Surround yourself with people who add value to your life. Who challenge you to be greater than you were yesterday. Who sprinkle magic into your existence, just like you do to theirs. Life isn’t to be done alone.Alex Elle
Visits to my dentist are typically low on my list of fun things to do but yesterday I had a bit of an epiphany while I was there. During the past two years, each visit to that office has seemed surreal and somewhat disturbing. Walking into a giant waiting room with only three individuals spaced more than six feet apart, masked, sitting in chairs under signs that declare we will be pre-screened for safety was not just daunting but truly weird. Then a masked health professional would come ask a series of questions, take your temperature, and have you sign a consent that advised your level of risk to develop Covid was higher during dental procedures because of aerosols.
But yesterday all of that had disappeared. The waiting room was full, some people had masks on and some didn’t; the pre-screening event was off the table and an innocuous question about how I was feeling seemed to be the extent of worry about the ever present virus. The dental technician was chatty and full of life and every detail of the visit seemed what I would have expected pre-pandemic.
So it got me reflecting about how I have been living my life during the pandemic, especially for the past six months. And re-examining my understanding of what personal assessment of risk really means. Caring for an ill family member has meant trying to isolate and avoid illness at all costs. But really what are those costs and what is that level of risk?
Research has shown for a number of decades that social connection increases life longevity and as you grow older your risk of death increases even more if you are isolated, see few friends or family members, and spend long periods of time alone.
Prior to the pandemic, I was certainly aware that taking those closest to us for granted is something that is insidious and happens often. Many of us spend our working lives striving for appreciation and recognition. As we age, friendships become more like commodities, time seems to be spend chasing, rushing, working, rather than enjoying those that we love the most.
Having goals and wanting to succeed in life is admirable but at the end of it all what is most important are those closest to us. Friends and family backstop having purpose, focus, and feeling like you matter. The pandemic has highlighted how much value should be placed upon our emotional and social connections. Relying on technology to facilitate interactions with those important in our lives, leaves an understandable void that may introduce negative health consequences that should not be ignored.
Indeed, when thinking about the risks of social interactions in this world we now live in that includes covid, it seems paramount that we also consider the risks of isolation and reduced face to face contact. It seems entirely possible that by trying to avoid a virus we may inadvertently sacrifice the quality of our relationships at the expense of our overall health. That is definitely food for thought!
Stay healthy and safe!