The past year has felt like it was sucked into a vacuum. Many of us rub our eyes on Covid sleep with cautious optimism as vaccine rollout accelerates and Covid numbers decline nationally. The number of people has been profound on many levels and, despite the reasons for hope, there remain reasons of legitimate concern.
But the power of hope is not to be underestimated. It can increase our resilience (the ability to recover from difficult times) and help reduce anxiety, trauma, and depression. The pandemic has increased sharply in all three countries.
With signs that they may be getting out of this thing, or at least being more manageable, people look to the future and dream. They can now imagine doing the things they missed and getting back to life. I can reflect on this through 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, hope emerges that allows people to imagine what could be again.
I’ve been thinking about the things that I miss and look forward to. For me, some of these are live music, travel, indoor dinner parties, and hugs (all previous without fear, hesitation, or pause). I’ve also spent some time researching what others are looking forward to and I can thank my social media channels for providing a variety of wonderful comments on the topic.
When this is over …
When this is over, I will have a gigantic festival for all the people I miss.
“Go on vacation and don’t cook, clean, or wash for two bloody weeks.”
“I’m going to have lunch with my 200 closest friends in the middle of a mall – without washing our hands!”
Losing my debit card in a bar is so close I can try it.
“Enjoy working in the office again.”
“Give my girls and grandchildren the biggest hugs, play games, sing, read stories and laugh together.”
Touch my face a billion times in an hour.
If the pandemic has made hope feel erased but you want to learn to cultivate it, here are some things you can do.
- Spend more time with optimistic people.Emotions are literally contagious. Get to know those in your life who have a more positive attitude, especially when it comes to Covid.
- Be thankful.Gratitude helps us enjoy positive life experiences and deal with stress. One way to develop this practice is to notice the good around you every day, even something that appears as small as a beautiful tree from your bedroom window.
One thing the 1918 pandemic can remind us now is that the mental health effects have the potential to continue to be significant. For this reason, we, among many others, must be diligent in finding ways to counteract this. Hope, optimism, gratitude and the idea of the things you are looking forward to can not only help us now, but also support us on our way through this cause and “hopefully” … on the other side.