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Boundaries and Personal Spaces

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught me anything, it’s taught me the value and importance of personal space as it pertains to our physical health and well-being. The virus spreads a lot of the time by those who do not even realize that they are contagious. It does not discriminate, and we cannot simply identify who among us has a pre-existing condition that will affect their body’s ability to withstand it if contracted. Nevertheless, the effects can be detrimental to some while others appear to be symptom free.

Although opinions on a resolution may vary, we’ve ultimately learned that sometimes it’s necessary to create distance in order to decrease our chances of being infected as well as infecting others. We’ve also learned that when we do have to engage, certain additional measures are necessary to limit contact and exposure. This overall notion of taking necessary precautions doesn’t just apply to strangers. It also applies to those we may have known all of our lives and had long-standing relationships with. Anyone can be a carrier.

This same analogy is also true for our mental health and well-being. As we normalize and define what mental health awareness is in our own lives, we should be able to recognize that creating distance is often a necessary tool for us to have. Whether that distance is needed from someone or something, it is unique to each of us and often comes with time, self-reflection and growth. It happens whenever it happens. It’s a grieving and healing process that can’t be measured and applied across a broad spectrum. As we set the intent to protect ourselves, it is equally as important to identify that others also need to be protected throughout their own process. It’s not up to us to determine how much personal space someone else needs, or who they feel they may need it from.

Sometimes, people just need distance. Even from me. Even from you too. Even if we don’t understand it or don’t know how, and even with all of our self-righteous and good intentions; we have to learn to respect other people’s boundaries and personal space requirements. As the road to self-care becomes more frequently traveled, we have to be mindful that it’s still a solo trip. Everyone has to find their own way to navigate through it in their own time and comfort zone.

Yours Truly,

Ann O’Neal

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