None of us have lived through a pandemic. We are all in uncharted waters together. All of us are coping with changes in our work and in our daily lives. Stress levels are high, and we are all trying to stay afloat. And so it is that this pandemic has become a time for kindness.
Kindness to others and to ourselves
Kindness is almost mystical in many ways. Granting kindness to others and to ourselves has an almost Zen-like calming effect. It truly makes us feel better and more at ease which is something we all need right now. I think we all know this to be true.
Kindness seems to bring out the best in us and in humanity. We see this all the time when people are in distress or a time of need. One of my heroes is Chef Jose Andres. He has closed all his restaurants in Washington, DC and has turned them into food kitchens to feed those without food, and he has started the World Central Kitchen to provide food to areas of disaster.
Kindness costs us little or nothing, but its benefits to us and others are profound. Kindness is always paying it forward. Because the kindnesses we share will always come back to us. I am seeing this in so many people with whom I have contact. My wife is one of the kindest people I know. She has taught me so much about this and she has always spread kindness through her world. This is so coming back to us in many ways right now, at a time when we really need it.
As we focus on being kind to others, we must also be kind to ourselves. This is not selfish, it is self-caring. One of the ways we can do this is to focus on things that make us feel better about ourselves. We are all dealing with a loss of our normal routines and all feel a loss of control about the world around us. Anything we can do to help re-establish normality in our lives is an act of kindness to ourselves.
One of the things we can do is to try and maintain normality to our daily routines. While we shelter at home, our lives can spiral into almost temporal chaos where each day seems the same and we lose track of what day of the week it is. So, getting up and preparing for the day as we normally would, will help restore some degree of normality.
For me this involves getting up each day about when I would normally do, getting showered and dressed for the day and using my daily skin care products. This just makes me feel better. (Notice the shameless plug for skin care products?)
Focus on Fitness
Focusing on fitness and exercise is also being kind to our bodies and is also important in terms of maintaining our health. Fortunately, almost all states with shelter in home orders allow people to be outside to exercise. As you may know, I am a huge Peloton fan. Getting on the bike and riding with an online community of riders is more beneficial to me than you can know.
Make Virtual Connections
In spite of all the things we can’t do right now, there has never been a time when we have been more able to connect with people in the virtual world. Connecting and reconnecting to one another helps to maintain our sense of community and is an excellent way to show kindness to us and our community of friends. It is a time when we can write letters, telephone, or video with people.
Our family has started a weekly Zoom call on Sunday afternoons. This allow us to check up on and check in with the family. We are all loving this. And all of us feel better afterwards and all of us will be on the call next Sunday.
Keep In Touch with Spirituality
Do what you can to maintain your spiritual lives. This is difficult right now as most places of worship are closed, but there are things you can do at home. So read, meditate, pray, or anything else that helps to spiritually ground you. Spreading kindness will also help to spiritually ground you and connect you. Just one more reason to be kind.
I wish that you will all remain safe and healthy. This is not a time for panic and despair. But a time to be wise in the things we do, a time to be careful in how we physically connect with others, and a time to be kind.
All the best,
David B. Reath, MD