What Have We Gained?

What Have We Gained?

Dr. Natalie Gelman

I have written a couple of articles about the emotional effects of the Pandemic. Anxiety has increased by 673% and depression by 898% according to medical studies. It is believed that all of us have some degree of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). How this will play out at the end, we do not know. This is a new experience.

But, it is important to consider some of the things we have learned or experienced during these months that are beneficial.

We have learned to respect ourselves and others. We wear a mask. We maintain distance from others. We went through a time of washing our hands, wearing gloves, and avoiding touching items for a period of time. And then we learned that touching was an insignificant carrier of the virus. We stayed home and worked virtually. We closed our businesses. We avoided friends and family. We stopped going shopping. The gyms closed. We stopped going to school in person. We helped our children with school. We cooked our meals.

We learned priorities. We made lists before we went shopping. We stocked what we needed. We scheduled our days around the whole family’s needs. We had to schedule our work day meetings around our children and the availability of the other parent, if there was one. If there was not one, we had to make many accommodations to keep our jobs and be accessible to the children.

We learned ways to distract ourselves from home and work and school. We took walks, we took car rides, we watched television, we used iPads. We learned when someone walked their dog. We learned to noticed someone else on the sidewalk and to step into the street to avoid close contact. We discovered more about our neighborhood.

We made contacts with people. We texted, we called, we Zoomed, we Facetimed, we What’s Apped. In many cases we reconnected with people we do not talk with often, and, in some cases, years. We discovered a value in talking, in sharing our lives and emotions with people. We were not at work or school, but we discovered the value of relating to people.

We learned that we need less to survive. Not eating in a restaurant was not a catastrophe. We stopped wearing make-up. We learned that joggers were fine for pants. We learned how much toilet paper we truly need. We learned how much we value time to ourselves when no one is around. We learned how adaptive our children can be. We learned patience.

We learned we can survive a far less than ideal situation. We became appreciative of what we do have. We learned to value making choices to be healthy. And, hopefully, we learned that we can move forward without celebrating the holidays as we always have. And we can survive without vacations.

Let us move forward with optimism.

Dr. Natalie Gelman is an Alameda-based therapist. Submit questions to drnataliegelman@gmail.com or through her website, www.drnataliegelman.com.