June 11th, 2020
Co-authored by Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith and Bill Yarborough.
Disruptions in life can force us to follow paths we might not otherwise take, sometimes leading to profound and beneficial changes. We all can name things we want to do when the risks of the coronavirus have passed. We miss getting together with family and friends, eating out, going to church, the movies, theater, sporting events, and our work.
Are there routines we have suddenly learned to live without? Some of our clients believe so, and certain organizations, large and small, are discovering new economies to their operation – for example, commuting.
Not all commuting is necessary. Significant reductions in stress and health benefits can arise from non-commuting lifestyle changes. In the Bay Area, foregoing commuting to work can save an average of two hours each day depending on your distance. Some who were able to work from home successfully now recognize how effective they have been in a virtual work environment while recapturing two personal hours.
Bill was flying out-of-town most weeks while working for Bank of America. But when the 2008 Financial Crisis occurred, his travel was curtailed to two flights a year, providing him more time to spend with family and engage in exercise and hobbies. This change improved his emotional and physical health, and he continued his lighter travel schedule until his retirement. And Bank of America was also able to tighten its belt while enduring a recessed economy.
Working from home has been so successful for Twitter that CEO Jack Dorsey has made it a permanent option for his employees.
When one considers the benefits of no longer commuting to work and/or flying around the country, they appreciate the extra time they have to spend with their family, walk outdoors, engage in hobbies or creative pursuits, and other self-care activities.
People who found it cumbersome to attend social clubs, service clubs, churches, and other such activities have discovered an easier way to engage. Several organizations, now conducting their activities via Zoom or other virtual services, have noticed an upswing in attendance, particularly from those who seldom attended in the past. Without the need to dress up and drive to events, these individuals find it much easier to plug in virtually. Members have found it easier to stay connected to organizations and activities through virtual methods and presume they will continue to do so after the pandemic.
As a result, some social organizations are exploring the possibility of allowing members to engage either way, in person or virtually. And one thing is for certain, more people have learned how to engage online and feel comfortable doing so.
Shelter-in-place has provided many people with time to experiment in new arenas. Some have discovered creative pursuits such as painting or writing or embarking on online educational courses covering topics they have always wanted to explore. Others have used the opportunity to de-clutter or start those digital family photo albums they have put off for years.
Self-improvement seekers that have started an inner journey of meditation and mindfulness, have created an inner peace their previous lifestyle never provided. Such practices can lead to greater mental clarity, allowing you to better recognize habits to keep, discard, or start. Any of these adventures can create a heightened sense of well-being and a powerful determination to continue them going forward.
In some cases, necessity has led to some valuable and unexpected work insights. For example, Holly’s team of therapists have discovered that virtual therapy sessions can be as effective as in-person. They have also discovered that training sessions and group therapeutic workshops can yield successful results, especially when leveraging Zoom technology to facilitate breaking into subgroups. More startlingly, her team has learned that the hands-on, energetic healing technique of Reiki can be effective using visualization in virtual settings.
So, despite our recent hardships, we can gain positives from our pandemic experiences, such as a more balanced non-commuting lifestyle, new ways to stay socially connected, transformative personal habits, and expanded workplace practices.
By Dr. Holly Holmes-Meredith, D. Min., MFT, Board Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist and Bill Yarborough, CHT, and Certified EFT Practitioner.
Below is the link to the June Diablo Gazette. Our Emotional Health column is on page 15.