Evolving in a Time of Crisis

The current pandemic may offer an unexpected opportunity for personal evolution.

By Julie Alvira, MD,

While it’s true that practicing solitude is important and beneficial, before COVID-19 many people didn’t fully grasp or understand the concept of solitude. The recent pandemic forced people to become familiar with it quite abruptly.

Solitude is the state of being alone without actually feeling alone, since we are our own company. In 2015, author Jane Porter described that when moments of solitude are chosen and appreciated, they result in great productivity and creative thinking.

Could it be that one of the positive messages of this whole crisis is that we may need to slow our pace and dedicate more time to ourselves? Or in the case of couples, to focus on our marital relationships? If we live with our children and/or relatives, maybe it means spending more quality time with them instead of the daily rush between jobs and schools.

Solitude is a positive state and feeling lonely is a negative state. What has happened during the pandemic is that in addition to forcing us to work alone, it’s also imposed social isolation. This isolation goes against human nature and our need for social connection. Social adaptations are part of our daily lives and are central to making us the most successful species on the planet.

What happens when all the “normal” interactions involved in the minutiae of regular day-to-day living suddenly disappears? It’s a shock.

Thanks to the concept of neuroplasticity, our brains have the ability to activate new neural channels and learn new habits. For many, isolation and solitude have brought both positive and negative aspects.

Let’s see …
Many people in early recovery from addictions such as alcohol and other substances have not been exposed to parties and other social stimulants. At the same time, they find it difficult to be with themselves because they have to work on their mental health twice as much, without the daily connection of in-person meetings. At the same time they have been learning to connect virtually.

For many, the virtual connection through Zoom, Blue Jeans, etc., online platforms intended for conferences and work situations have become an important form of connection, not only work but for personal use.

Many people are leaving their houses to walk down the street and see their neighbors, even from a distance, which they didn’t do before due to lack of time.

Many families are spending time playing board games, completing puzzles, and cooking with their children, or have created ways to cohabit under the same roof every day, all day.

Working men and women, as well as school and university students, have been learning to work or study “online” or remotely in the wake of the crisis, while learning to organize their space and time in the best possible way and create daily routines to feel comfortable with the new norm.

It had become popular to do exercises at home and follow virtual routines or create them to stay physically and mentally fit.

Some people who wanted to lose weight have seen the benefit of focusing more on themselves and not forcing food restrictions but rather paying attention to the foods their bodies needs for fuel at that time. For others, it’s the opposite. Home isolation has resulted in panic and anxiety, with people using food as an escape by repeatedly consuming food high in sugars and flours to feel better, which usually results in gain weight.

Couples have learned to be together all day when they used to only spend time together in the morning and after work. For many this has been of great benefit and solidified connection. Others have found it difficult to be with their partner every day, all day, resulting in many to feel they don’t have space to breathe.

Many medical colleagues and nurses leave their families and expose themselves to face an unknown entity and perhaps get sick to save others. They don’t have the privilege of staying home and practicing new positive habits of solitude and isolation.

Before thinking about the negatives of staying at home, let’s look at everything from another angle. In what way will I evolve with this crisis?

Julie Alvira, MD, MBA Healthcare Management, is the founder of Coach Dr. Julie, LLC – Physician Life and Weight Loss Coaching Services. You can find her on Facebook as Coach Dr. Julie or via email at julie@coachdrjulie.com. www.coachdrjulie.com