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WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Psychotherapist Dr. Barton Goldsmith shares how his practice and patients are adjusting to work and life in the “new normal.”
Millions of people are now back to work and loving it. Many never stopped and are still working remotely, and others are back at their offices and stores, meeting and serving the public. Even though a number of us are still concerned about the pandemic, we seem to be moving on.
The vaccines helped, and even though only about half of the United States is fully vaccinated, it seems we have opened up but are still encouraging masks and getting vaccinated for those who are avoiding it. The United Kingdom has also recently opened up, but their vaccination rate is higher, at about two-thirds, much closer to the numbers needed for herd immunity, and they feel safe enough.
I am currently seeing fully vaccinated clients in person and others online — and online sessions are not only for the unvaccinated. If they work, they can be a big time saver. I have had a number of clients who prefer a combination of in-person and online sessions, and this combo does seem to work best. So this is my new normal. Each of us has to find our own comfort level.
One of the things I have noticed is that many people who are returning to work are also feeling better about their lives. COVID depressed us all, and doing something normal, even for a few hours a week, lifts your mood. That doesn’t mean you should stop your meds or working on yourself, but a gig could help you feel better more times than not.
Some people can get used to not working. If you were out of work and fortunate enough to get some financial assistance during the pandemic, I strongly urge you to not let that become a lifestyle. Being productive brings a lot more gifts with it than just a paycheck. You can’t buy self-esteem.
We have all made adjustments and in some cases are actually enjoying the changes. For me, it turns out, working from home is more efficient and more productive. I feel like I can put more energy into both my clients and my writing and still have extra time to tend to the roses and to my lovely wife.
I also like hanging out with my animals and not having air-conditioning wars with my building mates or breathing in their cigarette smoke. No, I can no longer walk out of my office, down a flight of stairs, and into my favorite restaurant, but the advantages of a home office outweigh the disadvantages by far, and my wife is a great cook, so no loss there.
I’m seeing more clients and enjoying the interactions, and even though I may be a bit more tired at the end of the day than I would like (or remember being), I am more fulfilled than when I was doing less. Work does satisfy our much needed sense of belonging. Without it, life just doesn’t seem as relevant.
For many people, getting back to life means getting back to work, which makes sense. Most of us have grown closer to our families over the last year — it almost couldn’t be helped — but now it’s time for the kids to be back in school (even remotely) and for us adults to return to as much of our regular work lives as is practical and safe. It just feels healthier.
(Dr. Barton Goldsmith, a psychotherapist in Westlake Village, Calif., is the author of “The Happy Couple: How to Make Happiness a Habit One Little Loving Thing at a Time.”)
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