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The Many Masks of Covid

How will I/we show up in this unprecedented time? Let’s face it we are all masking something right now whether it be physically wearing a mask to protect ourselves and others, refusing to wear one, or frankly, masking our emotions. Regardless, we are all dealing with this crisis of understanding.

We have to wear physical masks almost everywhere we go nowadays. I love to look at the masks that everyone wears, it is one way to outwardly show one's personality or style. I do however wonder and stop to think what are people hiding behind the mask?

I believe that we go through a sensory and emotional journey to get us to what is behind our masks. I’m not just talking about nose and mouth, but what are the feelings that we keep from the world behind our masks? It’s really easy to keep the way that we are feeling hidden. Do you feel sad? Happy? Lonely? Anxious? The good and the not so good emotions are difficult to decipher. However, I believe that we can connect with other people safely through and with our masks.

As we enter and continue to get lost in the months of COVID I think it’s important to do a pre-fall check-in. Usually this time of year, people are dreading the Summer ending and the thoughts of obligatory work and school routines, but this year I find my clients looking forward to taking on another season. Regardless of what mask you might be wearing how do you want to approach this new season? Obviously, this year is going to be completely different than past years. What will the holidays look like? Will our children trick or treat? Will we celebrate with extended family and friends and will we join in the community? How strange is it to ask these questions as I start to see some of the holiday decorations fill the stores. I’m sure several questions are buzzing around your mind that may be contributing to the multiple different emotional masks that we wear.

The transition of wearing masks can be a difficult and different one than we’re used to. It sparks some debate, of course, as most things do. It sort of reminds me of the fight to require the use of seat belts in cars. Both masks and seat belts could be seen as minor inconveniences that ultimately work to keep us safe. When it comes to these transitions, what is your coping mechanism? Are you one to keep your head down and get through it? Are you someone who sets goals and tries to reach them? Whichever your preferred method of making it through this next season of COVID is, there is one thing at the root of this all.

We, as humans, need connection. While on the surface connecting with masks might seem difficult, there are a few different ways to stay connected with others!

In this day and age, research shows that loneliness is one of the major contributors to mortality. You might be thinking to yourself, “How am I supposed to connect with others in a time like this?”

Here are a couple of my favorite ways to connect!

1. Speak up - Foster new relations and rekindle existing!

The emotional and physical mask creates a barrier against connecting with loved ones, and even with connecting with strangers. I used to be able to smile at my neighbors as I strolled by on my daily walk, now they can only see my eyes! Don’t worry though, I have no problem saying a great big “HELLO NEIGHBOR!”

A great digital option is to check out the Next Door app. This app allows you to stay up-to-date with everything that goes on in your neighborhood.

That works on a physical level, but let’s go a little deeper. Sometimes it’s hard to know when someone in our lives is struggling. Our friends could be feeling fear and loneliness, and we might not have any idea that they’re feeling that way. One of the things you can do is shoot them a text. Engage in a meaningful conversation! You never know just how much a simple text could mean to someone.

2. Get Involved - Join a charity - Give back (yes, they exist on-line too)! I think that through giving back we can ground ourselves and therefore give to ourselves. By volunteering, we can give to those who are in need. It can take up to an hour of your time, and in turn, you’d be helping someone who might need it.

Even though we are in a pandemic, there are still ways to get involved. “Dear God are We There Yet” created virtual volunteer opportunities. Some people need someone to read to their children or help filling out forms. Check out their website for ways to get involved.

3. Join online communities!

I’m sure you’ve seen pop-ups on your Facebook for various groups. You know, the ones for millennial moms who share recipes, or college kids looking for roommates. Well, did you know that there are online groups for almost every topic that you might be interested in? Some examples of online platforms you can join are Girl Boss and Study Hall. Of course, mark your calendars, back by popular demand EmpowHer is offering another FREE Get Grounded Power Hour August 19th at 10am PST! The goal behind this is creating a platform that promotes connectivity among its members. We aren’t alone and we don’t need to hide behind our masks. So, there you have it. We might be in a seemingly dark time, but together we can use these masks to shine light in the darkness. I’m here to help you through this emotional journey that you might be going through. Don’t hide behind your mask, but rather let it be a sign of your individuality and hope for a brighter future. To our open hearts and our greatest gift - health!

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