Highly Sensitives Reflecting on the COVID Pandemic
By: Thomas Beutel
I believe everyone has been affected in some way by the pandemic.
If you are one of the many thousands who have lost a loved one, a job, a way of life or, are just overwhelmed by it all, I express my sincere sympathy to you.
It’s hard to make sense of the dramatic changes that have occurred, but I think it is also allowing us to reflect on the past and think about the future.
In that spirit, I sent the following question to my fellow HSP World Ambassadors:
“I’ve been thinking a lot about the past many months, with the pandemic and social distancing dramatically changing our world.
It has undoubtedly been both a stressful and hopeful time.
A question we’ve heard asked and one that I’ve been pondering is: When we get back to some semblance of normal (whenever that will be), what would you like to leave behind and what would you like to keep?”
Here’s what they said:
I guess here’s what I would say…
What I’d like to leave behind and what I’d like to keep.
On being an extrovert in quarantine: One thing I’ve learned is that I don’t, in fact, ever have to fear being bored.
I dug deep into my HSP side and found ample opportunity to read, reflect, and launch creative projects. If I could say goodbye to busy-ness forever, I would!
On technology: Zoom socializing was fun, then got old (except for my friends’ trivia night — we take turns hosting and that keeps it fun). For work, though, I’ve loved teaching and consulting via web platforms.
On social media: I am fascinated and heartened by the momentous challenges to injustices in our status quo.
To the extent that social media expedites the process, I’m all for it. But I also feel increasingly uneasy about contributing (except for our podcast, of course!). I can’t pull the plug just yet — I owe a lot of important discoveries and connections to Facebook, for example. But I hope to forge a new relationship with this medium going forward.
I started taking a meditation/mediumship class over a year ago, and while I have come to trust my intuition more, to trust that deep inner knowing that connects all of us to the spiritual, I find myself struggling, still, to incorporate that trust into my everyday life — the one full of practical matters like work, sons who have facial hair, family Facebook drama, and planning dinner during a pandemic.
I would like to let go of my notion that the inner spiritual world and this outer physical one we navigate are separate spaces; that the peace found in one cannot be sustained in the other.
I would like to trust as much in my connection to the spiritual (through my writing, through nature, through stillness) as I do in my ability to cook dinner, weed my garden, and do my day job.
For me, holding onto that trust, especially through challenging times, is the hardest thing. But that’s the thing I’d most like to keep.
When this is over I want to continue to sit out in nature every day.
It helps to calm my mind. I want to continue to take a lot of breaks because it has proven to help me do more.
I want to continue to have zoom calls and text messages between myself and those I do business with rather than leave my house.
I would leave behind…hmm not sure. Not a whole lot changed for me, me being an introvert.
I guess I would leave behind the anxiety of not going out to do things. That it’s fine to stay home… as I do haha. And maybe leave behind the need to be seen as doing something productive all the time.
What I’d like to leave behind and what I’d like to keep
Increased use of plastics and cardboard.
All this screening for protection maybe won’t end up in rivers or seas, but non-reusable coffee cups, takeaway food packing…
Lack of spontaneity.
You can’t easily pop into a supermarket for one thing you forgot; you can’t just go to a pub/restaurant without some planning.
For an HSP and HSS, this is boring!
Whilst writing this, I was invited to a birthday party in a communal outdoor area, and there were two time slots; you booked by email not a fancy online program, but it still takes some getting used to.
Working from home.
Maybe I’d like to change my home itself, yet working here is better than in an office without a doubt, and largely I can do this with my multi income streams; it’s easier to take a break/rest/even a quick nap if you need to! It’s great for self-care.
Reduced reliance on motor vehicles — more walking, cycling.
Public transport use has not recovered yet in the UK and we are advised to use cars to travel; so far we still haven’t reached pre lockdown pollution levels and traffic jams…
Using a local food hub I discovered.
Even if not all the food/drink is local, much of it is, and my money stays in the area rather than being sucked out by a big supermarket chain.
Connecting with people from around the world online including the HSP World team.
Avoiding overwhelm through limiting exposure to media and possible catastrophizing.
It seems like a strange thing to say, ‘I’m grateful for COVID’, but I am.
The temporary closing of schools, businesses, and organizations allowed me to feel into the peace I’m being offered in every moment. To appreciate the “quietness” and compare it to how life was before COVID.
It’s allowed me to appreciate the blessing of air. Now I spend a bit of time tasting the air, smelling the air, using my senses more. I also appreciate the times, maskless, I can breathe the air deeply. Something I took for granted before the virus.
The social distancing aspect has allowed me to delve more deeply into setting healthy boundaries for myself and with myself.
It’s allowed me to forge deeper, more supportive relationships.
The seemingly “slowing down of time” has allowed me to enjoy nature more deeply, more often, and for longer.
The upheaval, while strange and foreign, has allowed me to practice more self-care, and find creative ways to be more eco-conscious.
It’s allowed me to fully appreciate my evolution, how I’ve changed, and how I’m still changing.
There are several things from before the pandemic I will be glad to be leaving behind. One of them is driving so much. Staying at home and venturing out on foot has shown me how much my neighborhood has to offer.
I like being so much more aware of my local environment in my neighborhood. I want to continue that.
I hope to keep walking every day. I like not spending so much money on eating out.
I’m also happy to need less cash in my wallet. I know there are downsides to going cashless, but the upside is fewer things to touch, fewer visits to the ATM.
Another thing I want to leave behind, something of both the pre-pandemic and pandemic era is the wretched amount of tribalism. I will endeavor to reduce the amount of tribe-seeking and ‘othering’ I do, both consciously and unconsciously.
As an independent contractor, I like the trend of more frequent check-ins via Zoom with my colleagues and collaborators.
I also am liking how our family here at home has drawn closer together. We’re cooking together, having more game nights, and cutting each other’s hair.
OK, maybe not so much cutting each other’s hair. There are some things better left to professionals.
How about you? What would you like to leave behind and what would you like to keep?
Interesting in this topic? Read How Highly Sensitive People Can Successfully Navigate COVID