Food for Thought

COVID-19 has turned our world upside down in countless ways, not the least of which is our social world. In the pre-COVID era, we had relationships with family and friends characterized by time spent in person, hugs, and handshakes, cuddling with our grandkids, and sharing time at outdoor concerts, restaurants, potluck dinners, movie theaters, and museums. Long-distance relationships were also part of our world, and video and phone contact was definitely part of those relationships, but we also had the option of visiting our friends, staying at their houses without anxiety, driving without concerns for out-of-state travel restrictions and flying without fear of catching a potentially life-threatening disease. Boy, have things changed!

Under the current conditions of the pandemic, escalating case numbers, thousands of deaths, and fear of contagion, everything social has changed in our world. These changes are affecting both our individual lives and our family relationships as well as our communities. Most of us are experiencing separation from loved ones and friends that we normally socialize with and unprecedented amounts of social isolation. We are experiencing varying degrees of fear and anxiety and having to deal with our friend’s and family’s fear and anxiety as well.

Living alone, as many older women do, compounds the difficulties of isolation and touch-deprivation. As we know, social support, time spent with friends, hugs, affection, and massages are some of the types of connections that are incredibly important to our mental health, happiness, and sense of well-being. The longer-term effects of these stressors can lead to depression, loneliness, increased anxiety, and feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Yet some of us find ways to cope that lessen these negative outcomes and may even produce different types of personal enrichment.

Questions to Consider:
1) How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your personal and social world?
2) What degree of fear and caution do you experience and is this changing as the pandemic wears on?
3) How are you coping with the stress and deprivation of having more limited and anxiety-tainted connections with others?
4) Share any constructive, nurturing ways you have found to cope with the isolation.
5) How do you reach out to others who may be having a more difficult time than you?
All rights reserved © 2020 Beth Firestein, Ph.D. Wise Women Group