In times of crisis, like say, a global pandemic, it can be difficult to take a step back and reflect on how things have changed. One thing we should recognize is how much we’ve learned from this challenging time.
With each passing day, it seems like the light at the end of the tunnel seems to be getting bigger and brighter. With talks of reducing lockdown measures, and slowly bringing life back to normal, there's a buzzing anticipation in the air. But before we get there, I think this a good time to look back on our experiences during this wild ride.
Personally, I’ve been taking stock of the lessons I’ve learned these past few weeks. As exhausting and anxiety-inducing this time has been for all of us, it has given us some real opportunities for personal growth.
Below, I’ve laid out 5 life lessons that I have learned during COVID-19. Some are obvious, while others are less so. Either way, I hope that by sharing these lessons with you, we’ll all realize how much we’ve accomplished in this trying time.
Hopefully, we'll be able to remember these lessons and apply them to our lives as we progress into a new normal over the next few months.
1. You’re Never Too Old To Learn Something New
All of a sudden, we’ve got a lot of time on our hands. And while there’s absolutely nothing wrong in taking this extra time to relax and recharge, some of us have learned new skills or revisited some old hobbies.
As it turns out, learning new skills can improve your mental well-being in a variety of ways. Learning something new or exploring hobbies can help boost your self-confidence, raise your self-esteem, and help you build a sense of purpose.
So if you’ve been feeling particularly blah lately, why not try something new? Because let’s be honest, we could all do with a little purpose right now.
While it may seem a little daunting to try something new, what do you have to lose? Here are some simple ideas of new things you can try:
➼ Learn a new recipe
YouTube is full of recipes you can experiment with, and a lot of them have been adapted to the quarantine life. So even if you think you’re missing some key ingredients, look up something new and fun to make!
I personally enjoy cooking a lot, however, due to my schedule, I rarely got the time to do so. I've reached out to my loved ones and shared recipes. This weekend, I made these cheesy chicken stuffed rolls, which was so easy and delicious! Especially if you are fasting for 15 hours.
➼ Take an online course
Online sites like Coursera have a wide variety of courses from universities all over the world. The best part is, many courses are available for free! So what are you waiting for?
Skillshare is also providing a free membership for 2 months!
➼ Rekindle an old hobby or spark a new one
I know hobbies can sometimes come across as static, stable things that you develop in childhood. But you’re never too old to develop a new hobby! Maybe it’s painting, baking, or gardening – whatever it is, pick up something you used to love or try something new! It doesn’t have to be fancy - you can buy painting supplies from the dollar store and order seeds online. Go wild!
2. Social Connections Are Invaluable
It goes without saying - socializing is important. I've talked about the importance of maintaining a social life while social distancing on this blog before. And long story short: you need social support to survive.
As an introvert, I used to think I didn't need social interactions as much as my extroverted peers. Sure, seeing my friends and family on a semi-regular basis and checking in with them via text was important. But I mean, I didn't need social interactions to survive.
Boy, was I wrong. One thing I've learned from this pandemic is how incredibly crucial social connections are for us humans. Besides missing my family and friends, I miss the simple, mundane socializations I would have with random strangers on my way to work, or with my colleagues at the university or at the coffee shop.
Because social support is so closely connected with our mental health, it's no wonder why many of us have been so down in the dumps lately. Loneliness is a significant risk factor for many psychological issues, which gives us even more reason to maintain our social connections while social distancing.
As things progress to a new normal, I am very much looking forward to these small interactions with random people in my day to day routine.
3. Gratitude For The Little Things
It's easy to say "be more grateful". But it is so much harder to actually be grateful on a daily basis.
There are the big things that we are all grateful for on a regular basis, like a job, our family and a roof over our heads. But noticing and being grateful for the smaller things is something I have had to practice overtime.
Being able to step outside of your home for a nice, relaxing walk, hugging your friends without a second thought, travelling for a vacation – these small things we didn’t really think about are what we need to be grateful for.
Again, I know it's easier said than done. But don't just take it from me - research suggests that feeling more grateful and expressing gratitude can actually lead to better mental health.
Being grateful for things when we have them, as opposed to when we’ve lost them, can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. Even now, when things seem pretty bleak and dark, it's still possible to feel gratitude.
Try this: before going to bed, make a list of 3 things for which you're grateful. You can even start by writing down 1 thing and notice how you start feeling in 2-3 weeks' time.
Writing out the things you're grateful will help you take stock of the positive in your life. The list can help you reflect on what you have, as opposed to what you don't.
4. We All Need To Do Our Part
Not all of us are qualified to be on the frontlines of a pandemic, but even sitting at home we can do our part. I think it’s normal to feel very small in this huge world of ours. But this pandemic has helped me realize that every individual action, no matter how small, counts.
Resisting the urge to get out of your house, to go hang out with your friends and trying to make sure you're not inadvertently panic-buying groceries - these seemingly small actions can actually have a huge impact on our communities.
Taking it a step further - checking in on our neighbours, donating to local charities, or even buying takeout from local restaurants are all ways we can do our part to help each other.
So instead of feeling small, I've come to understand that we're all actually a part of something a lot bigger. And ok, I know how sappy and off-brand that seems for me. But even scrolling through Instagram and Twitter and seeing all the hilarious, wholesome memes about this wild time makes me feel like we're all in this together.
So yeah, I'm feeling a little sappy.
5. We Need to Slow Down
Perhaps the most crucial lesson I've learned is that we need to slow down. Way down.
Even before the pandemic, many of us would complain about how fast-paced our lives are and how nice it would be if we could just hit PAUSE.
Well, it turns out our world did hit that PAUSE button, and now, here we are. And even though it was difficult to adjust to the abruptness of our lives coming to a screeching halt, I have to admit: it's nice to be able to take it slow.
By slowing down and being more mindful, I’ve actually learned to understand my body better. I always thought that my chronic aches and pains were from the constant commuting, running around and always being on the “go”.
But I haven’t done any of that in the past month, and yet, the aches and pains still remain. It turns out that I have terrible posture while sitting (why am I even surprised?). Taking the time to stretch every night before bed has helped me gain some peace and relaxation from my tensed muscles. It was a miracle that I was finally able to listen to what my body needs.
I'm realizing that it's a huge blessing to be able to slow down and have the rest of the world at this new pace as well. There's a million other things we need to worry about right now. It's nice that there's a little bit less pressure to get things done and go-go-go.
Looking Back While Looking Ahead
With this post, I wanted to write out the thoughts that have been circulating in my head as we all anticipate the beginning of the end of this chapter in our lives.
I hope we remember that learning new things is a lifelong practice, and that our social connections are crucial for our well-being. Being grateful for the big and little things, and doing our part to help the people around us are habits we can try to embody in a non-pandemic world, too.
When all this is over, I hope there'll be a shift in our attitudes. Life doesn't have to be so fast. It's ok to slow down. But I guess, we'll have to wait and see if we remember any of the lessons we've learned.
What's the biggest lesson you've learned during this pandemic?
Let us know by leaving a comment below!
Until next time,