The ongoing health crisis has changed the way we live our lives. All of us have to adapt to new ways of living – be it working from home, stepping out only for essentials or maintaining distance from others. As we all count down the days till the lockdown ends, let’s take a moment to reflect on what we’ve learned during this period and how this is going to impact the rest of our lives.
Patience is a virtue and can be cultivated
We’re all accustomed to the hustle and bustle of daily life. Before the pandemic, many of us would often run on autopilot and rush through our lives. But now, we’ve had to re-think the way we go about each day. Inspite of the negative impact of the crisis, the lockdown has certainly implemented a sense of patience in us all.
For most of us, there is no option but to be patient with all that is going on in the world. As we adjust to the new normal and face the uncertainty regarding the outbreak, we have to cultivate patience. If you’re living with your family, you may have to now be patient with each member’s needs – especially of the elderly or your kids. Similarly, if you live with your partner and you both have to now work from home, adjusting to each other’s work schedules not only requires patience but also compromise.
The good news is that there are several benefits that come with being patient. Studies show that people who are patient tend to experience lesser negative emotions such as depression, stress and anxiety. They’re also able to be more empathetic and understanding towards others – which is a critical skill to have in the current situation. Additionally, those who are patient are able to be more focussed in their effort to achieve their goals.
There is a lot to be grateful for
For years, researchers have emphasised the importance of being grateful for all that you have. We’ve realised the value of gratitude now more than ever, particularly for things and people we typically take for granted in our lives. Not being able to go about life as usual can help us recognise all the little good things in life that we didn’t pay attention to before – be it a simple lunch with colleagues at work, or the ability to roam around freely in the market. Additionally, many of us are lucky enough to be safe, have our jobs, and be around loved ones at this time. These are things to be grateful for, too.
For the first time in a long time, we have acknowledged and appreciated those members of society who we otherwise didn’t think a lot about. Doctors, nurses, medical practitioners, healthcare workers and scientists have been working hard to treat patients and to find a cure. Teachers have been ensuring students continue to learn and grow, and software engineers are helping banks and financial institutions carry out critical functions virtually. Maids, cleaners, janitors, and garbage collectors are preventing the spread of diseases and maintaining cleanliness. Artists are sharing their talents and providing moments of distraction and comfort from the uncertainty being experienced.
When the lockdown gets lifted and things go back to the way they were, it’s important that we continue to practise gratitude – not only towards our loved ones, but also towards those who are working hard right now to make a difference in our lives.
Creativity can shine anywhere
Since commuting is no longer a part of everyday life, many of us now have a lot more time on our hands to engage in hobbies or activities that we’ve neglected for a while. Moreover, owing to travel and transportation restrictions, there is a scarcity of resources of all kinds, including groceries, home supplies, and even medicines. This is pushing people to become creative by doing more with less. A number of studies show that limited access to resources aids creativity.
It is likely that you now have a very different way of approaching your daily chores such as cooking. For instance, previously you may have thought, ‘What do I feel like making today?’ Now, you might probably think, ‘What’s the best I can do with the resources I have?’ The same is true for exercise. Previously, you could go to the gym or run in the park. Now, you have to figure out novel and creative ways to maintain your exercise routine at home – and many people have successfully done just that!
Tapping into your creativity comes with a host of mental and physical health benefits. Expressing how you feel in creative ways – such as through art or writing – is a great way to relieve stress, anxiety and even depression. Creative expression can even boost your immunity and energy levels.
Being creative with whatever you have access to can not only help you get through the lockdown period but also benefit you once the lockdown is over. You may notice a difference in how you approach your work and you may even feel more motivated to pursue new goals and interests.
We can no longer take our people for granted
With an urgent need to limit social contact, we’ve all had to resort to connecting virtually with our loved ones. Before the lockdown, regular coffee catch-ups, dinners and social events were things we probably didn’t think too much about. But now as we’re all dealing with the uncertainty of when things will settle down, meeting our friends and family would be something none of us would take for granted anymore. It is likely that we will become more appreciative towards them – and we might even become more proactive when it comes to maintaining our relationships.
Additionally, we’re now seeing various communities and organisations come together and support the vulnerable population by offering food and essentials. We’re seeing neighbours get close to one another by offering to help out in any way possible; this has created a sense of belonging for us all. We’ve seen families learn the importance of being together through thick and thin and most importantly, we’ve learned that no matter what, we’re all in this together.
Even after this lockdown ends and the pandemic passes, what people cannot forget is the importance of being around loved ones and making the most of the time we get to spend with them.
We are a lot more adaptable than we thought
Before the pandemic began, most people had set routines that determined how they spent their day. A large chunk of the day was spent at work, school or university. Many of us could not have imagined going through our day without the things that we were so accustomed to – and yet, here we are.
The lockdown has forced us to adapt to a completely new way of living. Most of us are working from home, many of us are around our families 24/7, some of us are living alone away from all loved ones, and all of us are trying to cope. Some of us might be concerned about how we will readjust once life goes back to the old normal after the pandemic. In times like these, it’s important to pause and remind ourselves that we have already adapted to a huge change once, and we can do it again. We are more flexible than we thought.
The current crisis is also acting as a wake-up call for people. As we adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic, many of us are now understanding what we truly value in life. This has left several of us with a sense of meaning and a new zest to work towards achieving our goals. This will change the way we live our lives post the pandemic as well.
Once this pandemic ends, it’s likely that older and middle-aged people will switch careers, step down from senior positions, or maybe even take early retirement. They may begin to realise the value of their families and may understand the importance of spending time together. Younger people may look for long-term employment. They may wish to have a stable job, to ensure safety and stability if a crisis hits again – but they may also want flexibility to focus on their newly-discovered hobbies and skills. Companies will also be able to provide this flexibility as they realise the feasibility of long-term remote working.
It’s important to slow down
For many of us, the lockdown has brought it with prolonged periods of dullness and nothingness. While this can leave us feeling apathetic and unengaged, we also have an opportunity to take things slow and savour even the smallest of experiences in life – like having a meal or reading a book.
When the lockdown ends and things start going back to the way they were, it’s important that we acknowledge the importance of taking things slow and staying in the present moment. The lockdown has taught us that things don’t have to be done in a hurry. If you take the time to explore, learn and become mindful, you are more likely to feel happier.
When you accept this need to slow down, you’re able to put things into perspective and enjoy life to the fullest. Slowing down is not a sign of being weak or inefficient. In fact, being able to slow down from time to time makes us stronger. It helps us fight off mental and physical health conditions and ultimately enables us to lead a better life. Slowing down even helps us appreciate the people in our life; we begin to feel more grateful for all that we have and are more likely to work harder to achieve our goals.
We can find hope even in dark times
While we try to adapt to this new normal, hope is the one thing that is keeping us going.
As we are surrounded by news of the crisis and are constantly exposed to hopeless statistics about the rising number of cases, it can be hard to feel hopeful. Yet, the news is also filled with stories about rising recovery rates. We know that governments are taking strict measures to ensure that everyone stays safe and indoors. People are donating food, clothes and other necessities to the under-privileged. Even though times are gloomy, there is some good happening in the world.
The fact of the matter is that hope gives us something to look forward to. It allows us to find meaning in everyday life and also helps us reframe the way we’re looking at an adverse event. This makes hope especially important for those who’ve been subjected to the virus itself or are taking care of loved ones with the disease. Without hope, we may struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But having even a little bit of hope can make a huge difference in the way we live our lives.
Similar to hope, optimism is crucial to dealing with life’s challenges and living a more fulfilling life. When we’re optimistic, we are more likely to look at difficult situations as an opportunity to evolve. Instead of feeling defeated in the face of a challenging situation, finding ways to be engaged, healthy and happy can maintain our well-being. No matter what we’re going through in life, this feeling of optimism can help us get through it and thus come out stronger.
While the lockdown has certainly been a period of learning and lessons, it has also been a scary and overwhelming experience for a lot of us. As we look for different ways to cope, let us hope we’re able to become more resilient in the face of future stressors.
Remember: if we are able to respond to the health crisis with resilience, we are going to be able to deal with whatever else life throws our way.
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