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One of the many lessons we can learn from COVID is the importance of social interaction. Our resilience, our ability to deal with stress, our sense of well-being is negatively affected when we feel isolated. This is true for everyone from infants to the elderly. While we cannot simply wish away the pandemic, we can find ways to focus on our response to the situation.

This does not mean pretending everything is OK. Rather, take a moment each day to recognize and name how you are feeling. Then think of a few things you are thankful for. If you can only think of one, that’s fine. Write it down somewhere you can refer to later. Some people use a gratitude journal. That’s great and for some, the beautiful journal helps elevate this exercise. I just use the back of an envelope. It doesn’t really matter, but just write it down.

The next day do the same exercise. Use the same journal, sheet of paper or envelope to write down what you’re grateful for right now. If you don’t have anything new to add, just read what you already wrote. There will be days where you need to be reminded. There will be other days you will add to your list. Both are valuable. There will be days you forget to do this, and that is fine also—no judgements.

For those of you who are parents, I know the idea of adding a task, even if it only takes a minute, seems impossible. But remember, “Put on your own oxygen mask first and then assist others.” Taking one or two minutes to think about what you are grateful for will enhance your interactions with your children.

Once you have tried this a few times, do it with your children.

  • If you have an infant or a child who is non-verbal, sit them on your lap and tell them what you are grateful for.
  • If your child is verbal, have them start a list.
  • If you have a preschooler, invite them to draw a social story or visual to represent what they are thankful for.
  • If they can write, they can make their own list. Again, the goal is not to make an exhaustive list, but make it a daily practice (or as close to daily as you can).

We may not be able to be around friends or family members during this time, but we can still be grateful for the phone calls and virtual interactions with them. We don’t have to wait for the time we are able to hug loved ones again to remember what gratitude is, but when that time comes, we will not take it for granted.

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