The Silent Pandemic

I believe there is a silent pandemic that is parallel to the covid-19 pandemic. I know I am experiencing it and I have talked to so many others that are too. The challenge of anxiety, depression, and the ongoing challenges to our mental health.

It is certainly understandable because of our feelings of isolation, social distancing, fear of a loved one getting it or ourselves, and hearing “CNN” – Constantly Negative News.

As I shared in my writings about “Joe” when we are together, we always hold hands. We are always sitting together, walking together, and share a hug when needed.

I got thinking about how many hugs do we need a day to feel connected and to “feel good”? Family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.” While that may sound like a lot of hugs, it seems that many hugs are better than not enough.(Apr 10, 2018 Healthline)

Why are hugs and physical touch important? When we hug we release oxytocin, a hormone that relaxes us and lowers anxiety. It’s often called the “cuddle hormone,” and when it’s released it can effectively lower blood pressure and reduce the stress hormone norepinephrine.

Research has revealed that skin-to-skin contact for infants is essential for infants to thrive as well. They found that babies that have this contact often cry less, calm faster, and helps them sleep better. For the parents it helps to reduce their stress level as well.

So if you are feeling “down”, anxious or depressed don’t berate yourself, don’t let the IBSC (itty bitty sh-tty committee” gather in your mind. There are good reasons why you feel this way.

And this isn’t limited to those of us who have had this experience before the pandemic. It is affecting many many more people.

Like the covid-19 pandemic this “silent pandemic” isn’t limited to colour, culture, profession, or gender.

I know I can’t go to see my best friend “Joe” right now. And that does make me incredibly sad, but I do little things throughout the day to make me feel less sad.

Of course, I Facetime with “Joe” and that gives me a lift until we hang up! Then I feel a twinge of sadness and a few tears fall. And so, I have had to find other ways to lift my spirits since I can’t be on Facetime all the time with “Joe”.

Here are a few things I have been doing … getting outside to enjoy the sunshine (when it is there!), spending time with my pets (especially my big pets – the horses), I read or watch funny and motivational materials, I do yoga (well I am trying!), I am doing the APB as often as I can (gaining awareness to ground myself – pausing and taking 3 breaths – sorry I mention this a lot but it is easy to do and gives you all the benefits of a hug!), and I am walking the labyrinth and using my finger labyrinths more than ever.

What are you doing to stay positive and inspired? “Joe” and I need some more ideas!

Although we are to still refrain from giving a hug or a handshake, we can put our hand on our heart, perhaps giving a wee bow to acknowledge the love, essence, and hope we have of being close again.

Stay strong! Stay safe! And as my best friend “Joe” says – Be Kind! Boom baby and a big cyber hug to all of you.