A little less than one year ago, our world was turned upside down by a silent enemy that entered into our lives and threatened to take away everything we hold dear. We were advised to self-quarantine, shelter in place, social distance and worst of all…not gather to sing together, informed that this was one of the most dangerous actions that could spread this deadly virus. The uncertain times brought an unsettling amount of fear and anxiety unlike most of us had ever experienced.
Our bodies and minds have endured months of chronic stress that have left our nervous systems on high alert. Although we know that it will eventually come to an end, the uncertainty continues to disrupt our neurology leaving us with what we psychologists call “moral distress”; meaning, that we have competing values within ourselves trying to balance our safety, safety of others, self-care, staying calm, coping with sadness, managing loss, feeling comforted, all while being on heightened alert 24/7. It is mentally and physically exhausting.
Most of us are struggling with loss on an unparalleled degree of mass bereavement. Instead of being able to come together to process and heal, we’ve had to stay safely isolated on the other side of a computer screen. Even with loosening restrictions, we are unable to sing together on the risers and feel the comforting healing vibrations of song and energy; a sensation that is difficult to describe, but once you feel it, you know it and you never forget it.
We’ve tried various things to try and replicate these harmonious vibrations through Zoom meetings, FaceTime Calls and other Virtual Chorus projects. And although they quell the longing momentarily, it leaves us yearning for the days where we can physically connect our energies and voices in an explosion of goosebumps, chills, and all the feels that make this hobby our passion.
Strategies to regain equilibrium vary from person-to-person, but understanding what works for you could help provide some relief. Safely talking with friends and family help us to not feel so alone. Movement or exercise is a common intervention that helps calm the nervous system. Combining movement with music and singing helps signal the brain to kick in dopamine that helps soothe or increase the sense of wellness. Truth, music is great medicine.
An often forgotten, but easiest way to rewire the brain is practicing gratitude and kindness. It seems so simple, but when we are bombarded with negative input and uncertainty from so many different directions…especially long-term, our brains will lean toward doom and gloom rather than positivity and light. Just by being human, we are designed to be on guard for danger and prepare for problems in order to maintain our survival. Therefore, positivity does take practice. Starting each morning with one thing you are thankful for and expressing one kind thought or gesture can rewire your cognitive system to lean toward a better sense of well-being.
No matter how turbulent the storm, the sun will shine again. This time has been an incredible time of reflection on what is important and what really matters in life. Kindness, caring, empathy, connection, love, hope, joy are just some of the elements that fill our souls and make us uniquely human. So, until we are able to safely gather together, always remember…We are connected. We are resilient. We are Harmony, Stronger…now more than ever before.
Submitted by Taralee Lashway
President of Northern Blend