Soul. What is it? Though we see it in Facebook memes, sing songs about it, and know we have one, what exactly is it? Merriam-Webster gives this as the first definition of “soul”: the immaterial essence, animating principle, or actuating cause of an individual life

In a word, it’s the part of you that makes you, you. So how does a very real, yet intangible, invisible disease like COVID-19 impact the very real, yet intangible, invisible part of you? And how can you take care of your soul in this season of “new normal” where nothing is as it was when the New Year began?

To answer the first question it seems like we need to reflect on how our time was spent during the quarantine period. Were you able to connect with others while staying apart and socially distant? Did you avail yourself to virtual and digital means of connection? Whether you consider yourself an introvert or an extravert, every soul needs connection. Humans were never meant to live in social isolation. Your soul needs to encounter other souls in order to stay fulfilled and to thrive. Now that states are reopening and people are returning to some normal patterns of everyday life, perhaps it would be wise to take stock of social interactions in your life. Which relationships give you joy and feed your soul? How can you safely make those connections during this time and in the weeks and months to come? Make a plan to connect with people you love. Your soul needs it.

When speaking of the soul, there is also usually a link to that which is considered sacred. When dealing with the sacred, our thoughts usually turn to faith. A common tenet of many faiths is gratitude. What role does gratitude have in the care of your soul as we recover from a worldwide pandemic? For some gratitude might mean they were able to continue to put food on the table during the quarantine. For others it might mean that they didn’t die from the contagion. And yet others might find that they enjoyed unhurried hours at home to spend with children and spouses. No matter your experience during the shutdown period, when you reflect on the last few months what things can you name that make you feel grateful that they were part of your experience? Go one step further and write them down. There is something physical that happens when your hand engages with your brain to create an indelible written statement. Naming these blessings will produce nourishment for your soul.

During the weeks when our lives slowed down we watched winter turn into spring. Now as we emerge from the quarantine, we see summer arrive. Summer brings with it beauty! Seeds that were planted in the early spring are now coming into bloom. Fruits and vegetables are beginning to grow and bear fruit themselves. Long, warm days bring more light into our lives in the most literal sense! Beauty surrounds us from dawn to dusk when the fireflies begin their nightly show. What does this mean for a soul in need of healing? Get outside and soak up the beauty around you. Eat a meal outside. Cut a bouquet of flowers to grace the table. Cut a watermelon and let the juice dribble down your chin. Or better yet snap a picture of a toddler eating watermelon for the first time. Embrace the bold colors, the bright flavors and the beauty that summer offers. We have been inside too long, come out and feed your soul.

Connection, gratitude and beauty may sound like simple concepts as means to feed our souls, but sometimes the basics are what really sustain people through difficult times. The past few months have been difficult. The effects will likely follow us for a long while. In the meantime, pay attention to that which makes you distinct and unique. Give your soul the care it needs.  After all, good soul care is the same as good self care.