While it appears many folks are willing to talk about COVID-19 with authority, the experts in the field say we still don’t know a lot about it. We are encouraged to put space between ourselves and others. I’ve never actually been quarantined, either self induced or by orders from someone else, with the exception of things like Chicken Pox and Measles when I was a kid. That seems quite a bit different from what is going on now. This appears to be more serious.
Restricting our comings and goings, abstaining from the hugs and “holy kisses” we ordinarily share with those we greet all seems so strange! Yet, it appears to be prudent. We do need to take precautions to avoid getting sick ourselves or potentially passing on sickness to others. There’s no doubt of that.
As a mom and a therapist, I worry a bit about my family (we hug) and my clients (whether they hug, or not). What do we do to make up for our lack of contact with others? So many of us are self-quarantined, or quarantined because we are told to work from home, or our places of employment have simply closed for a while. Whether we are friendly with our coworkers or not, or the bus driver, or daycare workers or our local Starbucks’ barista, they serve a purpose in our lives. They provide social interaction and stimulation for us.
I am a dedicated problem solver. I think it’s time to fire up that creative side of our brains and make the best of the current situations in which we find ourselves. What about contacting old friends by phone? It’s a bit old fashioned, maybe it will become retro, and be cool again! Or sending those long over due emails to people who have moved away? Not having a commute will give us extra time in our days. We can’t clean ALL the time!
How about a virtual tea party? You could order boxes of tea and packages of cookies from Amazon and have them sent to friends with instructions on how to meet virtually (maybe on Skype?) and when. You can enjoy some tea, cookies and conversation together. Later in the day, perhaps a virtual cocktail party?
If you are in the mood for a cookout, why not send out an email to a whole bunch of friends that all know each other, suggesting they grill their favorite foods on Saturday between four and seven o’clock? During that time, everyone can send descriptions and pictures of their cuisine and comment on others’ using the same email. If you’re into competition, there could be a vote on the best presentation or something like that. The idea is to make connections – simple. I find when food is involved, others generally want to participate!
These are just a few ideas to keep you out there socially while staying in there to be safe and healthy. There are as many ideas as you can think of – just remember to reach out. That’s the important thing.
This is a time where some of us may experience feelings of isolation, loneliness, depression and anxiety. This can happen to anyone, especially with health issues topping the news everyday and pretty much encouraging the fear of engagement with others. We need to be creative. Use help lines, phone a friend, host a virtual party!
Keep the faith, this is all temporary. It won’t last. We can do our best to not have it influence our mental health in a negative way. If you feel as though you are sliding downward emotionally, be sure to contact a mental health provider in your area right away. If you are near Tinley Park, Illinois, feel free to contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates. We would be honored to be of assistance. Call us at 708-633-8000.
Stay healthy, stay engaged,
Louella DeVries, MA, LCPC
President, Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc.