By Noah Mugenyi
Can pain be both physical and psychological concurrently?
And if so, to what degree will Covid-19 toll be, in reference to our emotional and psychological wellbeing/needs as we continue on this ‘pandemic path’?
Losses come with lessons and so do changes. Covid-19 has so far proven this point clearly to the world, as each and every one continues practicing and following the life-saving measures; promoting health and preventing more spreading. As the research and hunt for Covid-19 drug continues, social distancing and hygiene practices seem to be the best approach; for prevention is better than cure.
If you asked me to express my take in one word, what Covid-19 has done or meant to me so far, my community, city, Country and humanity at large; from a personal, relational and professional stance? I would boldly say ‘exposure’. And here is why?
The pandemic (Novel Coronavirus/Covid-19), has really exposed it all! From “inside-out’’ and who knew that; our systems needed improvements and in some cases an overhaul? Even for a giant lion (king of the jungle), when unaware or caught off-guard of the danger ahead, could be threatened; even though not be killed by the smallest animal such as a squirrel (tinny creature). I my native dialect we simply say, ‘Ekyekango tekimanyi muzila’.
Body, Mind and Spirit in over-drive mode under Covid-19
As it seemed being the case for so many, Covid-19 hit the globe with such a massive blow; which caught even experts in the field of medicine and so-called superpower nations unprepared for the swing. As I watched from my clinical office and later on the news that evening, when our government leadership made the bravest decisions – pressed the pose button and stopped. Shutdown or lockdowns around the world would follow in days ahead. Cities turned into ghost towns as we all watched and listened. Continents apart from my immediate family, I scrambled to connecting and coordinating conversations with family members and friends; which I never anticipated would extend into stretched periods of ‘zooming’ from home; home-schooling of my daughters and above all; catching a breath of rest from the go-go ways of life pre-Covid-19.
Many exposures got revealed as Covid-19 revealed its true colors. Not only the well advanced and sophisticated nations, but also to the most vulnerable and ‘3rd world nations’. As the pandemic continued and continues spreading to this day, responsive measures and protocols have been implemented and will carry on as the ‘new normal’.
Although things may not be the same again, for yesterday or today and tomorrow comes with its new challenges and therefore, new cases of Covid-19.
Levels of government and global health organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), and many others confronted head-on this pandemic. And have continuously shown tremendous efforts in coordinating and disseminating critical information and ongoing updates, since the first traces of the pandemic outbreak in China in late 2019.
In his book titled, the brain’s way of healing, New York Times best seller and author Doctor Norman Doidge; speaks of the body image as being “formed in the mind and is represented in the brain”. Doidge adds that, the brain then is unconsciously projected on to the body. This is what most scientists, especially in neuroscience refer to as the “virtual body”. Both you and me may agree that, indeed the body when in eminent danger or threat will either resort to a fight state, flight or freeze mode; from person to person and situation. One of my mentors and a respected fellow in trauma treatment is Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D and in his book; the body keeps the score, Kolk stresses the motif of the brain, mind and body as being interconnected. In that, they play a healing and recovery role, from trauma exposure or difficult memories. Covid-19 pandemic is ‘traumatic’, its effects and scars will remain to be a world-wide dent; requiring global collaboration, restoration and recovery for years ahead.
What should responsive, adoptive businesses and organizations in a Covid-19 world that we live in be focused? The answer is a none other than ‘people’ rather than fixed assets! And why say so, one may ask?
When speaking or dealing with human-beings, people’s emotions and business, be the employer or employee; both may have to rethink twice as far as next steps are concerned, now and post Covid-19. Either it’s a starting business or a well-established organization, and any stakeholders involved; from the essential cleaning staff to the CEO and VP. It does not matter who or where on the planet you:
on the very agility (b) adaptive capacity, and (c) emotional wellbeing of their ‘people.’ And this requires people to stay healthy emotionally and physically and more importantly, remain grounded in what I term as a ‘sense of personal spirituality’ in my book – Restored: A journey towards forgiving and healing; which I urge everyone to consider reading during this time. (Amazon)
And I haven’t mentioned of the basic necessities of life and health needs for some or the emotional toll on our family systems; domestic issues and the increasing cases of drug dependency, that are being exacerbated by this pandemic, especially in vulnerable communities and families.
Covid-19 has caused us to have to view our loved ones, neighbors and employees in the most authentic human and holistic way possible; in responding to this most human crisis of our time. Just as it has positively or ‘negatively’ accelerated technological changes in the way we work, connect virtually and the way companies intersect with their employees or customers and investors.
Call to world leaders
And hopefully, leaders and policy makers consider this as an opportunity beyond the pandemic, start or deepen investing in ‘people’ and their wellbeing (Mental health). In other words, a heathy economy, political stability, nurturing education systems and above all; healthcare systems and law enforcement, is dependent on wellbeing and healthy minds (people). This approach will accelerate a data-driven integrated total employee mental health strategy but more so; a healthier tomorrow. Strategic planning for the post pandemic new reality will be a challenge for some, yet an opportunity for all of us in the quest for a ‘healthier world’. Just as the pandemic has forced the swift adoption of remote working technology in service delivery and ongoing research; it is also forcing us to reckon with a total employee experience strategy, that integrates behavioral and physical health along with other skill sets and talent management aspects
Community and world leaders, policy makers and stakeholders from all levels must come together in a more holistic and timely manner, but more importantly; collaborate from multi-systemic approaches, as the battle and fighting this pandemic continues. Known measures and protocols put in place must prevail, in keeping ourselves safe, such as washing of hands with sanitation soap; social distancing, wearing of a face mask and monitoring of any Covid-19 symptoms as outlined by the World Health Organization (WHO).
As we all anticipate and hopefully, a better tomorrow Covid-19 free, how we cope with current and pressing situations, a daily practice towards self-compassion start with self-awareness; followed by a sense of self-care and self-regulation. For someone, this can be the launching pad, starting your day with a reflective prayer, gratitude list, a walk, meditation or a warm bath before breakfast. As a people, let us all be intentional, purposeful creators and contributors to a greater society and humanity. We need, healing, unity and above all, love.
Stay safe, for we are indeed in this together – life.
Noah Mugenyi, M.Div, RP, Speaker/Author
CEO & Clinical Director | Toronto East Psychotherapy & Psych. Services
Mental health Consultation & Advocacy | Trauma/PTSD, Addictions Specialist
Mugenyi Noah. (2019). Restored: A journey towards forgiving and healing. FriesenPress.
Doidge, Norman. (2010). The brain that changes itself : stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science. Carlton North, Vic. :Scribe Publications,
Van der Kolk, B. A. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York: Viking.