This past year has felt to like it’s been sucked up into a vacuum. Many of us are rubbing the Covid sleep out of our eyes with cautious optimism as vaccine rollouts accelerate and Covid numbers decline nationally. The human toll has been profound on many levels and despite reasons to be hopeful, reasons for legitimate concern remain.
But the power of hope is not to be underestimated. It can build our resilience (the ability to bounce back from tough times) as well as help reduce anxiety, trauma, and depression. The pandemic has seen a sharp rise in all three.
With signs of possibly getting out of this thing, or at least it being more manageable, people are looking ahead to the future and dreaming. They are now able to imagine doing the things they have missed, re-engaging in life. I can see this reflected via many media sources, in my individual and couples therapy practice as well as in my personal life with family and friends. After months of hiding out, hope is making an appearance allowing people to imagine what could be again.
I’ve been reflecting upon the things that I miss and look forward to. For me a few of them are live music, travel, dinner parties inside and hugs (all of the prior without fear, hesitation or pause). I also spent some time researching what others look forward to and I can thank my social media channels for providing a variety of wonderful commentary on this topic.
When This is Over…
When this is over I’m going to make a gigantic feast for all the people I miss.
“Go on holiday and not cook, clean or wash up for a whole two bloody weeks.”
“I am going to go and eat lunch in the middle of a mall with my 200 closest friends – without washing our hands!”
Losing my debit card in a bar is so close I can taste it.
“Enjoy going back to work in the office.”
“Give my girls and my grand children the biggest hugs, play, sing, read stories, and laugh together.”
Touch my face a billion times in one hour.
If hope feels snuffed out because of the pandemic but you would like to learn cultivate it, here are a few 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 begin to notice the good around you every day, even something as seemingly small as a beautiful tree out your bedroom window.
One thing the pandemic of 1918 can remind us now is that the mental health impact has the potential to continue to be significant. For this reason among many others we all need to remain diligent in our attention to finding ways to counteract this. Hope, optimism, gratitude and imagining the things you look forward to can not only help now but bolster us as we make our way through this thing and “hopefully”…out the other side.1