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How to actually "Keep Calm and Carry On"

I believe that connection is what anchors us – to others, ourselves, and to something bigger than ourselves.  We are wired for connection and experiencing fulfilling relationships is one of our greatest predictors of well-being and longevity.  The call for social distancing goes against the grain of what feels good and right.  However, we are also being presented with an extraordinary opportunity to welcome a shift in perspective and take meaningful action; and it is profound - for our current circumstance as a nation, for your own personal world, and the future of both. 

Connect in New Ways
Right now, limiting social interaction is a radical act of compassion,  generosity and sacrifice.  As Dr. Richard Davidson (Director for the Center for Healthy Minds UWMadison) emphasizes, "Let that sink in – the primary motivation for social distancing is to benefit others".  So regardless of the varying opinions about social distancing, hopefully as we reach the other side of this global disruption, we will have a deeper awareness of ourselves and the interconnectedness we all share.  In the same breath, we live in an age when person-to-person connection is already devalued, and frankly we cannot afford to lose much more of that.  Because our well-being is so closely related to our interactions and relationships, I fear the cost of social distancing to our emotional health is likely to cause a cascade of distress.  We must remind ourselves that "social distancing doesn't have to mean social disconnection" (Brene Brown).  Here are some practices to help you connect in meaningful and intentional ways while strengthening your compassion for the greater good.

  • Use the phone as a telephone - Call and talk to someone like it's 1989.  We need to hear each other's voice (Facetime/Zoom/GHangout works too, but retro is cool).
  • Limit your news intake and other distractions - Chances are good you are scrolling a whole lot more these days.  Put the phone in the other room, close the computer, turn off the TV.  Get informed, then move on.  
  • Practice savoring - really take in the positive experience of connection.  If you are with someone, study their eye color, take in their scent, appreciate the uniqueness of their voice.  Or luxuriate in connecting with nature, God, music, etc.
  • Engage with JOMO (the Joy Of Missing Out) instead of FOMO.  Be aware of all of the new and wonderful experiences you are having because life is not "normal".
  • Be generous.  Studies show that generosity is the most effective way to activate circuits in the brain associated with well-being and positive emotion. Ask the neighbor if they need help with yard work, send a donation to a school/family/business overwhelmed by the change, don't rush to end the phone call with your mom.
  • Get in tune with your body. We live in a very heady world, but our body is a valuable source of wisdom and comfort.  Spend some time working to integrate and connect your body/mind relationship - this will help to strengthen your embodied wellness. This can be a vulnerable place.  Go there slowly if needed, but go there. Try this Judson Brewer body scan meditation.
  • Have deep conversations with your children.  This is a chance to nurture a new paradigm about how we can live our lives...a paradigm that is rooted in love.  Do yourself a favor and watch this video together.
  • Connect with hope and faith - There is no greater encouragement I can give.  It is an anchor for your soul.  For me that is God.  A mysterious and loving God. 


In Kindness, 
Jennifer Van Rossum, MA, LPC

"Faith turns on a light which changes all of life from a gamble in the dark to an adventure in the light" 
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