Updated: Apr 18, 2021
We have seen and experienced unprecedented changes over the past year. The impact of the pandemic has been worldwide and it has forced all of us ( governments, NGO’s, industry, business, social service sectors, individuals) to change how we live and what we have come to expect in our lives.
Many of these changes have met with conflict and disagreement. Not all people accept the version of facts as presented by our governing officials and health professionals. This community divide has brought up significant issues and has created its own set of challenges and difficulties.
Our economies, local and worldwide have been affected. People have lost their jobs and have had to struggle to survive - maintain their home, keep their families intact. Schools have shut down, business and restaurants have closed and our access to other services has been restricted. New rules around shopping, medical appointments and massive restrictions to travel have changed how we live our daily life. Masks, social distancing and hand washing/sanitizing has become part of our daily norm. We have had to focus on our most basic and immediate needs. It has been said that while we may be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. That is certainly true as many of us have greater resources, resilience and supports to help guide su through this time.
We have seen changes in how the virus transmits and how the variants are now more contagious and dangerous. We have faced fear and frustration over our own vulnerability and susceptibility. We are concerned about the delays in the vaccine roll-out and and the ever changing information on the vaccine and on how we can safeguard ourselves. This has increased our frustration and our lack of control over how we can keep ourselves and our loved ones healthy and safe.
One of the biggest and most compelling changes has had to do with the restriction we face on who we can have direct contact with and socialize with. Family gatherings have ceased, grandparents visiting and having grandchildren sleep over has disappeared, celebrations around weddings, graduations, births and funerals have all had to be restricted or cancelled. This has been one of the most difficult adjustments for people and in some cases has led to more extreme social isolation. If you live alone and are elderly you are particularly vulnerable. Mental health challenges have emerged as a major crisis in many people’s lives.
There has been a tremendous impact worldwide in terms of illness and death. It cannot be overstated the overwhelming loss and grief we have experienced collectively and personally. How does one move forward after the loss of a loved one to this virus? It is important for us all to understand that this is a form of traumatic loss. It happens quickly, you may have been restricted from contact and you may never have had the chance to say good-bye. That separation, from family and loved ones at the most difficult time, has lasting effects on individuals and families.
Pandemic fatigue has become the new watchword to describe that feeling of being exhausted and overwhelmed with all the restrictions and to become less likely to follow through with public health orders. We desperately want to resume our old ways of living. We want our connections back; to travel, to work, to go to school and to hug our loved ones. We can see the possibility of the vaccine taking hold and opening up our world, but we are impatient and in the interim we are now faced with a new variant that is putting more people at increased risk.
The greatest challenge for all of us is how to we weather this storm a little longer. How can we come to view this pandemic as not just a time of great loss and deprivation? With all of the changes and worldwide impacts what can we find to be grateful for?
While it may seem as though there is little that is positive in this experience, there are in fact many things we can appreciate about this time. Some simple and some more profound.
Deep appreciation for those we love;
An understanding how fragile life is and a reminder not to take time for granted;
Creating memorable times with those we love;
Learning : skills, on-line education, new technologies etc. We have all been challenged to learn a variety of new platforms to stay connected for both work and personal matters,
Less vehicle travel resulting in less vehicle congestion, cost, pollution and time constraints,
The opportunity to work from home. This remote work while offering some challenges has been a positive for many, with often greater productivity and less stress.
More home cooked meals and family dinner times improving our connections.
Support for local businesses so they can manage through these difficult times. Buy local including restaurants( take out), grocery stores, small businesses etc.
While our collective mental health has been challenged there has also been increased attention to our wellness - more mindfulness, Journalling, exercise, meditation, self care etc.
Kindness and compassion have emerged as a new focus during this time. Giving thanks to all the first responders and service providers. Gratitude and phrases like “be safe, be kind be calm” have become part of our day to day life.
More time in nature. All outdoor sports have seen an increase and as the weather improves we will likely see more and more take advantage of what our great outdoors can offer. Hiking, walking, biking, golfing, skiing, camping, swimming etc can all be done safely and they offer tremendous health benefits and is restorative to our soul.
Perhaps you can identify some positive things that have emerged in your world related to the changes we have faced due to the pandemic.
Remember to stay focused on the present moment and appreciate what is before you. The future will unfold and our challenge is to rise to the occasion, navigate the uncertain path and stay committed to what we believe is possible.