Pandemic Lessons Learned

Photo by Pâmela Lima on Unsplash

The world has changed. This pandemic has fundamentally altered the lives of every human being on the planet. Every story is different and every experience unique, but one thing can not be argued — it has drastically affected us all. These are just a few life lessons learned that have taken on a newfound significance since this all began.

Changing Our Mindset Is Essential

It is a natural human instinct to focus on the bad as a means of survival. In order to avoid potentially dangerous situations, our brains are wired to assess any possible problems. In this insane time that we are living in, it is that much harder to avoid the negative. The daily news serving as a constant reminder of the new reality we are facing and how it is here for the long haul. It is that much more vital for us to compartmentalize the terrors that are happening around us and attempt to highlight the positives wherever we can. John Krasinski did a brilliant job of this with his show Some Good News, shedding some much-needed light on the wonderful moments happening even in the darkest of times.

Changing our mindset from the narrow tunnel headed straight to negative town to the open road of positive possibilities is essential especially now. Of course, it is important to plan for the ‘just in case’ scenarios, but just as important is to recognize and celebrate when things go well even when seemingly uneventful.

Granted it is easier said than done but as a little experiment, the next time you find yourself venting about all that is going wrong, try to flip your own switch and force yourself to name the same amount of positive things that have also happened. Even the smallest wins can count and send that much needed serotonin boost to your brain.

Relationships Are Work

Whether you are living on top of one another, separated by COVID, or on your own and dealing with your own bag of goodies that is yourself; relationships are work. This pandemic has brought out the good, the bad, and the ugly parts in a lot of people. They say you never know how strong your relationship is until it is tested, and this pandemic certainly has done that for many. I have seen couples, families, and individuals thrive and fall apart during this time, and the one thing that has been blatantly apparent in all their situations: relationships are work.

If you are in a couple you may have the stresses of both working from home for the first time, or the pressure of unemployment and financial insecurity. You could have the constant strain of not having any personal space or the heartache of being apart from the one you love. Families are dealing with homeschooling children and the loss of activities with the essential social development that comes with them. The dynamics of the home have shifted as a result of the ‘new normal’ forcing families to reevaluate what works for them. Then there are those on their own, no longer able to have the necessary human connection met through friends and family get-togethers pushing them to look within more than ever before.

The one thing I have seen work to brighten these times is recognition of the love you have for one another and for yourself. Celebrate that love in any form you can, as much as you possibly can. Whether that be a new weekly date night tradition, a family ritual that brings laughter to the kitchen table, or a self-improvement journey that has been long overdue; finding the time to take in what you have and appreciate it can be the exact fix you needed.

Finding Hobbies are Key

With the days blending into one another, finding things that give you joy is essential even just at that moment. The trends of cooking, baking, art projects, dances, and everything in between have come as no surprise. What is the phrase? “Idle hands are the devil’s playground?” Staying busy and entertained is the best medicine to combat the anxiety, potential depression, or cabin fever that this pandemic may be inflicting.

It has been a beautiful thing to witness the creative efforts explored by people at this time. Sharing these unique gifts and talents with those around them or even publicly, not only gives one a sense a purpose and accomplishment but it has an incredible ‘pay it forward’ effect on those that are inspired and touched by it.

Whatever your thing might be, embrace it to the fullest. Pick up that unread novel, start that painting, hike that hill, master that recipe, or finish that chapter. Do what you can to keep your mind nimble and your idle hands busy — your future self will thank you.

Need for Balance

Whether it be your work-life balance, family-self balance, news-no news balance, or indulging-staying healthy balance; it is critically important during these times to tip the scales in your favor by keeping them balanced. When the world around us is so unpredictable and chaotic it is very easy to fall into the trap of focusing solely on what we can control, and as an accidental default become obsessive. Work can be an incredible distraction but if it succeeds at the sacrifice of our family life or social/emotional well being it will have been for not. This is true for all aspects of one’s life.

Everything in moderation is a motto that often gets brushed aside in place of quick fixes and extreme ends of a spectrum, but it should be placed at the forefront. During this time especially, check-in with yourself and evaluate where your time, efforts, and thoughts have been. Is one aspect of your life dominating the others? If so, is that helping or hindering the others to flourish? By checking our settings and adjusting as needed, we can all get back to the center.

Forgiveness and Acceptance

This has been quite a year and the sooner you forgive yourself for not doing this or not doing that, the better. We must all accept it for what it is and stop thinking of the coulda woulda shoulda and focus on the can, will, and are. We will all be in a much better place in order to face what is and what will be. This year has highlighted the extreme divisiveness and injustices that have been prevalent for far too long. In order to move forward, acceptance is the first step. Accept that what has happened has happened, what was said was said, and what you can control is, not other’s actions, but only your own reaction.

The golden saying of ‘life is short’ has never rung so true. When we are separated from one another by a virus it is that much more important to not let petty differences or self-indulgent sentiments dictate our relationships and tear us apart. This is the moment we need to come together, forgive one another and ourselves, and look toward a better and brighter future. So call that family member that was on the other side of the aisle, text that friend that it has been way too long, and give yourself a big old hug for making it this far.

In Summary

Just as the phoenix from the flames, the world will get through this, and hopefully with a bit of luck we will all come out the other side with a better mindset, more love in our hearts, more talent in our hands, more balance in our lives, and be more open and ready for the possibilities to come.

“I like getting older. I feel like I’m finally aging into my personality.” -Nick Miller, New Girl

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