What’s the question you ask most often these days? If you’re like me, and many other boomers, it’s probably: “How are you doing during the …?” And you can fill in the blank with your choice of favorite words: pandemic, shutdown, quarantine, lockdown, terrible times, challenging times, etc.
Yes, everybody shows their concern about others’ physical and mental health with these inquiries. Unfortunately, on the receiving end we don’t really think much about our replies, often just answering, “We’re doing fine, how about you?” Or maybe it’s more fatalistic: “I can’t believe this is happening, this is the worst time of my life!”
I’ve listened to a couple of podcasts recently that talk a lot about the power of words. In fact, what we say can actually shape our reality. And the questions we ask can either deepen a relationship with another person, or just suffice to fill in empty space.
Here are some great questions I came across recently that can help start meaningful conversations. (My answers are in italics.) Try them out on your family, friends, or co-workers, then listen carefully for answers so you can ask even more thoughtful follow-up questions.
1) How are you taking care of yourself today?
I’m eating lots more fruits and vegetables (especially salads) and allowing myself to sleep an extra 45 minutes each morning.
2) What part of your shelter-in-place residence have you come to appreciate the most?
Zoom! I love being able to still see people online. And I’m thrilled to have moved my exercise class for older adults to a twice-weekly Zoom meeting. My 70- and 80-year olds have embraced the technology, and I love seeing them!
3) What surprising thing have you been stocking up on (that isn’t toilet paper)?
My vegan coffee creamer, NutPods. I love my morning coffee, and this product whitens it up perfectly, but I can’t always find it at my store.
4) What’s the last thing you experienced that made you laugh, or cry?
Playing with my grandchildren always leads to a smile and laughter!
5) What habit have you started, or broken, during the quarantine?
The quarantine coincided with longer days, so I’m walking 30 – 45 minutes each evening after dinner.
6) Which specific place in your neighborhood are you most looking forward to visiting once this is all over?
Our local parks with the grandchildren!
7) What’s the easiest part about the quarantine?
My Juice Plus+ business. So much of this was already online–I just keep reaching out to people and sharing the product and opportunity.
8) What are some things you have realized that you don’t really need?
I don’t need to meet people at Starbucks for a conversation (Zoom is an acceptable substitute). I’m saving a little money on coffee and gas, but I do definitely miss seeing others in person!
9) What’s something that you miss that surprises you?
Hugs! I’m Italian, what more do I need to say?
10) What do you hope we all learn or take away from this experience?
The health professional in me hopes people realize the importance of prevention. That is, always eating well, always exercising, always getting enough sleep and managing stress. Your body is designed to cope with attacks from the outside world, but you have to honor it and provide the tools it needs to protect you–on a regular basis.