Blog Short #23: 5 Things We Can Take Away from the Pandemic

Welcome to Monday Blog Shorts – ideas to make even Monday a good day! Every Monday I share a short article with you about a strategy you can use, or new facts or info that informs you, or a new idea that inspires you . My wish is to give you something to think about in the week ahead. Let’s dig in!

Today’s blog is more of a thought piece than my regular information or “how to” blog. I’ll return to that format next week. Hopefully today’s subject will resonate with you and stimulate some thoughts and ideas.

The subject is COVID, however, not so much the virus itself, but the effects of this last year on all of us, and where we go from here. More specifically,

What have we learned from this experience that we can use going forward?

By the way, this isn’t about politics or world problems. It’s just about us.

Quarantine

Somewhere during this past year, you experienced some quarantine or lockdown time, and likely quite a bit. Depending on where you live, and who’s in charge, and what your level of fear has been, you’ve had to stay home much more than usual. If you’re like me, you’re still staying home to a large degree.

This has been a big adjustment for most of us. It’s meant being in your house or apartment all the time, possibly working from home or not being able to work at all. It’s also meant being in constant contact with your immediate family without breaks that are normally provided by school, work and extra-curricular activities. It’s likely meant cooking more unless you ordered in a lot, and unfortunately for many of us, eating more!

Maybe you did puzzles, watched more Netflix, embarked on some home improvement projects, and did your best to get your kids through online school. Maybe you got sick and survived, and sadly, maybe even lost someone or knew someone that didn’t survive.

It’s been stressful, and for each of us the stress is different depending on our circumstances and our personalities. Introverts who like to self-entertain were more likely to enjoy the time at home whereas extroverts found it taxing and boring.

The Good

There is a silver lining, and this is what I want to highlight today. We may not see all of it completely until we’re well out of the pandemic and can look at it in hindsight, but there are some things I’ve noticed already and thought about that I’ll share with you. I think it’s good to process what we’ve learned and are still learning as we go through this time. Here’s my insights, and hopefully they resonate with your experience too.

#1 Moving inward.

We’ve had to become more internal. That means being more reflective, more aware of our thoughts and feelings, and quieter. Without the distractions of activity we usually engage in outside the house, there’s been no choice but to move inward.

Whether it’s been comfortable or not, it’s a good thing. It’s allowed us to commune with ourselves and get in touch with what’s important, and what we value. It’s reminded us of who we really are and what we aspire to. It’s also brought to the forefront what needs attention that we should address.

#2 Confronting mortality.

Because we’re in a pandemic, and people have died, our mortality has been brought to the front burner. For me, it’s resulted in thinking a lot about my life span, and how long I have, and what I should do with that time. In those mental meanderings, I’ve questioned what’s really important, and based on the answers, asked myself how to change what I’m doing now to pursue those things more diligently. In general, it’s reminded us all that we can’t take life for granted.

#3 Spotlight on relationships.

Being quarantined has put a spotlight on our intimate relationships. For some it’s highlighted the pleasure in having more time with those we love, and brought us closer. For others, it’s highlighted problem areas that need repairing or change.

It’s also opened up other means of being together. It’s too bad we didn’t all have stock holdings in Zoom, because certainly it’s been a good year for them and we would be rich by now! I’m funning a bit here, but truly, online communication has become a necessary means of staying in contact with those with whom we couldn’t see face-to-face.

In some cases, families and friends have had more contact than they normally do through online methods, partly because there’s more time for it, and partly because it feels more important and necessary to be with each other.

For some, relationships have deepened and grown, and for other’s it’s signaled a need to shift away. Either way, we’ve had to attend to them.

#4 Boredom and creativity.

You have to be creative to cook this much, or help kids with online school, or quell your boredom, or deal with more people in the house at one time. It’s amazing what we can do when we have too, and interesting to see that when we’re placed in a position to come up with new strategies or new activities, we do it. It’s been good to exercise our imaginations, entertain ourselves, and make things work without outside activities. The art of creative boredom is a great skill!

#5 Gratitude and appreciation.

What’s the saying? “You don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone?” (From one of Joni Mitchell’s songs.)

  • Simple pleasures like going to the grocery store without trying to breathe through a mask.
  • Going out to dinner.
  • Having get togethers at someone’s house.
  • Traveling or vacationing.

I know that some people did some of these things anyway, but not always with great results. Regardless, a grayness has hung over us as we waited and waited for some break in the news that would tell us we have an end in sight. I don’t think anyone thought the pandemic would go on for this long.

Yet, there’s so much we can appreciate and be grateful for. For each of us, it’s personal. There are small things and small wins and small lessons that we’ve experienced, some of which I’ve mentioned above, and some that pertain just to you. You know what these are and it’s good to remind yourself of them.

Moving Forward

As we get on top of the pandemic, and things go back to “normal,” I wonder what we’ll remember and use when we return to our busy, rather frenetic lives.

Americans love busy. We’re a bit manic, and love to be active. We’re doers, and as a group, we seek outside stimulation.

Personally, I think we go too far in this respect. A better approach is a balance between the internal and the external. Reflection, downtime, staying put in one place for a while, dealing with boredom, being creative, and paying attention to relationships are invaluable and important aspects of living. Knowing yourself, and just being is as important (and maybe more) as doing and accomplishing.

My hope for all of us is that we’ve gained some permanent insight into the need for self-reflection, thinking, contemplating, and just being. If we do, I think our achievements and accomplishments will be greater, and certainly also our peace of mind.

Last Note

To any of you who lost someone in this past year to COVID, my heart goes out to you. I wish you consolation as you grieve, and hope that you find solace in time.

Until next week . .

All my best,

Barbara

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