After almost 1.5 years into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are slowly starting to see signs of pre-pandemic life. More people are returning to public institutions and many students will return to an all-in-person school experience this fall. It seems like a dark chapter in our lives is coming to an end, giving way to a much brighter future. But as we begin to put the pandemic in the past, it is essential that we retain the lessons we have learned from that time. We’ve had tremendous challenges, but with it has also come 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 confined, it was extremely difficult to focus on the present moment. The past was full of so many happy memories, and it was hard to process that it would take a very long time before we could create them again. Our isolation has shown us how much we take normal life for granted. We started seeing everyday activities like school and grocery shopping as something special, rather than just another errand on the to-do list.
Now that we can finally taste “normal” experiences again, try to make the most of every laugh, every conversation, and every unisolated moment, because there’s no way of knowing when the next one will be.
2. Appreciate the change
There is no doubt that the pandemic has changed our lives forever. But in some ways, this change has been positive. Globally, there has been a surge in activism, especially among young people. Long ignored issues are finally part of the conversation, and governments, organizations and schools are all working to create safer and more equitable environments for all.
On a more personal level, we have been forced to make changes to our daily routines, some of which may continue to benefit us even after we return to normal. We were thrown into an impossible and unprecedented situation, but we managed to find the incredible strength to overcome all the pain and fear. We are now more resilient and prepared for all the challenges of post-pandemic life.
3. Focus on the positive
Many of us felt overwhelmed by the constant negative news and the endless time of isolation. It can be extremely difficult to remain optimistic when the world around us is filled with immense fear, loss and uncertainty, but even in the most difficult times there is still hope. Every day we get closer to full reopening, and there will come a time when we can safely resume the activities of pre-pandemic life. Until then, try to be grateful for all the positive things in your life, no matter how small.
4. Cherish the little things
The pandemic as a whole has been a mess of grief and fear, but hidden in all that negativity are moments of joy. We can no longer enjoy big, extravagant events, but we can enjoy all the daily happenings that we once took for granted. Cherish the extra time spent with family, delicious meals, long walks in nature, and all that fills life with happiness.
5. Appreciate family time
These last months of confinement have allowed us to spend more time than ever with our families. Before the pandemic, all of our lives were filled with school or work. We spent most of the day away from our families and came home exhausted, with barely enough time and energy to exchange a few words.
When my family got stuck together, we realized how much we missed the connection. Our daily lives intertwined with our family lives, and we were able to share more conversations, laughter, and arguments. This added interaction allowed us to reconnect more as a family and truly cherish our time together.
6. Do things you love
The pandemic has provided the perfect opportunity to see our lives from a different perspective. Many of us changed our priorities and started making adjustments to our lives. With everything canceled, we realized which activities we had actually missed and which we were secretly relieved to take a break. The pandemic is hard enough 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 is obviously crucial to stay safe and protect yourself from COVID-19. However, taking care of your mental health is just as important as your physical health. The isolation and overwhelming uncertainty of the pandemic has had an emotional impact on all of us, causing heightened feelings of stress, anxiety and fear.
The best way to deal with these negative emotions is to do things that make you happy and healthy, whether it’s exercising, taking care of yourself, spending time outdoors, reading, or something else. If you’re feeling particularly overwhelmed, consider contacting a counselor or therapist.
8. It’s okay to feel overwhelmed
From isolation to canceled activities and a complete loss of normality, the pandemic has brought about a plethora of negative consequences. It doesn’t help that there is competitive pressure to emerge from the pandemic stronger and smarter than before. While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with using the pandemic to get better, for some of us that’s just not an attainable goal. Many of us feel guilty for not using every moment of lockdown productively, but being overwhelmed by the pandemic is totally okay. There’s nothing wrong with watching Netflix, ordering takeout, and wearing pajamas all day. We all have different ways of coping with difficulties, 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. As COVID-19 cases dwindled and things started to look up, the highly contagious Delta variant began to rage around the world. New scientific research and data on COVID-19 are released every day, and it seems our perception of the virus is constantly changing. We have no idea when life will finally return to normal or even if it will, which is an extremely difficult idea to grasp. But even though there are so many things beyond our control, we can still find safety in our own actions by making the most of every moment.
10. Find motivation
With the 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 at times like this because it helps us stay grounded in an ever-changing world.
Some ways to boost motivation are to read encouraging books or listen to podcasts. It can also be helpful to plan your day with projects that you are passionate about, which give you meaning and can make you feel more fulfilled.
I hope we will remember what we have learned throughout our past and apply it to our daily interactions. COVID-19 has proven to be a recurring obstacle; therefore, we need to properly learn how to navigate a post-pandemic lifestyle.