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Dear Dr. Yael,

Covid-19 has been a nightmare. There has been so much death and sickness as well as many people losing their parnassah. While I cannot say that anything good has come from it, I can say that the slower pace of life is definitely something I have come to appreciate. Before Covid-19 I always felt I was running somewhere. I am, Baruch Hashem, a very busy person and I was always on a “treadmill” and juggling many things. Yes, there is still a lot to juggle at home, but there is something different about the current situation. I am home with the kids alone (my husband is considered an essential worker) and although I do not enjoy being the “assistant teacher,” my kids seem calmer and life is just running at a slower pace. Now that I am off the treadmill, I am wondering if there are psychological benefits to a slower paced life and less pressure on the children. Just a thought and wanted your input.

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Stay safe,
A Fan

 

Dear Fan,

Thank you for your interesting letter. We agree that talking about the “positives” of Covid-19 can be painful and an oxymoron as there really is no silver lining. That being said, you are entitled to share your observations of what is happening in your home and enjoy any positive effects.

Living in NYC and surrounding areas definitely has an element of being very busy. Before Covid-19, most of us were running on the same treadmill. This generation of instant gratification, wanting everything “now!” and equating progress with speed has definitely caused an alarming increase in stress-related disorders. More kids have been struggling with depression, anxiety, obesity, and attentional issues than ever before! Furthermore, it’s a bad cycle as the faster pace of life appears to encourage overstimulation and overscheduling, which then become everyday stressors that lead to behavioral, mood and attention disorders. Most people do not realize that we are causing our physical, emotional and behavioral health problems and generally try harder to go faster. This just exacerbates the problem and many then turn to medication to treat the unexpected ramifications of this fast-paced life. Most of us believe we are supposed to be able to go this fast and that there is something wrong with us if we cannot keep up. Additionally, technology has harmed human relationships. We hardly ever connect with anyone anymore and many who are on their phones a lot end up avoiding direct, person-to-person contact.

Thus, in response to your question, it seems you are correct that a slower pace of life can improve your quality of life. Stepping off the treadmill has given you and your family less stress and more time to bond. Research shows that “slow living” results in better health, less stress, a better quality of relationships, and increased well-being.

You are lucky that you are home and able to be there for your children as many mothers are struggling with working during this difficult time or are having a hard time being there emotionally for their children during this difficult time period. Children who are in a home environment with more stress due to loss of income or the stress of balancing work and home schooling are not faring as well and may have a higher rate of behavioral, mood, and/or attentional disorders. Some children are also being affected by the loss of socialization and/or the loss of loved ones. This is a traumatic time for most of us, but that does not negate the fact that most of us are living a slower paced life. Perhaps we will be able to focus on what matters most and will be closer to bringing the Mashiach!!

Hatzlocha in your slower paced life and please feel free to share with us a follow up response!

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Dr. Yael Respler is a psychotherapist in private practice who provides marital, dating and family counseling. Dr. Respler also deals with problems relating to marital intimacy. Letters may be emailed to deardryael@aol.com. To schedule an appointment, please call 917-751-4887. Dr. Orit Respler-Herman, a child psychologist, co-authors this column and is now in private practice providing complete pychological evaluations as well as child and adolescent therapy. She can be reached at 917-679-1612. Previous columns can be viewed at www.jewishpress.com and archives of Dr. Respler’s radio shows can be found at www.dryaelrespler.com.
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