• Megan Baldwin, LMSW

Social Health in a Time of Social Distance

Disclaimer: I was working on this project months before I even knew what COVID-19 was, what it was going to do to our world, and how it would change the way we interact with people. Someone asked me the other day if I had specifically designed this program for what is going on with the pandemic, and the honest-to-goodness, hand-on-the-Bible truth is, no. I wasn't even planning on presenting this information as it's own content. In fact, I was writing it as a collaborative effort for a friend and colleague to use in a coaching program that he was designing. But it felt good, it spoke to not only my interests and values, but my heart as well. Plus, it gave me something to do that made me feel like I was giving back and using the skills I spent a lot of student loans on to obtain.

In all seriousness though, I wanted to use this opportunity to find my voice. I wanted to lend my professional experience as a social worker, and my individual life experiences as a person who values people and community, to contribute to the holistic health work that my friend is doing, because he is putting A LOT of good vibes into the universe and blessing loads of people. Fast forward a few months into the researching and writing process, and I was having a blast. This creative outlet was bringing so many fun things out of my brain that I didn't always know where to stop. I saw "social health concepts" in every situation I was in and I found myself subconsciously studying the people around me (don't worry friends & family, I haven't written anything about any of you). I finished the work for that project and felt accomplished. I felt like I had made a teeny tiny mark in the world and I felt good about it. Then all of a sudden, everywhere I went, everything I heard on the news or radio, everything I saw online presented the exact opposite of what I was working on: "social distancing," the antithesis of community. And I found myself wondering, if maybe, this was the time to put myself out there with this concept/venture of my own and to share my voice and perspective on social health, relationships and how they impact our everyday lives.

I wondered if now was the time to not just use my voice and my experiences to try to help others gain insight into their own social health, but to use this as platform to have open and honest conversations with people about their perspectives and to learn from them. I genuinely love the entire process of getting to know people (which feels odd to say, as I am a self-proclaimed introvert and "hater-of-small-talk" but more to come on that later). I often find myself reflecting on these conversations about differing views of community and connection with family and friends. Today, I find myself wondering (and let's be honest, worrying) a lot more. I wonder what will happen tomorrow, if we have enough groceries to survive the next few weeks, I wonder if I'm connecting enough with the people in my life through all of this, I wonder what I could be doing more of or doing better to serve those around me in the healthcare industry that are sacrificing their time and health for the survival of all of us. But mostly, right now, I wonder if this is just the right time to discuss how important relationships and communities are for each one of us, and try to work together to gain insight and strategies to make each day a little easier and a little brighter, knowing that we are not alone.

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