Our Feelings, Thoughts, & Actions During This Pandemic
Each marvelous, amazing woman who has managed to survive to be over 50 now finds herself in a very unexpected setting. That setting is the Pandemic. Who could have imagined even four months ago that we would be living through a medical crisis that is affecting the entire world at the same time? Who could have imagined that we would be told to quarantine at home for months on end?
Stories We Heard As Children
Most of us are old enough to remember some stories that we heard as children. Maybe a relative who died in the 1918 Spanish flu, or a neighbor’s family who had a quarantine sign on the front door because someone had a highly contagious disease, perhaps measles? I certainly remember there were summers where my mom worried about allowing me to go swimming, as there were polio cases in Bridgeport or Fairfield, Connecticut where I grew up.
And, I remember that when I was 10 I spend two weeks at the YMCA overnight camp. The last day I felt sick and achy and when my mom picked me up, I was clearly sick. I came home with a fever and stayed in bed a couple of days. Whatever I had passed but we later heard that the girl in the upper bunk where I was sleeping had come down with polio. Did I have a slight case? We will never know. And lastly, I remember that for many years when I would see a pile of children’s toys or games left for the garbage men, I would ask my mom why I couldn’t take something I saw that I wanted. She would always answer the same way, “No, someone might have been contagious in that house.”
A Difficult & Strange Time
I am sure you have your memories or at least know an older aunt or friend that remembers what it is like to have contagion going around.
Yet, I have to say, most of us are amazed that we, who have planned vacations without much concern (except for the expenses involved for years), taken planes, lived abroad, visited all ends of the earth, became pen-pals with fabulous people we’ve met on buses, trains, boats, planes, now are basically housebound… Particularly if we are over 60, and are not certain as to when our next trip will take place.
Most of us are in some degree of shock. This is a difficult and strange time. I’m a positive psychologist. That means I give hope and encouragement but also, as a psychologist I’m a realist. I give you hope and encouragement but at the same time, I present reality to you.
The Reality of This Pandemic
The reality is that this Pandemic stresses us in mind and body. Mentally most of us experience some degree of anxiety. This may display itself in ruminating, having trouble getting going, boredom, sadness, frustration, trouble sleeping, and other ways. Our bodies get stressed also. Our routines are interrupted. The gym is closed, we sit around a lot, many cannot travel to see friends or relatives. Places that created comfort and some degree of exercise may be closed, such as public libraries or a favorite clothing store or a favorite restaurant. The list is endless, so I will not belabor it.
I really miss going to the library, shopping, and grandkids, looking forward to dinner out, and the expectation of a vacation, whether it be a big one abroad or just staying overnight a couple of hours away to see friends or go to a show. Our daily lives have been turned upside down. One last critical factor. Many of us are lonely. Many grandparents have not seen their grandkids. Some of us live in apartments by ourselves and do not have anyone to even hug. Some of us have had the terrors of dealing with a loved one getting the virus or have been sick themselves.
How do these facts allow us to look at the glass half-full, rather than half-empty?
Looking at The World Sunny-Side Up
Here are some of the ways we can look at the world and live within it, sunny-side up:
1. It is comforting and reality to realize that we are not alone. All of us are experiencing in one way or another the discomforts of a pandemic. Talking with others on the phone, or the computer or outside at a reasonable distance can be very reassuring and uplifting. I assure you that most of us have had sleepless nights or had days where we could not get going beyond the couch, felt alone, missed a loved one, etc.
2. We are not alone at the medical level either. Thousands of people, maybe hundreds of thousands of people around the world are working on solutions to end the pandemic. Some focus on a vaccine, some focus on cures for those who get the virus, and some are making discoveries that will lead us to better health and longevity. Discoveries that we can’t even imagine.
3. We now have more advantages than humans in the past when a pandemic emerged. Let’s take advantage of those advantages: phones, computers, medicines, food deliveries, ways to order everything we need online, ways to connect in groups via platforms like Skype or Zoom that allow us to meet in groups to chat, exercise, sing, etc.
Taking Care of Our Health
4. We can still take care of our own medical care during this time. Doctors are willing and able to do telemedicine and often that is enough. If not, hospitals and doctors are eager to treat us and have developed sterile environments that make it safe to take care of our own bodies during this time.
5. Mental health providers also are doing telemedicine. I, as a practicing psychologist in New Jersey, ‘see’ my clients on the telephone.
6. We are basically resilient at human beings. We continually adapt and readapt to the situations we face. What looks gloomy and challenging at night or in the middle of the night, can often turn into something we can do and face successfully in the morning light.
7. You’ve made it to over 50. You are wise, you’ve been challenged, you’ve survived. Give yourself a mental pat on the back and remember that no one has had exactly the talents, strengths, and potential that you have, ever, over thousands of years. You are unique and amazing.
Enjoy the Here & Now
Now go out into the world, virtually or out your front door and share your talents and strengths. Make that phone call, send that note, start to learn something new, put on some makeup, try something different in your daily routine. Darling, reach beyond the narrow confines that our minds can put us in, and watch the miracles begin to happen!
How have you been handling the Pandemic? Let us know in the comments at the bottom of this page.
Sometimes friends and colleagues call me, Dr. Barbara Becker Holstein: ‘The Enchanted Self.’ That’s because as a psychologist in private practice for over 35 years, I’ve developed a form of positive psychology called The Enchanted Self. I’m not enchanted, but I do have many ways and ideas to help all of us feel better through all stages of life. These methods help us to recognize our potential, regardless of our age, to grab on to our talents and find again and again the emotional energies needed to be creative, resourceful, resilient, and to live joyfully.
In two minutes share with the ‘girl’ from my books, The Truth, Diary of a gutsy Tween and Secrets, Diary of a Gutsy Teen, and my films, the ‘girl’ who has no name, as she is all of us. Share with her as she goes from despair to elation as we most, not only in today’s pandemic but as we travel through life. Enjoy seeing the joy she finds loving and connecting once more and bring it home to your and your grand-kids. Watch the film at: https://vimeo.com/
If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe. Each daily story will be delivered straight to your inbox.