To our PALM members and St. Louis community,
The health and happiness of our PALM community continues to be at the forefront of my mind each day. With the pandemic enduring at a greater intensity than hoped, we are all coping with chaos and new daily challenges. It’s clear that COVID-19 has impacted us all, but to varying degrees: some among us have lost loved ones; others have been sick; some have suffered from isolation; others have lost jobs; and everyone has had to modify plans and social interactions.
And we must recognize that the pandemic has taken a toll on every one of us physically, emotionally, and psychologically. We cannot underestimate the repercussions in these areas of our lives, nor can we ignore that they are all deeply intertwined.
As these effects become more pronounced in every corner of our lives, it’s important that we each pause to assess what is going well for us, and where we may need to make some adjustments in our thoughts, actions, and interactions. Specifically, how can we prepare ourselves for the flexibility, fluidity, and resilience that is required to sustain ourselves and our loved ones throughout this crisis and into the future?
In my years of training and practice of mind-body medicine, and working with the Anthropedia Foundation, I’ve observed two key awareness-building practices that are helpful as we seek a path toward resilience. I am sharing them with you here.
First, try to accept reality as it is. You and I may or may not like this “new normal.” However, fighting with it measurably increases stress and emotional volatility, which also negatively influences our physical health.
Facing our challenges with calm acceptance allows us to see things more clearly and regain control over how we respond. It also makes our response more appropriate and effective, as it is more aligned with what is really going on. And, we reduce our stress response and the ensuing consequences for our thoughts and body.
Second, seek to expand your perspective so that the present and its difficulties do not consume your whole view of life. Focusing narrowly on what is right before us can lead to paralysis, rumination, and maladaptive reactions. Using our intelligence to go beyond ourselves and think more globally helps us give our problems an appropriate amount of time and attention.
To build on these two awareness-building practices, a useful question in this moment is: What does vigilance without fear look like?
My response is: it looks like cooperativeness. Humans are social animals, relying on one another in every plane of life: sharing information and learning; establishing food sources and shelter; supporting through celebrations and mourning; inspiring virtues and goodness.
Connection to others and a community is an essential component of our well-being. Indeed, cooperativeness is how our species has survived for so long.
Let’s ask ourselves, what more can we do to bring cooperativeness into the world?
First, we can actively work on cultivating a sense of community, especially while many of us are more physically distanced or hidden behind masks. For example, we can smile with our eyes; verbally express appreciation, encouragement, and positive thoughts more than we may normally do; think of others and ask how we can support them; and generously offer patience and empathy.
We can also challenge ourselves in a different, positive way. Namely, by asking: How can I be more empathetic? How can I be more kind? How can I be more patient?
The answers are personal and meaningful, and can lead us to a lighter approach in our thoughts and interactions, where we are guided more strongly by kindness and care than fear and self-defense.
While no one knows how this situation will evolve, at PALM we are looking ahead, keeping perspective, taking care of our community, and staying calm. In addition to my suggestions for self-reflection, I encourage you to use PALM as a resource and support.
Lauren Munsch Dal Farra, MD
CEO | PALM Health
9160 Clayton Road, Ladue, Missouri 63124
p: 314-801-8898 | www.palmhealth.com