Harness the Current

Access Continuum’s Leadership Model for leading through novel unknowns

Continuum Consulting Services LLC

Connecting with people we love and care about via Zoom no longer has the same allure as it did in March when many of us enjoyed the novelty of hosting virtual family check-ins and coffee dates with friends.

As the pandemic drones on, so does the increase in depression, anxiety, loneliness and a whole host of other mental health issues. It turns out that our need for physical touch and meaningful, face-to-face human interaction is paramount to our ability to be resilient and maintain our mental stability.

Yet, we know that the best way to stay safe is to sequester, limit interactions, wear our masks and stay six feet apart. How might we balance what is best for our physical health with what we need to support our mental well-being where human connection and relationships are key?

Beautiful Bubbles

One solution to the dilemma of our time is to create intentional relationship bubbles, where a small group of people, or families, commit to sharing a “Bubble” where they can interact together with freedom. This can be a tricky proposition that requires a lot of trust, communication and specific agreements that people make with each other, but it might be worth it for you.

Bubble Guidance

Once you commit to forming a Bubble, you are not only responsible for yourself; you are also responsible for the health and wellbeing of everyone who joins you. During my  twenty-five years as a consultant who works with building high functioning teams, we have found that co-creating team agreements is foundational to strong teams. I applied these same principles with my bubble-mates, and so we created our own team agreements.

Here’s what we have found are good COVID Bubble Agreements:

  1. Adhere to safety guidance when not with bubble-mates: Wash Hands, wear masks and maintain the six-feet-apart distancing.
  2. Not feeling well or have had a potential exposure: Stay home and stay connected electronically.
  3. Mind your focus: It is not always easy to stay positive and hopeful, and that can impact others. Consciously shift your focus from what you do not like, and what is not working in the world, and instead practice gratitude and focusing on the good.
  4. Be available to each other: We are in each other’s care – these are tough times, and it is likely we will all experience break downs along the way -.We need our bubble mates.
  5. Have fun! Any good facilitator knows you always add this to the end of your agreements. It is important to find ways to play, laugh and have fun together.

The New York Times has shared some excellent guidance you might find helpful in their article on the “Do’s and Don’ts of Quarantine Pods.”

Some Creative Bubbles

As an extrovert, my life and home is usually filled with friends and family. My house is lovingly referred to as the “Dew Drop Inn.” The COVID quarantine has been a real challenge, and I knew that as a single woman, living alone now that my children are out on their own, I needed companionship. So, in May, I hopped on the puppy bandwagon and adopted Shanti, a bernadoodle. Dogs are great companions and give a lot of love, but that was not enough.

So, I figured that it could be an interesting time to go on to see what dating would be like during a pandemic. It’s interesting. It is a lot like dating back in the day when you and your date would sit on the back porch, six feet apart, and talk for hours. You have to really think about even holding hands, or that first kiss, because of the risk of infection. Within 48 hours online, I had met someone and we are now having a blast forming our own bubble and inviting a few friends to join in. I am finding it a very good way to manage COVID times!

Debbie lives in Santa Fe and has a business called “I Can Do That.” She provides such services as driving people to the airport, shuttling others to doctor appointments, or assisting people in care of aging parents. Deb also suffers from fibromyalgia and is considered high risk herself. I shared the idea about bubbles with her, which inspired her to form her own group with two of her clients who had become friends. One was undergoing cancer treatments and another had just lost his partner. She reached out with the idea, they talked about the agreements that would be needed between them, and now three people have formed their own caring community. They check in on each other regularly and get together for lunch every Sunday.

Families with children are choosing to form bubbles with extended family members, with close long-term family friends, or with their kids’ friends and families from school or nearby neighborhoods.  One friend assured me that creating a bubble with two families from their cul de sac had brought her son out of a depression and also probably saved her marriage.

In work settings, we are seeing organizations form virtual bubbles, or affinity groups, connecting team members who are sharing common challenges like working from home while parenting young children, or working from home and teaching school age kids.

Build Your Own

We need each other now more than ever. All over the world, we are in this together. It is almost certain that what you are feeling and experiencing is being felt by others, too.

My wish is that you find a way to build your own beautiful bubble. Stay safe, share your love, and we will get through this time together, hopefully, building stronger friendships and communities along the way!

Special thank you to Eleatta Diver for her beautiful artwork.

Wendy B. White is co-founder and partner with Continuum Consulting Services. She recently launched “Let’s Choose Love,” a social movement that provides a forum for sharing ideas, resources, new philosophies and stories that she hopes will challenge, stretch and inspire us to expand our thinking and possibilities for the future.