By Shonda Dudlicek
As the world shut down during the pandemic, we learned to slow down.
Yes, there are a number of negatives that quarantines brought, but there are lots of positives that unfolded, too.
Dr. Brian R. Humphrey, a licensed clinical psychologist in private practice and a health psychologist with the Cook County Health and Hospitals System in Chicago, walks us through some of them:
How innovative the world is. “We have a shared enemy, the virus.” He shares his own personal experience: His daughter turned 13 during the shutdown, which meant that for the first time, the family would be unable to travel. So they hosted a Zoom call with more people spending time together. “We played games, everyone had cake slices, and we cut the cake,” he said.
People are transforming their homes into vacation spots because they can’t leave the house. Humphrey wasn’t able to take his wife away for their anniversary as usual, so he transformed his home office into a dining area with music, candles and a slide show of photos of past trips.
“We find a way around the clear obstacles. We are able to come up with ways for social intimacy and physical distancing,” he said.
Also, there’s been a rise in creativity with scores of people making masks.
Making an effort to connect with others. “More people text, email and have phone calls. And even more old-school, we’re all sitting down for dinner together. We’re connecting with loved ones through phone calls and letters. It’s an intentionality to communicate.”
Being centered on the here and now. Humphrey said we’re more focused on the environmental, like gardening, and our surroundings. “There’s been a decline in traffic, fewer car accidents and a decline in crime,” he said.
Transformation in how we deliver service. He said we’ve become more engaged in health care. “There is a huge difference in portable services,” Humphrey said. “We’ve moved to a telehealth format. Lots of insurance plans are covering that and waiving fees. Most people prefer in person but we have to limit the number of people congregating. It seems a little odd at first – how can you take care of physical health needs? But it shows there are other ways to deliver service. Not just brick and mortar. Telehealth, videoconferencing, those are here to stay.”
“The new normal will have a hybrid approach,” Humphrey said.
This can also extend to religious practices. “In more of the ritualistic religions like Christian and Buddhist, we’re seeing actual practices morph into a way to preserve them, like in delivering the Eucharist with wine or bread, or universal prayer. There are a lot of virtual ministries, and with people having to pray more, this is not limited to one place, piece or mode.”
Will these new ways of thinking, doing business and connecting stick?
“I hope so,” Humphrey said. “Everything has caused more of a shift.”
Which leads to perhaps the most positive side effect of the pandemic …
Gratitude and appreciation. “There is value in being around loved ones. It’s having an appreciation for what you do have,” he said.
Humphrey points to recent toilet paper shortages. “You don’t appreciate, notice or you take it for granted until you realize, ‘Wow, not everyone has this.” That newfound appreciation led to people not being wasteful, not grabbing handfuls of paper towels, he said.
“This has taught us to appreciate differences and nuances and what makes us people. We’re all connected and have a real need to belong and relate. There is a real gratitude and sharing in that gratitude and togetherness.”