Here we go again... dealing with Covid-19. There was a common feeling of relief, and even a sense of euphoric excitement a few months ago when the pandemic seemed to be waning. Remarkably effective vaccines were readily available. Businesses, dining and entertainment venues were re-opening. In-person social interactions with family and friends were mask-free and joyous.
And then the more-transmissible Delta variant came along. Infections and hospitalizations began to spike again – including dramatically higher numbers of younger-age patients, including children. Vaccine hesitancy and vaccine hostility became political, “freedom” issues, threatening the forward movement toward a level of herd immunity that could snuff out the spread of the virus.
In my last post “Why Americans Say They Won’t Get Vaccinated – 10 Reasons,” I explored this remarkable phenomenon of resistance to vaccines – the first time in a long history of viral plagues that vaccine resistance is so widespread.
Dealing with Covid-19 deja vous…
In our county in Pennsylvania, as in so many parts of the country, infections were spiking. So masking in indoor spaces, even for those of us who are fully vaccinated, once again brought discomfort and frustration to everyday activities like getting groceries, store shopping, dining out, going to the movies, etc. I found myself thinking again whether I should attend social events or get together with family without a mask.
Plus news reports suggesting some declining efficacy of vaccines starting 6 months after vaccination (I’ll be at 6 months in a couple of weeks) are bringing back some suppressed anxieties. At 77 with a recent cancer history, such reports get my attention, and they invoke an uneasiness that can too easily displace the growing sense of freedom and confidence I was feeling just a few months ago.
We can’t, nor should we, ignore the reality of what feels like the new normal in America.
We are mired for now in a reality that threatens not only the physical health of Americans. It also threatens the mental health of all of us.
But, since the focus of this EverAgeless blog is on aging and successfully dealing with its challenges, I’d like to briefly address how we aging folks can most productively deal with this uninvited new normal.
As I write in the book I’m currently working on “EverAgeless: 6 Steps To An Ageless Life,” our core task is to filter the negative messages that surround us. Our job is to focus consciously and proactively on how we can live an ageless life and make our life more enjoyable, fulfilling, full of meaning and purpose.
I think about life as a house with lots of windows.
Outside swirling around are lots of messages about aging and about Covid-19 – some helpful, some harmful – trying to get into the house. I want to open the windows to get fresh air. But I know there’s stuff outside that I don’t want to let in. So I install screens to filter out the bad stuff and let the fresh air in. I can still see the bad stuff swirling around outside, but I control what I let in.
That’s my message to you. We have limited ability to affect those swirling messages outside, but we can install screens to filter out the messages that stress us. We can be in control if we want to be.
Step 1 in living an ageless life is to Look Inward – understanding our self, our core values and truths that make us “us.” Only then can we understand what messages will contribute toward building a better, more authentic self and what messages are irrelevant or harmful.
Step 2 is to Age Defiantly. To build a long, fulfilling life in the face of aging and health challenges, attitude matters. I believe that we should not be passive in letting in messages about the consequences of Covid and its effects on us as we age. Of course, we need to be informed. Some messages need to get through. But many messages do not help us and, instead, stress us to levels that impede our journey toward joy, fulfillment and meaning in our life.
That’s Step 3 – Filter Stress. We must construct and put in place the screening filters that can quickly assess messages with one primary test – will this message help or hinder me as I move forward on my journey toward joy, fulfillment and meaning in my life?
Step 4 is to Forever Aspire – to always be looking forward toward something better. Aspiration pulls us forward. Dealing with Covid-19 imposes borders, limits, rules and fears that impede us. So it is incumbent on all of us to proactively, consciously filter out as much of the negative as possible – to fight our way through the maze of imposed limits so we can focus our attention forward.
We must Take Charge (Step 5) of our life. To live an ageless, ever-aspiring life is to commit to purposeful, consistent ACTION. If you’re not yet fully vaccinated, do it now. Covid is the enemy. It must be eradicated if we are to truly get back to normal.
Covid wants to limit our ability to take action. Covid stirs anxieties and creates barriers to action. It isolates us.
We must fight through these barriers. Reaching out to help others in proactive ways can be both therapeutic and empowering. Expressing selfless care and love during this resurgence is one of our most powerful tools to get us back on our path.
The 6th, and often most elusive step is to Embrace Fun. Dealing with Covid-19 has dampened our ability to have fun – joyous, unabashed, smile-inducing fun. We need fun to counter-balance life’s inevitable hurt and sadness. Whether you have been directly affected by Covid’s merciless spread, or you have been enveloped by the incessant media bombardment of cautionary messages, fun has been much harder to come by.
So we must embrace and cherish it when we find it, and we must fight for it when it’s elusive.
Dealing with Covid-19 again… sucks. But we each have within us the capability to overcome its power if we will invest energy in these 6 Steps… and find the courage to not passively accept Covid’s evil influence.
My wish for you is that you live a long, productive, meaningful, fulfilled and ever-aspiring life. Don’t let Covid-19 get in the way.
Here’s an informative Ted Talk on dealing with Covid-19.