For the past month, we have been inundated with stories and news briefings of how this pandemic has impacted our world like no other. It’s killed thousands of individuals, ruined global finances, and severely slashed millions of jobs. Could there be benefits to this catastrophe, particularly in regards to our mental health?
1. Our connection to our loved ones have deepened.
Most of us are limited to the confines of our home, and no longer have the daily interactions of our co-workers and friends. People have developed a longing to converse with family members or old friends outside written form, and have actually picked up the phone, facetime, or zoom meetings. Prior to this, it seemed as if conversing aloud appeared antiquated. Only our fingers have been communicating. But we are yearning to hear each other’s voices, and therefore conversations have become more textured and layered.
2. We are allowed to be bored and therefore are reconnecting with our hobbies and creativity.
When have you had this much free time that was not full of activities or holiday chores and obligations? After binge watching on television shows and films, some of us are flourishing in our cooking and baking skills. Others are finding creativity in crafting masks for themselves and those in need. We also are pushing our physical and mental limitations by learning the latest tik tok choreography.
3. Minimizing the busy have forced us to sit with ourselves, and befriend the person in the mirror.
Many times we avoid the darkness in our hearts or stay busy to distance us from the dissatisfactions with life. The noise keeps us from hearing what is really there. Now the distractions have decreased, we can tune into who we really are. Initially we may have sat with the depression and anxiety that was there, but with time those clouds may have passed. Some of us have been able to forgive and heal old wounds and accept where we are in our lives.
4. Consumerism as a form of distraction has decreased, reminding us what is essential in our lives.
Due to the inability to leave our homes or the fact that our paychecks are constricted, we are buying less stuff. We are also finally home long enough to use the stuff that is in our homes, and see what is necessary in our lives is minimal.
5. Gratitude is prominent for the smallest daily bits of wonder that have entered our lives.
We get bursts of joy to feel the sun shine on our faces through the windows or belly filled laughter after sharing a memory or old photo with a friend. We find contentment in being able to pet our dogs or cats as they snuggle next to us or actually find pleasure in a comforting dessert we have prepared.
6. Being given the permission to do nothing has freed us from the guilt of producing, consuming, or eliminating FOMO.
The weight of social comparison has been limited. Nobody is going on expensive vacations, socializing at amazing parties, or taking selfies in front of jaw-dropping backdrops. We are all socially isolating and quarantining ourselves at home. Wishing to be somewhere other than where you currently are is futile, and we understand this.
7. We have been given the space to think about what we truly value and how we want to live the remainder of our lives.
There is an understanding this will end, the simple question is when. Many of us have been given telework options, and are navigating how we can negotiate this with our bosses when this is over. Perhaps there is deep dissatisfaction in your field, now is the time to explore a different type of job, or even the city you live. We may desire to live closer to our friends and family, or give up the dream of living in the big city to spend our money more strategically.
8. We have witnessed the ways we are dependent on each other and developed an appreciation for all forms of profession.
Never have I seen people so grateful for those in the medical world, grocery store clerks, or teachers. People have verbalized their praise for these everyday heroes, who are now getting recognized with applause, songs, and artwork. It has been beautiful to see the smiles of appreciation and words of affirmation for all of us at this time.
9. There has been a universal experience we have undergone simultaneously, which has the potential to always connect us.
Covid-19 have known no boundaries. It has hit all countries, level of class, age and we are in this together. We will all have the ability to look at this adversity we collectively experience, and find solidarity in our struggle. We have one joint enemy in the coronavirus, and it’s ideally uniting us.
10. We have found that even in isolation we can be free.
Confinement or freedom is found in our minds. You have the key to unlock the prison doors. By not having to be a typical consumer, busy-body, or one upper, you have the time, space, and potential to begin to craft the life you want post Covid-19.
Upon curating this top 10 list, I couldn’t help but notice that many of the benefits listed are similar to realizations we may have upon attending a silent retreat. When distractions are removed, there is no option but to sit with ourselves and take stock of our lives. There is no escaping you and the time limited container you are put under. Through stillness we can begin to explore, develop, and refine the essentials in our lives. We can find gratitude and joy in the tiny moments that weave in and out of our days, and much of what we have been endlessly seeking already exists within the confines of our home and ourselves.