It’s August and the uncertainty the pandemic has caused still remains five months later. I have been thinking a lot about the emotional toll COVID has reaped. As I speak to clients, I hear fatigue and a low-grade depression. In the same sentence where they acknowledge how lucky they are to have a job and that they have been spared of the virus, they also emanate a sense of despair. The questions that loom like a dark cloud are:
- When will life return to normal?
- When will our kids go back to school?
- Will things get worse before they get better?
I have two thoughts I want to share with you in the hopes that they will help you to manage your internal state when you cannot control your external circumstances.
- Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Most days since March I have been able to focus on all that is good in my life—our health and that I got a lot of extra time with my college-aged kids. But some days, I wake up and I feel sad for all the loss. I feel sad that I don’t get to travel to different cities to conduct Interviewer Training as I do each summer. I feel sad for all the small businesses that are losing money and jobs. I feel sad that our son won’t be able to start the next phase of his college experience at USC and will have to do “Zoom School” this fall. The idea of feeling all this sadness is actually scarier than feeling it. When I give myself permission to feel it, it begins to pass. When I don’t, it bottles up inside of me and permeates everything I do. I encourage you to feel to heal.
- Connect with others. This morning when I was listening to week 30 of my online Institute of Integrative Nutrition certification course, the speaker mentioned how loneliness can cause disease. I remember back in January when I was preparing my first Wisnik Well-Being program, I came across a study that said that the health effects of loneliness are equivalent to smoking two packs a day. I thought that sounded exaggerated, but as I watch people working alone from home, as well as missing celebrating birthdays with friends and in-person book clubs, I can see the toll feeling lonely takes on us. By the way, you don’t have to live alone to feel lonely.
For me, I feel quenched with connection when I speak to a friend or client with whom I feel comfortable being vulnerable. Last week I had a call with a Director of Communications and revealed how I was having a hard week. She was extremely empathetic and shared how she too has felt waves of uncomfortable emotions over the last few weeks. She also told me about a new contact she recently met over Zoom and how recharging it was to meet and learn from someone new. This reminded me to ask a contact if she could introduce me to a woman who has a very successful podcast so I could learn from her. If you too are missing human connection, I want you to reach out to two people this week and schedule a one-on-one phone or Zoom call. Think of people who make you feel better and allow yourself to be vulnerable. Our need for connection is what makes us human, and we can’t do this alone.