Story by Alycia Burant of Healthy Minds Therapy By nature, humans thrive on connection. Over the last year and a half or so, many people relearned how to connect in different ways. The pandemic illuminated areas in our lives where we crave attention as well as areas in our lives where we put too much unnecessary emphasis. As a society, many of us were forced to slow down and take a magnifying glass to our priorities and examine what really mattered. There were many horrific losses and changes during the pandemic that we cannot get back. However, there were also many changes that came with open arms and gave us permission to relax a bit. As we continue to transition into our community again, I invite you to bring along some of your newfound experiences and appreciations with you. Please remember how much you loved eating every meal together with your loved ones. Pre-pandemic, maybe it was a treat or a rare occasion that you and your partner or you and your family ate a meal together at the family table. When the pandemic came, family meals became a regular, everyday occurrence for many people. Remember how much you cherished this time; the laughs you shared; the intimate emotions you exchanged; and the way you appreciated the food you had and the people who got it to you safely. Carry that gratitude with you as your meals may become less frequent together or as you eat out at local restaurants. Please remember how good it felt to slow down.
This one is huge. Let’s say that again. Remember how GOOD it felt to SLOW DOWN. For the first time, society normalized and accepted slowing down. It was okay to stay in your loungewear and not brush your hair. It was okay if you didn’t pick up your kids’ toys for days. It was okay if you didn’t get all the laundry done or all the mail sorted. And hey, guess what? It STILL IS OKAY! You get to decide what is okay, not society. Listen to your body and your needs. Give yourself permission to do things at your own pace. Please remember how good it felt to see your friends’ faces and not just a simple text on a screen. Something changed in the way we communicated when the pandemic happened. We used our phones differently than before. We always had the ability to phone or video-chat our friends and family, but it was not as common or convenient to do so. People typically resorted to text messaging loved ones, losing the real human experience of hearing their voices and seeing their faces. When the pandemic happened, many of us turned to video-chatting more often. This ignited a spark in us, embracing this technology in a way we never had before. We craved those face-to-face phone calls and lit up to see our grandparents and parents on the other side. It became the next best thing to being able to be in the same physical presence with our loved ones. For those times where you are still not able to connect in person with your friends or family, but feel pressed for time, don’t send the disconnected text. I encourage you to take a few minutes to make the call and enjoy the sweet sound of your grandmother’s voice or your best friend’s laughter. Please remember how connected you felt with your family.
Pre-pandemic, many of us fell victim to the rush of our days. Get here, do this, go there. It was rush, rush, rush. When the lockdown happened, many people started to embrace the quiet, still, soft moments with family. We noticed a lull in our day that perhaps we never did before. We developed a deeper connection with our immediate family - a more intimate connection with those we were already living with but had not quite taken the time to get to know in the way we did during quarantine. Many people started to show more compassion for one another. We understood each other’s nuances a bit more. And yes, these same habits and behaviors are the same ones that became bothersome as the pandemic stretched on, but still, they connected us on levels we can now appreciate. As you start to embrace connections with those outside your immediate family, remember how good it felt to be connected to your family. As you drift further away from your comfort zone, don’t forget how good it feels at your home base. Please remember how you let the rules relax a bit with your kids and enjoyed a few more sugary treats.
If you are a parent or caregiver, the pandemic showed you, you can loosen your grip on some longstanding rules and your kids will still survive. Life became so much more than getting to bed on time or eating vegetables at dinner. Suddenly bedtime didn’t have so much meaning. It was okay if the kids stayed up a “little bit longer.” It was okay if the kids had a few “extra treats” throughout the day. Who cared, right? You were just trying to survive the day again for the 135th day in a row inside! Did anyone suffer? Did anyone stop growing or turn green? I imagine there were a few more giggles in your house, too. When the caregivers are relaxed, so are the kids! Remember how good it felt to be in a less tense household and indulge a little bit in scary times. Please remember the care you had for your neighbors. During our busy lives and the pre-pandemic hustle, many people were lucky to get a wave or “hello” from the neighbors. It was a rare occasion to engage in conversation or to ask how each other were doing. During quarantine, we saw a shift in our neighborhoods and interactions among community members. This isn’t something new and America is pretty good at this. When given a difficult and challenging situation, Americans show up. This was the same for COVID-19. Even though we were isolated in our own homes, we still looked out for one another, particularly our elderly and single neighbors. We made sure they had all the food and toilet paper they needed. We made cards and dropped them on their front steps. We did distant drive-byes to say hello and check on them. Don’t forget how good this felt for them and you. As things continue to open, don’t forget those who are still taking their time and do not have a support system or who may have lost family during the pandemic. Continue to connect and check-in. Please remember how good it feels to help others. Please remember how creative you were.
The lockdowns sparked inspiration in so many of us. Many people were suddenly bakers, artists, crafters, and painters. Everyone’s artistic and creative side seemed to make an appearance and helped maintain sanity during an unpredictable time. People were willing to push themselves, try new things, and go outside their comfort zone with physical activity. Please remember how activating this was. Remember how uplifting this was. As you go back into the world, don’t lose that childlike spirit. Keep trying new things, be vulnerable, and go outside of your comfort zone. When you start to feel overwhelmed by life and all it brings, please remember, you are a superhero. You survived a pandemic. Meet Alycia
Alycia is a Licensed Professional Counselor with over 12 years’ experience providing direct patient care to adults, adolescents, children, and families. She is also your average every-day girl who has dealt with her own array of challenges. By changing her thoughts and developing positive, healthy coping skills, she creates a positive healthy mind, body, and soul. Alycia is an experienced independent business owner with a demonstrated history of working in the mental health care industry. She is an experienced entrepreneur with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Virginia Tech, a Master of Arts in Community Counseling from American Psychological Association accredited Argosy University School of Professional Psychology, and completed her Post-Master’s Certification in School Counseling at the University of South Florida. Alycia is also an approved Board-Certified Clinical Supervisor.