COVID-19 has been undoubtedly stressful for everyone. Children’s routines have been changed overnight, plans have been cancelled at the last minute, people have been laid off, fired, or had to change jobs suddenly, schools suddenly switched to online, many jobs have to be worked from home now, and people are scrubbing compulsively, keeping their distance from others, and wearing masks and gloves to protect themselves and others from spreading a novel illness that is deadly among older adults and the immunocompromised. Indeed, a quick Google search tells you everything about how COVID-19 has turned our worlds upside down and has destroyed many things we hold dear.
However, some people are beginning to discuss some good things that the COVID-19 pandemic has made possible, such as a well-needed break from work, more quality family time, time to get DIY projects done, and more. Although it is very important to address the bad parts of COVID-19, it is important to address the silver linings COVID-19 has provided us as well. During these trying, chaotic times, we could all use some positivity in our lives. I’m going to discuss five good things that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided for me in the hopes that it will provide some positivity to those who need it, and allow those same people to consider some positivity that has come to them because of the lockdowns.
1. Breaks Are Important
One unintended consequence of this pandemic is that it left me without work for almost three months; I was in the middle of changing jobs before the lockdowns began, and the government lockdowns put a hiring freeze on the job I was going for, so I was in limbo from early March to late May. Although I was initially stressed out, I did learn a few things. First of all, I was stressed out over nothing since my husband’s income covers all our bills. Second, this was the first work break I’ve had in almost ten years where I didn’t have to worry about finances. Third, with the first two points in mind, I could use the break to take some well-deserved relaxation time and work on myself. During my time off work, I have been able to work on my workaholism, reset my body and mind, and just take me-time. I used to have chronic migraines—I haven’t had one in months now! My body isn’t as sore and I don’t feel frazzled. Now that I have a part-time job again, I’ve come to appreciate taking breaks when needed, and will in the future.
2. Having Hobbies Is Wonderful
Before the COVID-19 lockdowns, I was a store manager, which left very little time for relaxation, let alone hobbies and interests. When I resigned as a manager and ended up out of work, I was lost for a couple of weeks. But during the boredom, I discovered several hobbies that I love: painting, DIY home projects, crafts, baking, and cooking elaborate meals. I have also rediscovered my love for reading, writing, and learning new information and skills. I’m taking Coursera classes and watching YouTube tutorials again. Discovering and rediscovering hobbies has added a richness to my life for the first time in years, and I’ll never let that go again.
3. Minimalism Is What We Need
It goes without saying that an income loss means having to cut costs and rebudget wherever necessary, but plenty of good can come from that. After being out of work, I’ve learned where we can cut most of our costs to save money, what our needs are versus our wants, free and low-cost entertainment ideas, and what is truly important in our lives. For example, we don’t need a new TV every two to three years, we don’t have to have the latest gaming computer, we can live without takeout and eating out often, and there are plenty of things we already have that we can sell and donate. I have already taken three huge boxes of clothes to Goodwill during this lockdown, and I probably have one or two more to give. We have sold old technology and furniture to clear the house more, and thrown away broken items. We have come to value space and peace over things, and our saved money means we can use it for bills, put it in savings, and spoil each other and our dog more.
4. It’s Never Too Late to Learn a New Habit
I took a Coursera course titled “The Science of Well-Being” as a birthday present to myself, and part of the course was learning that good habits lead to happiness rather than just things and money. Some habits I have taken to learning are regular sleeping, regular exercise, writing in a gratitude journal, savoring small things and events, and performing random acts of kindness. I have been cooking at home more and eating better, I have become less jaded and cynical, and having gratitude every day makes me feel better. All the free time has allowed me to learn better habits and reject bad ones. I can truly say it is helping me be a better person overall.
5. Reset My Priorities
All of these things meet a final, but highly important, lesson for myself, and that is where my priorities lie. Obviously, my family is my first priority, but now I have learned to focus more on my family rather than giving most of my focus to my work. I have also learned to live with less so I and my husband can work less and be home more together with our dog. We have also relearned the importance of date nights, visiting extended family, and unplugging our devices to focus on each other. In addition, we have both learned, not only how to better balance work and home, but also which work would benefit us the most and better use our strengths. I can truly say that the lockdown has provided me with clarity that I may not have received otherwise.
These are five major good things that the COVID-19 pandemic has provided for me. By reflecting on the positivity, I am better able to plan ahead for myself, my family, and my future career options! Your list may be similar, or very different, but I urge all my fellow Psi Chi members to create a list of positive things that COVID-19 has allowed in your life. No matter how big or small, any and all positivity will be helpful. Furthermore, spread the lessons you’ve learned to other members and classmates and cohorts. Use them to plan your next steps in life, and always remember to stop and smell the roses from time to time.