We are in a trying, unprecedented time. For many people, the last few months have been some of the most anxiety producing months of their lives. With loss of jobs, being separated from loved ones, and large economic losses, it makes sense that there are many feelings of sadness, anxiety, isolation and uncertainty. As human beings, it is important to be aware of what is going on in the world. And on the other side of that coin, it is important, if not crucial, that we take this time to reflect on how the world can change for the better once the corona virus passes. After this is over, the world will look a little different. How could it not? Below are some takeaways that are going to be very important if life after corona is going to be more positive, connected and intentional.
Protect the Planet
Spending weeks inside can lead to madness. Now more than ever I have heard many clients, friends, and family sharing how important walks, nature, and time outside has been during this period of shutdown. In this time of quarantine, nature has been one of the top things that people say they are grateful for. Keeping in mind how crucial being outside has been for mental health and well being, we have a duty as human beings on this earth to be more mindful of our impact. Our world is in crisis right now, but the state of our earth has been in one for much longer. After the virus passes, I hope we have a new appreciation and gratitude for the earth, what is does for us, and how critical it is what we work to become aware of our footprint. We need nature, and we need to protect our planet.
We Need People
If you are feeling anxious, depressed and/or disconnected during this time, you are not alone. The world is feeling the effects of being isolated and cut off from others. Thankfully for Zoom, Facetime and video calling capabilities, we are able to virtually connect with friends, family and coworkers. Although this is wonderful, it does not feel the same as in person connection. We live in a world where things are moving more and more to virtual connection, and we spend so much more time than we used to in front of a screen. This forced time in front of screens may be bringing to light how much in person connection is missed. After this is over, I hope there is a pull to connecting more in person with loved ones. We are all so woven together and influence one another. We cannot do life alone, and we need others now more than ever.
Western Work Culture: Work Less
It is amazing how many people feel absolutely directionless without work, or just with having less work to do. This time of working from home is a time to reflect on how much of your life work actually occupies. Between commutes, actual time spent at work, and calls and emails being answered outside of work hours, some may be realizing how much time is devoted to their job. It is important we note how much our western work culture plays a role in our view of how much work is normal and okay. We tend to value people who overwork, companies often encourage being the last one at the office, and we praise those who are quick to answer calls and emails outside of designated work times. This hyper-emphasis on work often leads to a complete and total lack of a balance. This time of quarantine can be a time to really hone-in on how much of your life is consumed with work. Is there a way to work less and cut back hours? Can you work from home often after this is over? Do you want more of a balance between work and your family, health and hobbies?
Boredom: The Importance of Hobbies
I’ve heard many comments from many people about how absolutely bored they are going at home. During this time, puzzle sales are up, people are cooking and baking more than before and lots of people are picking up new hobbies. All of this is great! At the same time, it also highlights how important it is to have interests and hobbies woven into your life on a weekly basis, not just when in crisis. We need to be engaged. People are realizing that now more than ever due to there being less access to places like the gym, bars and restaurants. But we need engagement all the time, especially in things outside of work and daily responsibilities. Engagement is more than being productive, it is the act of being present, involved and interested. It is so crucial for our brain, our bodies and our mental health. It is wonderful that people are getting more engaged in new things. After this, can we think about how he we can weave new hobbies and interests into our life in a sustainable way?
Being Okay With Not Being in Control
If a pandemic can bring anything to light, it is how little control we really have over anything. All we can control is the way we treat others and the ways in which we cope and take care of ourselves. The rest we have so little (if no) influence over. As a therapist, this pandemic is highlighting a feeling I am always trying to help others manage: uncertainty. The constructs of our daily life make us feel like we have more certainty than we do. We pick where we want to eat, we go to the gym to work out, we complete tasks at work. As humans, we want to feel like we are in control and know what to expect. The truth is, we never really can know what will happen, and COVID-19 is bringing this to light in a big way. If we can manage thoughts and feelings around not knowing, research has shown we are more content, relaxed and joyful. After this virus passes, it will be important to continue practicing coping with and accepting the uncertainty that is always present in life.