With COVID-19, many have been forced to return in some format to the customs of previous generations; without access to outings, social visiting or even money to purchase types of entertainment devices. Is there any silver lining in going backwards?
According to experts in the mental health field, the lives many of us lead today show more anxiety and depression compared to 50 years ago. Back a generation or two, children used to play outside games, such as “Annie Annie Over” where two groups of kids on the opposite side threw a ball over the house to the kids on the other side. The goal was to tag the person catching the ball, or catch the ball and tag someone from the opposite side. It is a simple game; one without much pizzazz, but fun none-the-less. In contrast to today’s rapid pace and techy world, kids back then stayed home more and shared hours of creative playtime, be it dress-up, “Kick the Can”, Tag, Hop Scotch, marbles, or Chinese Jump-Rope. Yes, this is the generation that ranked high to smelling the flowers and having neighbors over for Sunday afternoon get-togethers. These happy-go-lucky times are of a simpler world which has nearly passed us by.
With time, we have become more multifaceted beings. Our society has given way to the technical world and the rapid pace of it all, with expectations higher and the competition greater. Our brains have stretched to saturate more and more advanced data of which we strive to understand so that we can function in today’s world. As we are in a progressive generation that requires the mastery of such operandum, we become accustomed to a fast-paced, complicated operational culture.
We all are adjusting to a new normal; one that allows for more pause and breathing space, giving way to waning schedules and tasks mostly limited to home projects. Maybe this is a time for reflection on the lives we live. What would be the silver lining in all this? Maybe there is some benefit to taking a wider lens to a fast-paced lifestyle while also being homebound and forced to live more simply. Could it be that we come to a new truism about the lifestyle we choose once this virus is behind us? While we capture ourselves in an advanced era, maybe we will seek a new balance; one that supports good mental health. Truly, relaxing is a necessary key to reducing our mental health symptoms while also reducing chronic pain and improving your overall physical health. As we have become consumed with the fast pace of this generation, it is doubtful that our kids will learn “Annie Annie Over”. However, possibly we all will come to see that taking a breath, slowing down or just settling is a good thing. Going backwards may help us move forwards.
Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW