When I was asked me to write this article about the impact of Covid19 on our lives, from a counsellor’s perspective, I wasn’t sure what to write. Everyone one of us will have their own perspective and understanding of what it means to them. I’m no definitive expert on what we “ought” to do or how we “should” be feeling, but I am wondering what is the right balance between maintaining our psychological well-being and keeping ourselves physically safe from spreading or catching the virus.
Covid19 seems to dominate everything and the news and social media are bringing out the best and worst in us. There seems to be a loss of balance and equilibrium in life at the moment. Many cannot work and have their livelihoods threatened, and many others will be really missing the contact and social interaction they value with friends and family. We are told to stay at home to save lives and yet this forces some people to live with increased levels of isolation and anxiety about their day-to-day existence and the problems they may face in the future. In my opinion, it’s really not as simple as the “Stay Home, Save Lives” public health message.
Social distancing comes with its own risks. Humans are social animals. We’re hardwired for connection. Isolation and loneliness can exacerbate anxiety and depression, and even impact our physical health. That’s why it’s important to stay connected as best we can and reach out for support when we need it, even as we have to cut back our face-to-face contact.
Yes, of course, we should follow Government guidelines and restrictions. Yes, we should take personal responsibility. Yes, we should support and be grateful for health care staff and our keyworkers. However, I think we can also acknowledge and understand that this is going to really hard for people who find these current changes and future uncertainties almost unbearable. Let’s not rush to criticise, blame or scapegoat those who are just trying their hardest to get by the best they can.
The recent community networks of volunteers and offers to help could herald a different and better understanding of how we live together and offer friendship to each other. Equally, the current rants and vigilante style shaming we are seeing now will leave damage to neighbourly relationships when we need to rebuild strong communities.
When this is over, and it will end, some people will go back to lives relatively unchanged by this period, whereas others will find themselves bereaved, unemployed, in debt, or facing huge uncertainties about their futures. This is when our support and care for each other in our communities will be critical.