We’re all back in school, full time and in-person. With the pandemic still looming, one might expect to be greeted by a beleaguered staff and student body.
To the contrary, by all reports, a more powerful, uplifting force has prevailed throughout our programs. Being together in person has been joyous and healing.
I recently came across an online interview of Dr. Vivek Murthy, the United States Surgeon General. He was speaking of his acclaimed book, Together: The Healing Power of Human Connection in a Sometimes Lonely World. He spoke of the negative impact that loneliness has on our health and general well-being, and he contrasted this with the healing power of connection.
Loneliness can cause deep pain. It can increase the risk of heart disease, anxiety, depression, and sleep disturbances. People can feel lonely – even when others are around them – if they don’t feel they can be themselves or if they feel misunderstood. They can feel disliked, broken and shamed. (Loneliness is different from solitude, which Murthy described as a state of peaceful aloneness that we all need.)
Strong social connection, Murthy goes on to say, leads to healthier, more fulfilling lives – as well as better performance in school and at work.
This past 18 months has generated feelings of loneliness as people were confined to their homes. This is why, when our school communities each came together this fall, there was a collective feeling of relief among students and staff in being together (albeit while still masked and social distancing). Since our schools have always fostered a close sense of community, they were naturally positioned to turn that togetherness into true connectedness. Hence, the joy.
This pandemic has placed so many burdens on our lives. It is restorative to pause and to celebrate the ways in which our schools are caring communities that are bringing us back together and, in the process, lifting our spirits.