S3-EP18: Deer Isle’s Rene Colson Hudson on Fighting Pandemic Fatigue By Helping Others
Debbie talks to Deer Isle, Maine community leader Rene Colson Hudson about the pandemic fatigue many of us are feeling even as we are celebrating readily available vaccines.
Today, Debbie Weil talks to Rene Colson Hudson, executive director of the Healthy Island Project on Deer Isle, Maine. The two of them delve into something that many people appear to be grappling with right now: pandemic fatigue. Debbie recently asked the question on her Facebook page: “Are you suffering from pandemic fatigue?” She was surprised by the several dozen responses she got saying, “Why, yes, I am!” Which got her to thinking. Even with vaccines becoming readily available for anyone of any age, in many states – a cause for celebration – it seems that many continue to feel weary and depleted by this long year and the sameness of our days.
That includes Debbie (who also admits that she is suffering from crankiness and impatience). So she went looking for a little pep talk. Rene has been at the center of COVID relief efforts on Deer Isle over the past 12 months, overseeing a lunch and dinner program that serves over 100 elderly residents every week. The Healthy Island Project is a nonprofit that focuses on improving community health and that brings together a cross section of Stonington / Deer Isle, Maine residents. The organization has grown fivefold since the beginning of the pandemic. Money has come pouring in from supporters, Rene told Debbie, and she is busier than ever.
Rene moved full-time from New Jersey to Deer Isle five years ago. She is an ordained minister and has studied leadership and contemplative practices. And she offers both a practical and a soulful approach to thinking about pandemic fatigue. She reminds us to be more mindful of the little things, to practice gratitude, and to find ways to help others. As an example, the Healthy Island Project put Debbie in touch with an elderly gentleman who, without an Internet connection or a computer, needed help making a vaccine appointment. He and Debbie became phone buddies. She and Rene reflect on how gratifying such a small act can be.
What they talked about:
- Rene’s definition of pandemic fatigue: she emphasizes the word “sameness”
- Why there is a strong sense of fatigue now, even as things are starting to look up
- What Rene misses most about traveling
- How Rene sees pandemic fatigue in the community: the toll it’s taking on high schoolers and on elderly residents
- The importance of awareness and mindfulness of the little things
- The practice of gratitude and the adventure of going nowhere
- Rene’s antidote to pandemic fatigue: serving others
Mentioned in this episode or useful:
- Rene Colson Hudson
- Healthy Island Project | A nonprofit enhancing the health of Deer Isle
- Deer Isle, Maine
- It’s not just you: why everyone is super exhausted right now by Nicole Karlis (Salon, March 18, 2021)
- Pico Iyer: The Art of Stillness (TED Talk)
- How to Write a Gratitude Letter (New York Times, Feb. 27, 2021)
- 14 Fixes for Pandemic Monotony (The Atlantic, Feb. 24, 2021)
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