My initial concern, as a counselor, with social distancing in this time of COVID-19 was the increased potential for social isolation.
I worry about the elderly, the children in abusive or unsafe homes, the victims of partner violence, the ones living alone, the ones sick or afraid.
One of my first remote sessions caused me to think a bit differently about our situation.
What if, social distancing allows for a moment of respite not only from the judgment of others, but also from self-expectations? What if, in sheltering in place, we allow ourselves the grace of non-productivity grounded in social caring?
For one client, anxiety and anger melted away over the past week of interrupted activity. No issues to report. Nothing to discuss. Just ease sitting on the couch and watching television.
How powerful is simply pausing and distancing.
Thinking of this self-imposed quarantine as a vacation instead of social rejection, isolation or imprisonment may help explain my client’s sense of ease.
Of course, many cannot afford times without work, travel, social interaction. With social distancing, how can we get food and shelter to those who need it? How will small businesses survive? How can people working hourly shifts, work? How can children learn and grow? How long can we distance for the sake of collective health? Can we continue this sense of solidarity from a distance when we are able to approach each other again?
Alongside these broad social questions, maybe an important spiritual lesson to slow down is being taught to us. Our lives depend on it. Maybe beyond threats of COVID-19.
How are you experiencing social distancing?
Is it a relief? a suffering? a break? a welcomed pause? an uncomfortable uncertainty? are you worried about your parents, family who may seem further away and more vulnerable? Are you playing more games with your kids? Eating more meals together?
Are you distancing the events on your calendar, softening expectations, shortening to-do lists? Are you able to hear yourself better as other move away? Are the voices that rumble “you are not doing enough” distancing too? Do you find yourself weirdly at ease?
Wishing you health and self-aware ease,