If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
Yet if I am for myself alone, of what good am I?
I woke with a start from a deep sleep in a slight panic with a knot burrowing in my stomach, a crippling worry that something was wrong but what?
My eyes popped open starring out into the dark, wide eyed, pondering and questioning what was disturbing my slumber. And then the COVID-19 came to mind—our new norm.
Not so long ago I wrote a blog on connecting to disconnect—how we’ve learned to connect through computers. When writing this blog I questioned if we were losing the ability to connect in person. But now I”m thinking different. Perhaps it’s been part of the GREATER plan all along.
Maybe we were in training—a preparation so to speak—for now as we “socially disconnect”, in real-time in the physical form, we’ve moved our real-time to connect through our computers and phones with emails, texting, etc…
Many are calling and texting, Facebooking and Facetiming with family they’ve not connected with in years. When in crisis, people tend to reach out. Every hurricane I’ve been through, over the last 33 years, proves no different. Always, without fail, family members from far away and friends I’d not heard from call to connect as the crisis unfolds.
It’s human nature that’s why. Humans need humans. Though some of us are introverts while other are extroverts, at some point, we all need that human contact…that knowing that someone out there is thinking about us, concerned if we are okay.
As I was writing this blog this past weekend I was sitting on my swing looking out at the water and soon a boat pulled up across the way playing the most beautiful rendition of Happy Birthday I’d ever heard. The two people in the boat were serenading an elder man on his dock with his lovely wife by his side. All the people from all the houses got out on the dock and wished him a happy 90th birthday all aware of the social distancing rule. It felt a bit like Italy singing from their balconies…a lovely gesture indeed. Another connecting of the disconnect…or perhaps a disconnect to connect.
My blog on Disconnecting to Connect suggested we are social distancing more and more even dating through the screen, but what if that was part of this greater plan—a God preparation. What if this thing was out there ready to strike and unbeknownst to us we were connecting long in advance from our devices.
I’m hearing more God talk and death talk these days than I’ve heard in a long time. Alone time through isolation allows for more thinking time. Many patients report more self-reflecting and worries of time coming to a close sooner than planned. Obsessively they’re glued to the news hoping to learn something to ease their fret yet creating more fear of doom and death.
For me it’s been a strange—really strange three weeks at work in an office where it’s usually bustling with patients in the waiting room, doctors and therapists, receptionists, massage therapist, and other renters, but now they are non-existing.
I’m alone—just me and my ipad screen looking and talking to a patient from their home rather than the couch opposite of my chair.
You see I’m conducting 90% of my patient time through the computer via a video connect. Some are so lonely for human connection and missing their social life yearning for friends and family. Others, my introvert patients, let me in on a secret—that it’s not so bad, this isolation stuff, as they’re use to it. They say it’s pretty much like life as they knew it yet something tugs at them that’s feeling not so familiar.
I pondered over that for a moment. Many of my patients do isolate and are not so social but the difference is now it’s forced on them and it becomes uncomfortable with the television blaring the doom and gloom for all—when before it was a doom and gloom fabricated in their mind with their personal concerns.
But now, even for the introvert, there is more connecting now than ever before, a reconnecting through calls to long lost friends are being made during our ‘shut-in” time. And Facebook is turning into a Godsend for many—a platform inviting great suggestions and hope.
One Facebook post that imprinted in my mind, passed around from LivingChristian.org, was: While you wash your hands PRAY for 20 seconds. Let’s change the world! Can you imagine if everyone really did pray for 20 seconds how many prayers would be sent out into the ether—the heavens. Think about how many times you’ve washed your hands today. Most of us have raw paws from the continuous washing.
Our bodies are feeling the impact physically, not to mention our social interaction is lacking. Introverts seem to fair better, but extroverts not so much. They are lonely.
The positive in all of this is, while going through this pandemic, we are able to connect due to technology. We can connect with people from all venues from anywhere through these devices. The negative is we’re not connecting in person, but times like now it’s a blessing to have our devices. Studies show people are experiencing more depression based on loneliness and isolation while working remotely as well as connection with friends and family via various devices during this “shut in” time.
Though it is a blessing to have our devices to connect as we’re forced to disconnect it does take a toll on us physically.
Spending Time On Digital Devices Effects:
• Sleep pattern. Studies show electronics may stimulate you before bed. Did you know ninety percent of people in the United States admit to using a technological device during the hour before hitting the sack? And did you know kids and teens use electronic media to help them relax—and adults do too? It’s not only the brain stimulation that can cause agitation, but also the light exposure is known to negatively impact sleep time, sleep quality, and even daytime alertness.
• Poor eating habits. It’s easier to grab snacky foods while engaged on our devices than to stop all entertainment and sit at a table to eat. Why? Well, we get bored to only engage in one activity. Today we are multi-tasking rather than sitting in the moment engaged with our food. Eating distracted leads to overeating and/or choosing poor quality foods, because they’re just easier to grab.
• Stress. People who spend too much time online are at risk of depression and other mental illnesses. Kids are addicted to gaming leading to little sleep, and over stimulation. Spending long hours on your device of choice can disrupt the nervous system from over stimulation, and cause the brain to be in a state of chronic stress.
• Joint aches. Sitting hunched over looking at a screen can lead to back pain and joint issues. It’s not uncommon to suffer from shoulder pain caused by the muscles and tendons between neck and wrist being held tensed in one posture for long periods.
• Withdrawn. Working online in isolation can be a lonely job due to lack of social interaction. Social withdrawal and social isolation can make it difficult to do the things you normally would enjoy, or to get through the day as you become more withdrawn
• Poor posture. Again we rarely sit upright when we are engaged on the computer or playing with our Smart Phones. It’s a hunched over position we find ourselves in as we extend our necks out to see the screen. It can also lead to wrist and finger joint pain…and carpal tunnel.
• Sit too much. Sitting too long can lead to varicose veins, or spider veins, though it may not be harmful it’s not delightful to look at when your wearing shorts or swimsuits. In rare cases, sitting too long can lead to more serious conditions like blood clots.
• Less Family connection. When engaged online it’s hard to pull the self away from the social media drama and join the family for dinner to engage in actual conversation. It’s not uncommon to have family members wiggly at the table because they’re anxious to return to their devices for fear they may be missing out on something.
• Less social interaction. Time alone without interacting with others can be a lonely endeavor. People do need people.
• Depression. And of course working remotely or spending too much time in isolation can lead to depressed moods. Detaching from others is not natural. One way to work through this is to try working a few hours on your patio or in your yard where you can “plug in” and be one with nature and the outdoor light.
I’m a writer. I’m a professor. And I’m a clinical psychotherapist—most of which is staring at a screen. The most interaction, which I love, is with my patients one-on-one—eye contact and seeing and feeling their expressions of woe and glee. But for now, I’m looking at them through a screen and all of us are grateful for that.
When I wrote the blog Connection Through Disconnection I mentioned, The therapy world, and medical as well, is going online too! Sessions are held in a Face Time/Skype manner, and private on-line programs, which are popping up on the Internet in large numbers All good, but again, it’s another disconnect. But now I know the blessing in this connection, even if we aren’t face to face. I’m thankful for VSee.com and telemedicine which allows practitioners to reach their patients no matter what’s going on out there.
As a clinical psychotherapist/addiction psychologist, onsite and online, professor on/site and online, and writer totally online I can say there’s good and bad in both venues.We writers work alone and spend great amounts of time in our head. Too much internal thinking can lead to agita, angst, and unease. And did I mention our eyes? Staring at the screen we blink less, which can lead to dry eye and other eye complications. So when our lives return to normal, and I know they will, I look forward to connection in the flesh but will always be grateful for our devices in a whole new light.
What are you doing to stay connected? Are you experiencing stress and anxiety, if so what do you do to quiet your stress? I’d love to hear what you do to alleviate stress and strain…we can all learn from you.
To share your thoughts…simply scroll down to the comments section and let me hear your story…let me help you…
Stay tuned…you never know where my mind will wander…
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Hugs to you, I care!
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Speaker, writer, licensed clinical psychotherapist, PhD in addiction psychology, eating disorder professional, hypnotherapist changing the view about compulsive eating one addict at a time.