As we emerge from the year of the pandemic, we are faced with the fact that we don’t remember how to act amidst large groups of people. We need to rethink socialization. Our 2020 habits of social distancing such as side-stepping people to avoid getting too close, and shielding us against the spread of the virus need to be abandoned for friendlier routines. We are so attuned to the loneliness of the pandemic, that we have to modify our brain pathways and signals in preparation to emerge from our isolated states. Basically, we have to relearn social interactions.
We are globally grieving the loss of companionship. I am grieving the loss of my husband which makes grief doubly hard. “The world is grieving,” has become the universal lingo with the loss of so many lives; the loss of relationships; the loss of jobs; and the loss of income. There are so many losses finding a path through becomes complex and burdensome.
Chronic seclusion causes us to feel sad and depressed. Isolation leads to negative thinking. We revert to bad habits and try to blunt the pain with alcohol or food-bingeing. According to the American Psychiatric Association, about 25% of us are drinking more booze. In another study a third of those questioned said they had more anxiety and depression during the lockdown. Chronic loneliness causes torpor and makes us want to hide under our covers in bed. 2020 was the antithesis of socialization. 2021 and 2022 bring the promise of reconnecting with loved ones and friends. We need socializing to soothe the loneliness of the pandemic. Human beings need socialization rather than hermit-like behavior of Greta Garbo who famously said: “I want to be alone!” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLGCHAO1u-M We need company to assuage our angst. Even walking with a friend can help.
Socialization after the pandemic doesn’t come naturally after so much time bypassing people to avoid contact. Touching and hugging have been proven to be natural anti-depressants. We are afraid to dip our toes in the water to check the temperature. We know that we must be vaccinated to venture further into the seas of tranquility again. Also, anxiety causes sleep deprivation. We need our sleep to function properly. Besides putting on the Covid 19 extra pounds, we are not exercising enough. The closing of gyms caused us to cook more and exercise less. And shall we discuss our teeth which we were so loathe to clean in the pandemic? Or our muscles which tensed up when we sat zooming for hours. One thing is for sure. I am never, ever wearing high heels again. I aspire to the new trend of sneakers with ball gowns!
Staying away from social media is actually a good start. People judging your abilities constantly, makes one feel depressed and crappy! We need to be able to see our friends and family in person. Knowing that we are all grieving universally, helps us to refocus and try reaching out to others for support. Grief is a tough enough journey for those who have lost loved ones in the pandemic because you can’t hug, and have the comfort of friends who will listen to your loss, without passing unnecessary judgements. The rituals of funerals allow those grieving a loss to cry and thus relieve some of the grief. But in the pandemic, we zoomed funerals and burials which was safer but harder to endure. What do we do in these times? We light a candle in remembrance; we tell stories of loved ones; and we lean into our grief in order to find a clear pathway toward restoring our spirit. The pandemic has also taught us the value of life. Tell loved ones how much they have helped. Tell friends and family you love them. Do not wait until it is too late.
We know we must suffer pain, but we also know that we can transform ourselves into more meaningful individuals if we lean into the pain. Pain teaches us respect. Pain teaches us to be kind and have empathy for others. Pain is part of life and hopefully by experiencing pain and loss, we will evolve into the people we treasure.
And if you would like to buy my book: https://www.amazon.com/Jokes-Over-You-Come-Back/dp/1981137866/
Laurie is the author of the new book The Joke’s Over You Can Come Back Now: How This Widow Plowed Through Grief and Survived. She can be contacted via her website: www.lauriegrad.com or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Laurie-Burrows-Grad-2060571070637592/ or Instagram https://www.instagram.com/lauriegrad/