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The COVID-19 pandemic led to many changes in our lives. Self-care and our sense of community are just two.

From exercising at home to starting a meditation journey to redefining how we connect with our doctors through telemedicine, most of us have had to change and adapt to the newness COVID-19 layered into our lives.

In a three-part series, we’ll highlight some of the positive changes that have formed as a result of necessity. Here, we’ll explore how our self-care habits and our sense of community has evolved with Arthur Breese, diversity director, and Dawn Fisher, program specialist, from the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Geisinger.

Self-care, for the better

Before COVID-19, there was “Self-care Sunday” — one day each week dedicated to me time. But today, most of our self-care habits and routines have been amplified. Time spent working from home and not leaving the house as often as we used to demanded routine overhauls and a closer look at our habits.

Today, many of us are making more time for ourselves. We’re learning more hobbies and crafts, exercising at home, spending more time with our children and exploring meditation. Many people have begun to reconnect with nature, taking more hikes and walks, gardening and doing yardwork, and even trying out birdwatching.

Before the pandemic, Mr. Breese wasn’t spending much time on mindfulness, which is something he finds himself practicing at least 5 to10 minutes each day now. “I take a few minutes to focus on breathing and center myself — something I never had time to do before, even though I was told you could do it in the car,” he says.

He’s also been exercising daily and practicing mindful eating. “Before, I would listen to radio or stand up and eat — going through the motions. Today, I’m eating less, eating better and eating mindfully, enjoying the flavor and texture of my food,” says Mr. Breese.

Spending more time with her dogs and chickens is Ms. Fisher’s chosen form of self-care. “I’ve never been good at meditation, but watching my chickens run around gives me a way to slow my mind as a form of meditation,” she says.

She’s also found that, with more time spent at home, there’s a lot of time and opportunity for thought, learning and reflection. “I’ve pushed myself to read and listen to more diverse voices that I might have not heard before,” she says.

“Working from home and not having to drive to and from work every day allowed more time for this. I’m reading more and being more thoughtful.”

Rebuilding a sense of community

While joining in on community yard sales or attending local council meetings has been redefined, people have found a way to be together while staying apart. There’s a communal aspect of going through the same thing as those around us. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve all been experiencing similar feelings and emotions at the same time.

This connection teaches us to be more considerate of the people around us, whether it’s covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze or being a little more understanding when a friend cancels plans last minute because they aren’t feeling well.

Mr. Breese noticed a shift in how he felt toward others throughout the pandemic. “I was always a person to ask someone how they were doing, but it was more as a greeting before. Now, I really care and want to know because we’re all going through so much right now as the pandemic continues. And we’re experiencing another pandemic at the same time — racism.”

Ms. Fisher finds herself connecting with people on a deeper level than ever before. “At the end of March, I reached out to everyone in my phone list and picked up some relationships that dwindled off in the past,” she says.

But the pandemic isn’t the only thing that has shifted our sense of community. She notes that, as much as the pandemic brought us together, we need to be mindful not to be pulled apart because of differing opinions and political positions.

“People don’t agree on some really important issues today — and this causes a lot of distrust and leads to some difficult conversations,” Ms. Fisher says.

Mr. Breese noticed the same thing happening around him. “With COVID-19, we were told ‘We’re all in this together.’ Then with the protests, we were sent different messages and people started having such different opinions. We need to be mindful of this and work to bring everyone back together again. When we’re hit with a natural disaster, like a hurricane or flood, it brings out the best in people. Why can’t we practice the same behavior around social justice?”

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of change to our lives, so many are working to find a positive perspective — one that shows we are open to change for the better and that reminds us we’re all in this together.

Next steps:

Learn why it's important to come out to your doctor
Pandemic infringing on your love life? Read dating and relationship tips from our expert.

Learn more about Geisinger's Office of Diversity and Inclusion

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