Summertime usually sees a lot of folks out and about, but this summer has been a little different.
For instance, I love to sit in the stands at McMahon Stadium on a hot August afternoon with a buddy as we take in a football game. I’m a Stampeders season ticket holder, so I’ve come to know the characters in the surrounding seats as well. A lot of friendly ribbing goes on when the Saskatchewan Roughriders or B.C. Lions are in town, as many of the guys in my section are transplants from neighbouring provinces. I’m missing that ritual this summer.
I’m not the only one. I hear folks talk about missing out on their favourite vacation spots, and how they miss sitting back and chatting with other folks who share those vacation spots. Their kids miss playing or hanging out with the other kids that they only get to see during their summer breaks.
Something as simple as going out to your favourite restaurant is out of the question for some folks who are still nervous about the potential of contracting COVID-19. They miss the hostess or the server who always talks them into the dessert that they really shouldn’t have but are silently grateful for after they were convinced indulge.
Backyard barbecues with friends and neighbours are far less frequent this summer. Usually, the air would be filled with laughter on a Friday or Saturday night. But this summer has been eerily quiet. There are not a lot of house parties going on either.
Kids are more restless these days. Many look forward to summer camps, the majority of which have been cancelled. Dance classes, music classes, sports camps and many other forms of physical activity have been stolen from them this summer. Many haven’t seen any of their friends since they left school back in March.
Even work, for some, doesn’t seem to be as fulfilling these days. For those that haven’t been able to work, it’s more than finances that have them experiencing anxiety. They miss the Monday morning conversations by the water cooler about what everyone did on the weekend. They miss bragging about their children or grandchildren with others in the office who are just as proud of their own clan.
In reality, it’s not the activities we miss. We can still work. We can still play. There’s nothing stopping us from eating a great meal at home or firing up our barbecue in the backyard. What we truly miss is connection with other people. Suddenly, all of our favourite things to do and favourite places to go don’t seem as appealing, because we can’t do it with our favourite people. Nothing seems as rewarding when we can't share it.
I encourage you to do the next best thing. Pick up a phone and call a buddy. You can chat while watching a hockey game on television. Chat with a girlfriend on the phone while enjoying a nice glass of wine. A message on social media or a text won’t suffice – we need to interact and experience emotion via actual human contact, even if it’s limited to using our voices. Try to find activities that allow you to socially distance while still enjoying each other’s company. It’s important for our mental wellness to continue to interact as much as possible. It’s never been more important than now.