You've probably heard stories about people aching to get outside, go back to work, celebrate with friends. Maybe you've felt those feelings yourself. We are more than just social beings. We are communal beings.
Nobody knows exactly what lies ahead for us with the pandemic. The worse may be over. But the long tail of the pandemic will require a new set of insights and tactics to thrive and feel like we belong.
There's only so much time the body can remain healthy under stressful situations. Eventually, the immune system will be compromised. One of the small stressors is not touching people. Hugs, smiles, joking around all go a long way to helping our bodies and minds sink into ease and peace.
One of the new strategies being circled about is creating cohorts or pods. Schools are talking about 10 children cohorts. And as adults, we should consciously engage in the same behavior. The NY Times suggested this not too long ago as well.
We have to remember that in creating a pod we can't let up on the rest of our hygienic precautions.
Continue to wash your hands for 20 seconds. You heard this a lot in the beginning and now we're hearing less of it. However, it continues to be one of the best defense system we have.
Social distancing. Droplet exposure is still best prevented by staying far enough apart.
Wear masks indoors with others in confined spaces especially in public. This doesn't prevent you from getting sick; however, if you happen to be sick, it keeps you from passing it on to others.
If you are running a fever, have clearly developed a cough, or have other symptoms, stay home.
When we choose people to join with, we want to choose people who are following the same level of precautions that you have chosen. Furthermore, when choosing a pod, you should be aware of who else they are meeting with and how often.
Finally, when we choose the people to join with, they should bring joy to our lives. Remind us of the beauty in the world. And how precious life is for each of us. Even in trying times, heck, most importantly in trying times, it's important to cultivate gratitude, joy, and peace. When we do so, we naturally radiate it to those we share our smiles with.
Once your pod is chosen, make sure to have some thresholds for reporting symptoms for being sick that may indicate COVID-19. For example, a fever over 101°F, a persistent cough, muscle aches, or just take an online assessment. If someone in your pod passes over this threshold, have a reporting rubric so that all the information is clearly reported. If someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, also make sure you have a plan for the pod. Finally, give your self a trial period of two weeks to adjust to the new situation. And a review of practices after that. If anyone in the pod has children, reexamining the commitment should be done before school starts and understand how the rules of the school will impact the pod.
Once these precautions are established, they can create the mental space necessary to enjoy the pod. Here is where you'll want to learn to smile. Every day. Just practice a little bit. It doesn't need to be ear to ear, but a gentle smile. Let it warm your heart and fill your eyes. Your immunity will thank you.
And so will your pod. Because every smile you share will help relax those you pod with. We can see that community and immunity have a common root. They share a Proto-Indo-European root of *mei-. From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to change, go, move," "with derivatives referring to the exchange of goods and services within a society as regulated by custom or law".
Who we move with (community) and what we move without (immunity) are two sides of the same coin. If we are in health and wellness with others, they will be in health and wellness with us.
So move with a smile on your face and bring it to those you love.