People limited who they saw, how many people they saw, how often they left their homes and the world slowed down significantly.
Over a year later and things seem to be slowly heading in a healthier direction. But in that time there were families that literally stayed apart for months or even more than a year. Grandparents didn't see or hug their grandchildren and some didn't even get to meet their new grandbabies for many months after they were born.
Gyms were closed. Parks and playground were closed. Anxiety skyrocketed - of course it did! We were literally trying an experiment out on almost the entire world's population, an unprecedented event in all of humanity's existence.
Look at that graphic above. Look at what promotes each of those happiness hormones. These are the ones that jump out at me: socializing, physical touch, and helping others (oxytocin), sun exposure and nature walks (serotonin), exercise and laughing (endorphins), achieving a goal and getting enough sleep (dopamine).
Considering the restrictions that were put upon people and the habits that emerged, it is safe to say that a large part of our population has been deprived of their fair share of these "happiness hormones".
In essence, the last year of pandemic has taken its toll on me, and even now whenever I put on a mask, read the social distancing signs in these establishments, or listen to reminders on the radio to be safe, I become depressed or angry.
But here’s the strange thing. This past week I finally decided this reaction is healthy and good, a realization that in turn helped me feel better and more positive.
Let me explain.
If sometime in the past year I had simply woken up one morning, shrugged, and accepted all these restrictions as normal, or even justified, then my acceptance would have meant my surrender. I would have given up. The mask would have become my new norm, and distancing, quarantining books, and sanitizing tables would no longer irritate me, they would instead be mundane acts of everyday life.
So I’ve finally realized my rage and my irritation with these measures means I have not yet given up on common sense or my principles. I still think, and I suspect I will always think, that what we have allowed this pandemic to do to our economy, to the education and health of our young people, to our political system, and to our very humanity far outweighs the number of lives saved by our unique precautions. Readers may disagree, but that is the way I see things.
No, no, NO! It's not normal to be locked down, it's not healthy and we all need to resist the idea and push back against anyone insisting that it *is* or *should* be part of our "new" normal.
It is normal to feel sad and depressed in these circumstances though. Maybe you will get a little bit of relief realizing that it's not you, it's a messed up situation.
And then - go take a walk outside in the sun with your giggling children, stop to hug them, maybe even talk to a neighbor! Get those happiness hormones moving again!