Let's Talk: Coping with Life in the Pandemic

from: Longevity Explorers | 

Discussion Summary

On September 16, 2020, members of the Providence Circle met for a structured discussion of the challenges we face in the special circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.  One of our members, Elissa Arffa, led the discussion.  After brief introductory remarks, we used Zoom "break-out rooms" to divide into three subgroups, each with a designated leader and note-taker. The questions were the same for all of the groups: 

(1) What is the hardest challenge you have faced, and how have you coped with it?

(2) How are you managing with getting nutritious meals?

(3) What is your greatest concern for the future?

(4) What new unexpected experience has been positive?

After 30 minutes of small-group discussion, we returned to the larger group and note-takers reported from each group, one question at a time, with additional comments and questions from all.

Hardest challenge:  Participants voiced many concerns, including pervasive fear, anxiety, worry about how long it would last, fear of becoming sick while isolated, sense of never-ending lockdown, loss of connection to children and grandchildren, fear of doing even useful activities like going to the Y for exercise. Most reported that they were coping: focusing on staying safe; taking precautions; appreciating help from friends and neighbors (and reciprocating); walking more and appreciating their neighborhood; attending virtual lectures, dramas, music events, tours, travel; gaining technical skills (e.g. Zoom).

Getting nutrition: Many had recommendations for take-out and delivery options, trying recipes and eating a healthier diet than before the pandemic, tending home vegetable gardens.

Greatest concern for the future: effects on life going forward, including lost travel plans and family gatherings ("people and places we love"); worry for effects on grandchildren, including lost educational progress and opportunities; overall economic catastrophe affecting the entire country and world; political dysfunction affecting vaccine roll-out.

Unexpected positive experiences:  increased closeness to those in one's household and nearby neighbors; new skills (cooking, gardening, tech); finding Zoom to be a magic means of access to friends and family far and wide, enhancing friendships with near and distant others going through the same experience.

There was a strong sentiment that "tragedy can bring out the best in us" and pleasure in giving and receiving support to make it so.



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Key words: 
social isolation, coping skills, pandemic effects