Skip to Main Content

Making Meaning Out of a Crisis: What COVID-19 Has Taught Me.. Part One.

By: Jaclyn Rink, MSCP, LLP.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind for our world. There has been so much movement. We panicked a bit.. (ok, maybe a lot), we stocked up on Kraft Mac N’ Cheese, shut-down our schools, brought our work computers home, and paid $20.00 for a mini hand-sanitizer on Amazon. We ran around preparing for weeks, all to come to a sharp stop: A halt, a pause, a semi-colon in our lives. As we are all trying to figure out how to navigate this temporary normal, one of the most effective ways to help us manage a crisis is to try and make some type of meaning out of what’s happening. I’m not an “everything happens for a reason” type of gal, but I do believe you can (and should) make meaning out of any event that happens in your life.

As our practice continues to see patients via telehealth sessions throughout this challenging time, I hear a lot of commonalities from the community. Your perspective, feelings and actions have helped me to come to a place of my own personal meaning that I thought I would share with you in this two-part series, because.. well.. writing is one of my favorite things to do, and I’m quarantined.

We are all far too busy: “My vacation was the only thing I was looking forward to all year, and now it’s cancelled.” “What am I supposed to do with my time and to fill my kids time?”

I think it’s safe to assume that if you don’t know what to do in your free time, it’s likely because you aren’t used to having it. When was the last time we looked around and audibly mouthed, “I have nothing to do”? Having “nothing to do” makes a lot of us feel out of control, and social standards have associated it with laziness and guilt. Therefore, we often jam pack our calendars as a defense mechanism, or as a way of measuring our worth and value through productivity.

The catch is, when we have this free time, we can actually turn our focus to more important things: our family, our own self-care, our partners, enjoying the moment; a lot of small memories, and a lot of important feelings that we miss out on while we stay distracted by our busy schedule. I’m not saying you aren’t allowed to be frustrated about the fact that your vacation got cancelled (mine did, too), but if it was one of the only thing you were looking forward to, if it was your only opportunity to FINALLY take a break? Then goodness, you need more breaks and more joy on the daily.

The most important thing in life is human connection and experience: It’s one thing when we make the choice to be introverted, it’s another when we are forced to be. All of us are feeling the effects of being away from our loved ones right now. We are missing out on birthday parties, coffee meet-ups, date- nights; and although FaceTime and phone-calls are awesome stand-in’s, they aren’t quite cutting it. This is because we crave connection. When you really peel back the layers of the human experience, all we want is to feel loved, to be around those that love us, and to show other people that we love them (picking up on a theme, yet?)

Why is it that the moment we were quarantined everyone in the household suddenly had their own Zoom account? Why else would we be taking the time to make signs and peek in through our friend’s windows or leave homemade cookies on their front porch? It’s because we need each other, because we need connection. It is THEE most important aspect of our lives, and so very often, we allow things to get in the way of connecting; whether it be our busy schedules, our own insecurities, fears or biases.. bottom-line, we need each other, and we should seize more opportunities to tell and show others just how precious they are to us.

Pets are clearly the more superior species: We don’t deserve them, and wouldn’t-ya-know, they are immune to all of this. All they do is show up for us, every morning, with a happy smile (unless you have a temperamental cat) and love in their hearts, regardless. They forgive us when we don’t pay them enough attention, they enjoy the little things, they rest when they need to, they try their hardest to protect the people they love, they seek out connection and they are loyal and extremely patient. It seems as though we have a lot that we can learn from them. They’ve had it right all along. Clearly superior. Bonus for them, they are getting a lot more treats, attention, walks, and snuggles from their owners nowadays. We are fortunate to have them by our sides through all of this.

Part Two: Coming Soon.