This past year has had the feeling of having been absorbed in the void. Many of us are wiping Covid’s sleep from our eyes with cautious optimism as vaccine launches accelerate and Covid numbers decline nationally. Human tolling has been deep on many levels and, despite the reasons for hope, remains a cause for legitimate concern.
But the power of hope should not be underestimated. It can increase our resilience (the ability to recover from difficult times), as well as help reduce anxiety, trauma, and depression. The pandemic has experienced a sharp rise in all three.
With signs of possibly getting out of this thing, or at least making it more manageable, people look to the future and dream. They are now able to imagine themselves doing things that have been lost, re-participating in life. I see it reflected through many media, in my practice of individual and couple therapy, as well as in my personal life with family and friends. After months of hiding, hope is emerging allowing people to imagine what it might be like again.
I’ve been reflecting on the things I miss and hope for. For me some of them are live music, travel, dinners indoors and hugs (all the previous without fear, hesitation or pause). I also spent some time researching what others expect and I can thank my social media channels for offering a variety of wonderful comments on this topic.
When this is over …
When this is over, I will have a gigantic party for all the people I miss.
“Going on vacation and not cooking, cleaning or washing for two whole weeks.”
“I’m going to have lunch in the middle of a mall with my 200 closest friends, without washing our hands!”
Losing my debit card at a bar is so close I can taste it.
“Enjoy working in the office again.”
“Leave the biggest hugs to my daughters and grandchildren, play, sing, read stories and laugh together.”
It touches my face a billion times in an hour.
If hope feels dull due to the pandemic, but you’d like to learn how to cultivate it, here are some things you can do.
- Spend more time with optimistic people. Emotions are literally contagious. Learn towards those in your life with a more positive outlook, especially when it comes to Covid.
- Be grateful. Gratitude helps us savor positive life experiences and cope with stress. One way to develop this practice is to start noticing how well it surrounds you every day, even something seemingly as small as a beautiful tree in your bedroom window.
One thing the 1918 pandemic may remind us of now is that the impact on mental health can continue to be significant. For this reason, among many others, we must remain diligent in our care to find ways to counteract this. Hope, optimism, gratitude and imagining the things you expect can not only help us now, but will strengthen us as we move forward on this thing and “hopefully” … get out of the other band.
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