Words of Wellness: August 19, 2020

August 19, 2020 - Culture of Caring - Claudia Finkelstein

As September rapidly approaches, so do questions of returning to school, work, and sports – safely – in person, in a “hybrid” way, or at all. Questions about the wisdom of every decision abound. There are many conflicting truths and needs to attend to.

Competing priorities are very real. Is there really a “known” right answer for weighing the social and educational needs of children vs. the risk of near certain virus outbreaks? The effectiveness of lockdowns for public health vs. the effects on small business and the economy? The feeling of being “forced” to stay home vs. “forced” to work as an essential worker?

We are more socially isolated and more polarized. There is an election in fewer than 90 days.

In other words, there is no time like the present to figure out how to live as a community even when we disagree with other community members. Choosing to be a member of the MSU College of Human Medicine community brings with it benefits and responsibilities. There are so many links to click to learn our responsibilities as “good citizens.” Basically we should wear a mask, wash our hands, watch our distance, and stay home if we exhibit symptoms or have been exposed as outlined in the MSU Community Compact.

The university and our college are striving to provide clear direction, signage and expectations. It’s crucial that we all be flexible, adaptable, and willing to entertain perspectives other than our own.

This is a lot to ask when we’re already stressed. Which brings back the issue of self-care as an essential practice for these days. This is not just fluff – eating, hydrating, sleeping, moving your body, among other practices is proven to increase your resilience. Find thoughtful information on self-care here

Good communication is certainly easier if you are well fed and not sleep deprived; however, we need to speak with each other in respectful ways, even when we disagree. Non-violent communication is a useful framework. The frame views communication difficulty as a reflection of an unmet need and provides some skills and tools with which to discover, acknowledge, and address the need.

A few phrases like “Oh, I’m really watching my distancing, so I’m going to back up a bit” or “I see you forgot to put your mask on - my family would never forgive me if I got sick at work” may serve you better than “Don’t be such a jerk, back up!” or “For goodness sake - can you not read? Put your mask on!”

Yes, it is tough, it’s confusing and it’s going to last a LONG time. Please feel free to reach out to me at finkel22@msu.edu, send suggestions, concerns, and questions or join a Mindfulness Pop-Up (note: sessions on 8/21 and 8/24 have been canceled).

Above all, thank you for hanging in there, for adapting and for being part of a great community.