Opinion: 7 Life Lessons Learned from Covid (So Far)

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woman wearing a mask

Today’s reality is far from what any of us could have imagined. Here we are, amid a global pandemic – a time in which we’re in this weird limbo, with no opportunity to escape.

Who knew a mask would become the ultimate travel companion – accompanying you to the grocery store, the mall, a restaurant – heck, I even catch myself wearing it in my car.

Or, what about all the drastic changes we’ve had to make to our households? Creating a makeshift office at home, learning how to become a teacher overnight to our kids, and canceling home gatherings. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least.

You might be reading this and thinking 2020 is a “write-off” – the worst year you’ve experienced. I disagree.

Now, don’t get me wrong, hearing news reports of people and jobs lost are incredibly distressing. And, I know of family members who’ve contracted Covid (there’s nothing that sends you into panic mode quite like this). But if there’s one thing Covid has done, is it’s forced us to reflect on our current situation. We have no choice but to pause, learn to become more mindful, appreciative of what we have, and live in the present moment – I know I have.

7 Life Lessons Learned from COVID: 

With Family: 

1. To Recognize the Importance of a Schedule  

Formulating a schedule became a savior in my household. In March, I sat down to flesh out what our day would look like as a family, taking into account work and online school schedules- this helped to add a bit of stability in our home, even as pandemonium struck everywhere else.

weekly planner
2. To Practice Meaningful Communication 

One of the most difficult challenges I faced was the abrupt disconnect from my parents and extended family members. Like most of us, I too transitioned to virtual meetups. But this routine was getting stale and not instilling meaningful communication. Rather than talk at the spur of a moment, we now opt to carve out time during dinner. It makes the conversation more engaging and interactive, where all of us sit and “share” a meal together- like we used to. 

With Work:

3. To Follow Your Passion 

Taking up a new hobby or developing a new skill might be worthwhile as we remain locked down. In my case, I felt compelled to pursue a new activity – learning to cook – something I was always mediocre at but was eager to master. I quickly discovered that connecting with this passion resulted in deep satisfaction and fulfillment. Plus, it kept my anxiety at bay.

Whether it’s for 20 minutes or 2 hours, take this time to focus on cultivating happiness for yourself.

person painting
4. To Take Clear Breaks

Initially, I found it challenging to keep the motivation and momentum up when working from home. I learned that breaking up my day into segments and weaving “free time” helped resist the urge to procrastinate and kept my mind clear.

With Relationships:

5. To Show Empathy 

My relationship took a serious hit during the early stages of the pandemic. Who can relate? Spending every minute with one another, day after day, made for a nightmarish outcome. For instance, a small action, like leaving dishes in the sink, would irritate my entire being (true story).

Really taking the time to listen to my partner may be one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned during the pandemic. Understanding his thoughts and concerns (because we’re all processing this differently) and vice-versa allowed us to reconnect. By making listening a priority, we recognized one another’s emotional state and learned how to approach and manage situations more effectively.

Personal: 

6. To Practice Gratitude, Daily 

It’s easy to forget how fortunate we are during busy times in our lives. But because we are forced to slow down this year, I made an intentional effort to practice gratitude every morning, listing a few words in my journal of things I’m thankful for. You’d be surprised at how much this sticks. I now always look for moments throughout the day to smile or bring joy to someone else. It’s the ultimate gift.

writing in journal
7. To Carve Out Time for Yourself 

Self-care seems to be all the rage these days, but how many of us actually practice it? I’m the first to admit it was never a real priority up until a few months ago. Sure, I’d take some time for myself sporadically, but it was never consistent or well-thought-out.

Taking care of yourself should be number one. Because, if you can’t do this, how can you possibly take care of someone else? I started to carve out time on the weekends to read, write, and during the week, I began 30-minute workouts every morning. This led to significant improvements in my relationship with myself, and my role as a mother, wife, and friend. It amazes me how something so small has created a massive impact on my emotional wellbeing.