Yikes. Covid numbers keep increasing and more people are dying. What a sobering thing to wake up to. Makes me worried what the future holds for us. What I do know is that the reality of a pandemic will be with us for some time to come meaning the way our lives our different now has become a new norm. For many that new norm has been a life of “virtual” everything.
Yesterday I had a virtual chat with a friend and former colleague. I was somewhat late for chat due to another appointment. When she asked me about the appointment, I said I had been golfing. She looked somewhat confused as she asked whether golf courses were still open. I went on to tell her I had actually golfed St Andrews, a golf course in Scotland. That just deepened her confusion. I had to explain that I had played virtual golf.
Since March, all my work has been done virtually. With the change in weather my favorite pastime now must be done virtually. Seeing our kids and grandkids is done virtually. With what is going on in my wife’s workplace, I suspect our relationship may go virtual. (Not saying anything more about that) This virtual everything is leaving me feeling virtually empty.
To a degree I am thankful for modern technology such as computers and wifi. Can you imagine living through a pandemic, with all the restrictions if we did not have that? I know, at times it is frustrating, but it does allow for a semblance of human connection.
But it does come with some challenges. When I chatted with my therapist about doing my work virtually, she related how therapists had to cut back on their patient load because meeting virtually was much harder on their own mental health. That gave me reason for pause. It made sense. It depletes our emotional gas tank.
In addition to that, confirmed by two conversations I had with others that deal with difficult situations, meeting virtually in our work from home, means we do not have the same ability to debrief after difficult conversations, something that has the ability to replenish our emotional gas tank.
I reflected on my work the day prior to that appointment. I dealt with two mediation files, both with some particular challenges. They both turned out rather well which, in the past, would have provided a certain satisfaction, a sense of accomplishment. Normally it would have energized me but not that day. Instead I switched off my computer, left my office, eyeing my bed on the way by, and plunked myself in front of the TV feeling “meh”.
So, the lesson is clear. We need to be aware of the effect this pandemic, this new virtual everything is having on our own mental health. We need to shift our expectations. And as we do that, we need to find new ways of filling our emotional gas tanks because we know that just the realities and unknowns of Covid, never mind all our other stressors, has the potential of draining those tanks real quick.
Connection is a core human need. So, in a world of virtually everything, we need to find different and unique ways to connect. Instead of shying away from making that phone call or Zoom get together, we have to increase our efforts to ensure connection. We need to be more intentional about staying healthy, both physically and mentally. For now, perhaps, a virtual hug would do it. Now I just have to figure out how to get a virtual haircut. Make it a good one.