Corona-Kindness; Perspective and Understanding Begins with Ourselves
By Dr. Hillel Harris

It has been nearly 2 months that most of us have been homebound, and it seems we are slowly heading
towards less restrictions.  Some state parks have opened, and it is likely that certain businesses will
open.  Although we may feel ready to return, we are still in the midst of the pandemic.  Nobody knows
when we will emerge freely.  While we are anxious to get back to our normal lives as soon as possible,
the reality is likely that this will be a staged process.  As stir crazy as this new reality is, I believe we are
now moving from a state of shock into more of a steady-state acceptance phase of what a new normal
might be, at least for the short-term foreseeable future.

I’d like to offer some insights into how we may, dare I say, embrace this time period and develop and
implement goals for personal development that can ultimately lead to decreased stress and improved
life satisfaction. 

I’ll start with how we can be kinder to ourselves and start to dial down the stress level.  While we may
feel the pressures of work, job loss or job insecurity, or the feeling that we should be accomplishing so
much because we have extra time, we are failing to account for a chronic underlying stress, being that
we are in a new and uncomfortable situation.  Unexpectedly and without warning, we have been thrust
into a new reality, placing all types of new obstacles into our lives, something which has rarely happened
in our lifetime.  Adapting takes time.  Imagine moving to a new city, or a new country; or starting a new
job, or a new school; it would take time to adjust.  So too, will this new normal require acclimatization. 
Patience must begin with ourselves.  Patience also means having compassion for each other, as
everyone is dealing with the stress in their own ways.

When you start to feel overwhelmed, psychologists will draw your attention to the present.  Take stock
of what’s around you, your surroundings, and what you already have.  Be content that you have food to
eat, and place to live, and then think about your accomplishments.  If you are struggling to pay bills, you
need to act.  Take the necessary steps to reach out to your billers, have honest conversations with those
that are sending you invoices, and delay or use your credit cards in lieu of direct payments as much as
possible.  If you are feeling isolated, reach out to friends and family, or join the large numbers of
sprouting online live communities on Zoom or other video conferencing platforms. 

For many, the lack of control and victimization can be paralyzing.  Instead, act decisively and do
something to fight the pandemic.  Donate.  Be creative.  What goods or services are most needed, and
by whom?  What do I think may be of value to society or other individuals, that may give me a sense of
purpose?  Perhaps you want to volunteer at your local foodbank. Many seniors have stopped handing
out food because of fears of contracting the virus due to their increased risk.  If you put on a mask and
help load boxes into people’s trunks, your actions will make a big difference.  Food banks and soup
kitchens have all seen increased demand and need for extra volunteers.  Giving back tends to do
wonders for the individual.  Do not feel helpless.  Each of us has the power to transform our own lives as
well as those around us in ways we often do not know.

When we go outside, act civilly with one another.  Now more than ever, this crisis is about our
community and less each person individually.  The goal is to decrease community spread of the virus. 
Give people the 6 feet of distance, whether you are in the grocery store, or walking past one another in
the street.  Treat one another as you would want to be treated.  We will emerge better, and hopefully
our sense of community with one another will be rekindled. 

Most upcoming appointments continue to be via telemedicine. Under certain circumstances, in-person
visits are being conducted. If you have goals of losing weight and becoming healthier, ask us about our
special health programs. I work together with a health coach, Malissa Owen. We began collaborating
because we understood that true health can be achieved only through the adoption of healthy
behaviors.  Together, we perform complete personalized evaluations, including laboratory testing,
imaging, and begin treatment using behavioral modification in order to create healthy lasting habits.

Dr. Hillel Z. Harris, MD, FACLM 
Dr. Harris is one of only 5 physicians in South Florida who is board-certified by the
American Board of Lifestyle Medicine.

To schedule a free consultation call 561-819-2988.

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