After almost 1.5 years in the COVID-19 pandemic, we are slowly beginning to see signs of pre-pandemic life. More and more people are returning to public facilities, and many students will go back to a fully in-person school experience this fall. It seems as if a dark chapter of our lives is ending, giving way to a much brighter future. But as we begin to put the pandemic in the past, it is essential that we still hold on to the lessons we learned from this time. We experienced tremendous hardship, but with this also came tremendous change and growth for all of us. Here are 10 lessons to take away from the pandemic:
1. Live in the Moment
When we were stuck in lockdown, it was extremely hard to focus on enjoying the present moment. The past was full of so many happy memories, and it was hard to process that it would be a very long time before we could create them again. Our time in isolation showed us how much we took normal life for granted. We began to see daily activities like school and runs to the grocery store as something special, rather than just another errand on the to-do list.
Now that we're finally able to get a taste of “normal” experiences again, try to make the most out of every laugh and conversation and moment not in isolation because there is no way of knowing when the next one will be.
2. Appreciate Change
There is no doubt that the pandemic has permanently altered our lives. But in some ways, this change has been positive. On a global level, there has been a surge in activism, especially by young people. Long ignored issues are finally becoming part of conversations, and governments, organizations, and schools are all working to create safer and more equitable environments for everyone.
On a more personal level, we have been forced to make modifications to our daily routines, some of which may continue to benefit us even after life eases back to normal. We were thrust into an impossible, unprecedented situation but managed to find the incredible strength to push through all the pain and fear. We are now more resilient and prepared for whatever challenges post-pandemic life holds.
3. Focus on the Positive
Many of us felt overwhelmed by the constant negative news and never-ending time in isolation. It can be extremely challenging to stay optimistic when the world around us is filled with immense fear, loss, and uncertainty, but even in the most difficult of times, there is still hope. Every day, we are getting closer to fully reopening, and there will come a time when we can safely return to the activities of pre-pandemic life. Until then, try to be grateful for all the positive things in your life, no matter how small they may seem.
4. Cherish the Little Things
The pandemic as a whole has been a mess of grief and fear, but hidden in all of this negativity are hidden moments of joy. We can't enjoy big, extravagant events anymore, but we can enjoy all the daily occurrences that we once took for granted. Cherish the additional time with family, delicious meals, long walks in nature, and everything else that fills life with happiness.
5. Appreciate Time with Family
These past months in lockdown have allowed us to spend more time than ever before with our families. Before the pandemic, all of our lives were jam-packed with school or work. We spent almost the entire day away from our families and came home exhausted, with barely enough time and energy to exchange a few words.
When my family became stuck in lockdown together, we realized how much connection we were missing. Our daily lives became intertwined with our family lives, and we were able to share more conversations, laughter, and arguments. This additional interaction allowed us to reconnect as a family more and truly cherish our time together.
6. Do Things You Enjoy
The pandemic provided the perfect opportunity to see our lives from a different perspective. Many of us changed our priorities and began to make adjustments to our lives. With everything canceled, we realized which activities we actually missed and which ones we were secretly relieved to have a break from. The pandemic is challenging enough already without the stress of unwanted commitments, so don't force yourself to do things you don't think will benefit you.
7. Prioritize Your Health
During the pandemic, it's obviously crucial to stay safe and protect yourself from COVID-19. However, it's as equally important to take care of your mental health as it is your physical health. Isolation and the overwhelming uncertainty of the pandemic have taken an emotional toll on all of us, causing elevated feelings of stress, anxiety, and fear.
The best way to cope with these negative emotions is to do things that make you feel happy and healthy, whether that's exercising, self-care, spending time outside, reading, or something else entirely. If you're feeling especially overwhelmed, consider reaching out to a counselor or therapist.
8. It's Okay to Feel Overwhelmed
From isolation to canceled activities and a total loss of normalcy, the pandemic has come with a plethora of negative consequences. It doesn't help that there's a competitive pressure to emerge out of the pandemic stronger and smarter than before. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with using the pandemic to improve yourself, for some of us, this just isn't a feasible goal. Many of us feel guilty about not using every waking moment of lockdown productively, but it's completely okay to be overwhelmed by the pandemic. It's okay to binge-watch Netflix and order takeout and wear pajamas all day. We all have different ways of coping with hardship, and as long as we're doing what's best for us, that's all that matters.
9. Embrace Uncertainty
There were and still are so many unknowns about the pandemic. Just as COVID-19 cases were falling and things were starting to look up, the highly contagious Delta variant began rampaging the entire world. New scientific research and data about COVID-19 are being released every day, and it seems like our perception of the virus is constantly changing. We have no idea of knowing when life will finally return to normal or if it even will, which is an extremely difficult idea to grasp. But even though there is so much out of our control, we can still find security within our own actions by making the most out of every moment.
10. Find Motivation
With lockdown also came a loss of structured routine. Our lives were uprooted, and many of us struggled to find motivation after being cooped up inside for months. However, motivation is especially needed during times like this because it helps us stay anchored in a constantly changing world.
Some ways to kickstart motivation are to read encouraging books or listen to podcasts. It might also help to plan out your day with projects you're passionate about, which provides a sense of purpose and can make you feel more fulfilled.
Hopefully, we remember what we learned throughout our past and apply it to our everyday interactions. COVID-19 has proved to be a recurrent obstacle; therefore, we must properly learn to navigate a post-pandemic lifestyle.