The COVID-19 virus activated our stress responses and sent our nervous system into overdrive, then we had to carry all the other events that followed. The pandemic and social isolation has disrupted our mind-body connection. You might be in a state of freeze—we’re just over a year after the pandemic began, but our nervous system has been assaulted and our thinking brain has not quite told us that the threat has been absolved.
Job losses, business closings, school lockdowns, virtual classrooms, Zoom meetings. No amount of sophisticated technology, as smart, as creative and as innovative as we are in terms of technology, has shown, for most of us, any sense of “connection” during this pandemic. It was insufficient and shows that, as much as technology advances, it does not take away the human condition and search for meaning.
Our systems know love and belonging—the thing that was taken away from the pandemic. Our systems know closeness, as in a simple hug, and not being able to do these things when people are hurting is grief and loss.
Viktor Frankl has been alleged to have said, about freedom, that, “Between stimulus and our response, there is a space. And in that space lies our power to choose. And in our choice lies our growth and our freedom.” It is a beautiful encapsulation of self-awareness and that pause or balance state.
I think some of the “self-care” solutions that are out there can sound quite trivial. But every so often, with curiosity, compassion (for self and others), awareness, smelling the wind, taking a deep breath of summer air and acknowledging the blessings of life, I catch myself making a very intentional choice to turn inwards. Closer toward my values, closer toward what is really meaningful to me. While realizing that, four times out of five times, I will most likely forget all of this when times get tense.
Our bodies are doing their best to take care of us, and we probably have more power than we realize. Tap into those self-actualizing powers and help yourself by being compassionate to oneself and others.
Margaret Wachholz is the campus marketing director at Woodbury Senior Living. In her column, she shares observations and wisdom about aging and senior living in our community. woodburyseniorliving.com