Surviving and Thriving

It has been more than a year since COVID-19 entered our consciousness and almost a year since it made its unwelcome entry into our reality and our lives. As I think about it, I cannot think of anyone whose life has not been upended in some way by this virus. I cannot think of anyone who has not had a year of anxiety and uncertainty along with, for many, struggle and grief.

Whether you came to work or worked from home, it was still difficult.  Children in school without classrooms, many people facing unemployment, the list goes on and the pressure has been extraordinary.  We see it reflected in the statistics regarding mental health and depression which have increased dramatically during this year in which “normal” seems like a distant memory.

Those of us who work with older adults have talked often about the “COVID fatigue” that is a very real thing, not just for us and for our staff members but for our elders as well.  It is real for the rest of the world too.  We are all exhausted from isolation, from stress, from wondering if our lives will ever be what they once were, if we will ever be able to enjoy the relationships and social interactions that we treasure.

Although vaccine certainly creates a sense of real light at the end of the tunnel, we know that this war against COVID is not yet over.  The desire to see 2020 end has not resulted in a 2021 that has all the answers we want to hear although we all hope that those answers will come soon.

How do we find the energy to keep going?  How do we find the strength to move forward?  I think the answer is self-care, taking the time and making the commitment to our own health and not just physical health but mind, body, spirit.  We have to find ways to rebuild ourselves in order to help others.  And the only way to rebuild is to focus on ourselves, on what we need to do as individuals.

If you drew a circle and put a dot in the middle to symbolize the core of your being, what would you put closest to that center? What else would populate that circle? What would you put outside the circle? If you do this exercise or even just think through it, you will find that there are things that are important to you that are not receiving the energy and focus that they need. And you will likely find that there are things that don’t matter than are receiving a disproportionate amount of energy.  Recognizing that lack of an alignment is an opportunity to rethink priorities and, beyond that, to create and develop a plan that prioritizes that which really matters to you. It’s an opportunity to create action steps for yourself that you can commit to and honor.

The most important commitments are the ones we make to ourselves.  How can you commit to putting yourself first, to not just identifying but meeting your own needs and to rebuilding your strength?  Then and only then can you continue to move forward for yourself and for others.

About the Author
Carol Silver Elliott is President and CEO of The Jewish Home Family, which runs NJ's Jewish Home at Rockleigh, Jewish Home Assisted Living, Jewish Home Foundation and Jewish Home at Home. She joined The Jewish Home Family in 2014. Previously, she served as President and CEO of Cedar Village Retirement Community in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is chair-elect of LeadingAge and past chair of the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
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