Column: Navigating the ever-changing pandemic with hope

Opening Our Eyes by Nan Dickie

It’s late September. We’ve made it through another month of the pandemic.

Even though it’s been with us for more than six months, it may still feel new, because it is ever-changing.

We were given a bit of a respite over the summer, which feels a long time ago now.

Unfortunately, many people were experiencing pandemic fatigue at the outset of summer. Some became restless, frustrated and impatient – all understandable – and relaxed their care in keeping themselves and others safe.

As a result, we experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases.

We have been sobered by the recent alarming spread of the virus. We need to hunker down for the months ahead – the annual flu season, the dreaded second wave and, not too far off, winter.

We are becoming more confined to indoors, knowing that the re-start of school recently, and the re-opening of more business, may lead to further dangerous community transmission of the virus.

Knowing all of this, how can we best prepare mentally for the uncertainty and unpredictability that lie right in front of us? Of course, we’ve lived with uncertainty since the beginning of the pandemic. But back then, many of us thought (or at least hoped) that we would come to some new normal after a few months. But we haven’t. And we probably won’t for some time yet.

Read more: COVID-19 makes its mark on Shuswap schools, teachers and parents

Read more: Column: Distancing, not isolating, and handling our fears

This is not an easy future to face.

Some people have chosen to deny the current situation and despair about the future – definitely not a wise nor helpful choice for our individual mental well-being, nor for that of our community.

But there are other, better, choices.

We can be aware of the ever-changing circumstances, asking what we must do to protect ourselves and others. This may mean that our plans and goals of last month or even last week do not fit now.

We may need to reset our short-term goals, and devise a clear plan to achieving new ones. We can focus on what can we realistically do this week or this month within the current situation. This calls for us to be flexible and resilient, to be patient and persevere, over and over again.

It’s natural if we do not feel an abundance of hope at this time. But hope is so crucial, especially during all this change and uncertainty. Focusing on the present can reduce our stress, and increase our sense of hope.

It’s difficult now to even know what to hope for.

Holding some abstract hope for the very unknown future is not very beneficial. Rather, we ought to be active in our hope, by doing everything personally possible to ensure we are part of creating a world we want to participate in.

Nan Dickie is a local author, speaker and former facilitator of a Salmon Arm depression support group.

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