.

8
Take care of your physical health.

 

These days, be mindful of what you eat, and get exercise. I decided not to eat sugar and to use minimal salt. When I was kidnapped, I did 3 hours of exercise a day: sit-ups, and jogging in my own way, lifting my knees high and going back and forth on the same bit of floor because I didn’t have space. If I could do that, you can exercise in the space of your house, whether it’s a mansion or 300 square feet.

It’s important to get physically tired in order to sleep well: I slept like a baby (despite being kidnapped!). How can you manage to do exercise without quitting? What I did was look for a reason. I’ll explain this in the following point.

9
Look for a reason.

In order to achieve something challenging like daily exercise, look for a reason that motivates you to fight for it. Look for your treasure.

What is your treasure? In my case it was my wife Gabi, my children (7 when I was kidnapped) … in short, my people. I offered up a minute of jogging for each of them. That way you won’t fail. When I did sit-ups, I did the same thing: 50 sit-ups for each child and then 50 sit-ups for Gabi. Then I’d do push-ups.

10
Above all, do something for others.

In the isolation of your home, you can still do so many things, but beware of selfishness: Avoid thinking only of yourself and what you want.

I recommend that you set a daily goal to foster your concern for others: those in your home or people you can connect with by phone, video call, etc. It’s time to recover friendships, to talk to family members who are half forgotten … This will brighten your day and theirs.

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