Life · Nursing

the silver linings of social distancing

So we’re all pretty “COVID”ed out right now.. it has been, what four weeks now of this thing and the novelty of social distancing has worn off. Even people like me who really enjoy being a bit of a hermit and having their space are feeling pretty weird about it.

For me, I will admit a lot has not felt super different for me. Other than I have been able to focus some more time and energy on one or two specific things rather than dividing myself into the usual million pieces to fulfill all my commitments on my plate. I am still going to work almost each day so it doesn’t feel weird. The one way I would say things are a bit different is that man am I appreciating any of my few days off. I’m sure I am just emotionally tapped out with everything- everyone is a bit on edge, and interactions are just that much harder for all of us these days.

I guess the optimist in me hopes that despite all of the horrible things that have happened during all of COVID, there may still be some sort of silver lining we can take from it. Hopefully as a society, it has taught us a few things about what is really important, readjusted some of our priorities and reminded us to be genuinely kind and caring about one another, and instead of going through the motions in our busy lives, being able to appreciate the small moments that we often take for granted.

I see this going one of two ways…

I think this will revolutionize a lot of things- many things we said we “couldn’t” do before we have had to make work one way or another- virtual doctor and health consults, connecting via technology. In some ways this will benefit us- we can learn from our mistakes of how unprepared we were to deal with a pandemic of this nature, how disconnected in so many ways our health system is, and make some sustainable change.

Maybe having gone through this few month period where none of us can get our nails, hair, lashes, brows or anything else done we’ll be a little less vain and self conscious about how we look and focus more on our interactions with others. Maybe we will be so starved of human interaction and connection that those things will be at the forefront of what we value most and how we go about our day to day lives- in how we treat others, relationships, and what we hold most dear. We could be totally changed by this experience and will tell our kids one day about how this terrible pandemic was able to change the world for good and made us kinder, wiser, and more grateful.

I hope that this pandemic causes us to be that. I hope we remember as we ease back into our normal ways of life after all this that we continue to support small businesses, have empathy for the humanity of others who are facing things we couldn’t imagine, build each other up, treat people with kindness (still my 2020 mottos!). I hope we remember that things are not black and white and are often more complicated than they seem- for example, that many of us currently feel grateful to still have jobs but are terrified to be going to them each day for the fact that they compromise our safety.

@mrdavehollis

Or, we could continue to be totally (dis)connected by social media, online and technology.

Think about it- 20 years ago, none of this would have been possible. Now we spend so much of our time when we are physically beside others on our screens more focused and caring more about what is happening virtually. Will this whole thing just perpetuate our fascination and the influence of technology and social media on our lives? It is pretty weird to me that some kids have never known a life without screens (and I guess I am the last kind of generation to probably feel that way), but for them, is this really that different? I don’t know.

For some people this may have been an opportunity to reset a little bit, take some time for them. And for others, it is extremely anxiety provoking with all of the unknowns as they struggle to make it through to the other side. And that is okay. We don’t have to all deal with it in the same way. Be kind and have patience with others as we all make it through this in our own ways. And be kind with yourself as sometimes we underestimate how much of a toll these things take on ourselves. It can be truly tiring to give others the benefit of the doubt when there is utter chaos (especially when it may seem could be prevented or controlled) around us.

@elephantjournal

For some people like myself, this has been a forced full stop on almost everything going on and an opportunity to re- evaluate where I am putting my energies and what commitments are really important to me. Between teaching, working full time and being in grad school, as well as the many other volunteer commitments and involvements I’ve had, it’s been busy. You could say that there have been times where I’ve been running on an empty tank (another post topic to come) . And I’ve felt that a few times over the past few years. And you also might be feeling right now that this is a true test of your will and endurance as many aspects of our lives are put on hold, our patience is tested, and we haven’t even hit the sprint part of this marathon yet. (Man who knew pandemics could be so exhausting???)

@nursesonja

But also, this has given me a lot of perspective- to realize what in the long run is the most important for me to focus on, and a reminder that you have to look out for yourself and your health because nobody else will make you their number one. In a way, it has given me some perspective on maybe some of my life goals and what I want out of my life as well that I hadn’t considered before. It’s taught me a lot about having to make what are uncomfortable decisions for me about putting myself first when that seems so unnatural. I am so used to putting everyone else before me that it is just in my nature now.

But taking time for me- to focus on that 30 minute workout for the day, to make a meal I enjoy eating, to getting my life “organized” so I feel so much less scattered- those underrated little things are things that bring me a lot of joy. Telling myself it is okay to sit on the couch for 20 minutes mindlessly not doing anything to decompress after a long shift even if it wasn’t “crazy”, but just because I am emotionally exhausted, or dragging my ass out of bed to get up and write a post while I have my morning coffee before work. Taking advantage of opportunities despite judgment by others of those decisions- those are the things that matter. Repeating to myself about a million times a day that it is okay if I take the time do something for me despite the rest of the world and everyone elses’ lives maybe being in shambles. Those are the life lessons that I have to believe are what I can take away from this experience (so far anyways). I can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel yet so I am holding on to those things.

But taking time for me- to focus on that 30 minute workout for the day, to make a meal I enjoy eating, to getting my life “organized” so I feel so much less scattered- those underrated little things are things that bring me a lot of joy. Telling myself it is okay to sit on the couch for 20 minutes mindlessly not doing anything to decompress after a long shift even if it wasn’t “crazy”, but just because I am emotionally exhausted, or dragging my ass out of bed to get up and write a post while I have my morning coffee before work. Taking advantage of opportunities despite judgment by others of those decisions- those are the things that matter. Repeating to myself about a million times a day that it is okay if I take the time do something for me despite the rest of the world and everyone elses’ lives maybe being in shambles. Those are the life lessons that I have to believe are what I can take away from this experience (so far anyways). I can’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel yet so I am holding on to those things. Rachel Hollis who is honestly GOALS and I’m a little obsessed with has a great new show out and this week did a segment on finding the small things each day that make you happy and how that contributes to our overall happiness. I vibe with this on SO many levels

I’ve shifted my mind and attitude a lot this year to be more positive and intentional in everything that I do, and I figure despite the unplanned, that should stay constant. (what better time to challenge yourself then a life uprooting pandemic right?). Nobody knows what is to come, and this whole thing has brought a lot of gloom and doom along with it, but just maybe the sun is peeking out behind those clouds somewhere. So til then- I’ll be here trying to focus on some of those small positives each day .

Wishing your days to come are filled with lots of little good moments.

– C

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