Isolation, quarantine, lockdown – call it what you will. As we emerge from a year of this situation, we can agree that many things will be different. We will be required to face new matters in new ways.
Our bodies will be a bit fuller after spending the year making the trips to the refrigerator or the pantry snack shelf our only form of exercise. Our skin will be dry and pale for lack of fresh air and sunshine. Our hair will be either unkempt or suffering from a less than professional cut. Our nails will show signs of growth without the benefit of regular manicures and pedicures. Our clothes will have closet wrinkles after being stowed away for so long and we will struggle to make them fit.
Folks we see for the first time in a year will have aged noticeably during this time. They may move a little slower. We may see sadness, stress lines, tired eyes and sagging skin.
First responders, health care workers, grocery clerks and essential service clerks and providers may have bruising and skin irritation from wearing masks consistently for eight to ten hours a day.
As we look further, we will see more than superficial physical changes. We will see mental health conditions that have been triggered or exacerbated. Fear, loss of income, loss of family members or friends and isolation take their toll as we struggle to adapt to new routines and social practices. Insomnia, anxiety and increased drug and alcohol use will be of vital concern.
We will see that surviving the virus does not necessarily mean recovery from the virus. Long-term complications and symptoms will affect the quality of a survivor’s life into a future we have yet to navigate.
We have also been presented with the opportunity to live, at least for this year, in a different way. We slowed down, got quiet and connected with family and friends differently. Virtual concerts, tours and educational opportunities have brightened our days. Senior citizens have overcome their technology challenges to become virtual grandparents and stay connected to their grandchildren.
Being confined to our homes, we developed copious to-do-lists, cleaned closets, reorganized our homes and constructed new backyard living spaces. We have binge-watched old TV programs and watched movies we enjoyed or missed the first time around. Families suddenly have more time to laugh and play together.
Concurrently, we are in a period of intense and increased social unrest, upheaval, adjustment, political divisiveness and cultural reckoning. In some cases, the events of the past twelve months have strained personal relationships and polarized communities. In other instances, new bonds and connections are being forged as we seek solutions.
As we emerge from our cocoons and seek to re-establish a sense of normalcy, let us actively embrace kindness. Though we are wearing our masks and remaining socially distant, let us smile with our eyes. Let us be gentle with one another as we seek and give affection, consideration and friendship. Acts of kindness benefit others and ourselves. Make someone’s day!
In the words of an African Proverb, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito.”