David Mandel
Chief Executive Officer, OHEL Children's Home and Family Services

Emotional Immunity Reserves

There is a famous adage in business: The customer is always right. A similar maxim in healthcare is, the patient comes first.

These principles hold true and are self-evident when a relationship exists between seller and buyer, amongst the health care professional and patient.

Coronavirus has upended these millennia-old relationships and the entire world. A millennial thousand and no less for the current millennials.

Recent tropical storms uprooted trees many hundreds of years old. We saw the physical damage it caused to homes, power lines and sidewalks. Covid has not only upended lives, industry, and communication – it has transformed nature and nurture, the very underpinning of our cosmos.

Covid seems to be part of our every sentence, if not in our every thought.

Parents eagerly await their child’s first step. It is an exciting development photographed, recorded, and FaceTimed to grandparents near and far. The first step. A child’s foray into the future, to the known and unknown.

Has Covid turned us into a child yearning for our first step?  We are seemingly afraid to take any steps, some large, others small.

The same confidence that we instill in our children to forge ahead, we appear to shun in ourselves.

Anxiety is the word of the day.

In fact, it may be the most frequently felt emotion concurrent with the term Coronavirus. We are now in the eighth month since this word entered our spheres in February 2020.

Has anxiety abated?

At Ohel, it is the most frequently requested call for help. From young children, to parents, to the elderly, the general sense of anxiety prevails.

We cannot allow ourselves this malaise for our generation. The fundamental gift we work to instill in our children – that of self-confidence – is the very work we must do ourselves. We can spend days blaming our elected officials, we can be skeptical of the media, we can wait for positive news updates, we can wish it all weren’t so – yet, we have to accept a new reality as uncertain as it is.

One cannot wish anxiety and uncertainty away. We have to purposefully align our daily routines, our life work balance, our blended work from home with our necessary presence in the workplace, all the while building our lives within a new level of uncertainty. That is our new life reality today. It is our new normal.

We’ve each spent a lifetime preparing ourselves for where we are today, pre-Covid. We each have reserves of inner strength, an emotional immunity reserve. Man, woman is comprised of the physical and emotional. Just as plasma helps the physical we must similarly build up the emotional.

This is the time to call upon our emotional reserves. We needn’t worry about draining it like a bank account. It gets replenished as we live a strong life.

Of course we need to stay safe. We need to make good choices for ourselves, our family, our extended community. Similar to advice given post 9.11 that children should not be exposed to constant images of the World Trade Center collapse, we too should self-monitor the barrage of negative news that is Covid constant. Keep in mind, our children hear our comments, especially any negative words we spew about the news or people. Let’s work on ourselves to find silver linings. Try to avoid making comments that include a ‘but’. An accumulation of positive thoughts and actions may help replenish our emotional immunity reserves.

In an age of uncertainty, we need to explore our best options to act decisively and be ready to change course as needed. And for those who need professional help, they should feel safe in seeking it out. We have to acknowledge that not everyone can think or talk themselves through anxiety.

Like a tree, our emotional reserve is our roots. The Coronavirus storm may have upended trees, we have our own roots to keep us firm as we re-seed our lives, find our footing and move forward.

About the Author
David Mandel is CEO of Ohel Children's Home and Family Services. For more than 50 years, Ohel has provided a safe haven for those suffering in the community. Ohel cares for more than 17,000 individuals in the New York metropolitan area and across all communities offering a broad range of mental health services including outpatient counseling, trauma, anxiety, eldercare, respite and housing.
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