Here at fseap, we are reminded on a daily basis, that organizations, their employees and their families are struggling and needing support. And yet, in the midst of the battle, we are hearing whisperings of positivity, strength and resilience. Now that we have spent a few weeks staying inside without a lot of in-person social contact, we thought that it might be worthwhile to pay attention to those glimmers of light in our everyday experience.
Cutting Back on Costs: There is little room for frivolous spending. People understand that they need to save for a rainy day, as we haven’t been given firm timelines as to when the first wave will be over. COVID-19 has created a forced-savings plan, as restaurants, hair salons and movie theaters aren’t open. If budgeting wasn’t something which came easily to you pre-COVID, you may now be acquiring a new skill of tracking your expenditures, as people ponder, “What do I really need, versus what do I really want?” (Suze Orman offers some good advice if you want to stay on the money-management train for the long-term.)
Paying Attention to Personal Development: The notion of “time” has changed for everyone. In some cases, with commuting either reduced or completely obsolete, or not having as much to do at work, this is freeing up time to do things that in the past may have been considered guilty pleasures. For example, reading those bestselling books which have been on your “to do list” for months, is now a possibility. Goodreads.com lists every genre of books, with popularity ratings, and the top books for 2020. There are informational webinars now available for free online as many business leaders are reaching out to assist in this time of need. Take a course in whatever your heart desires: Excel, building bird cages, or writing script! Finally, watch that television series that has 12 seasons, and 35 episodes per season. You can also listen to Ted Talks or check out this link for free resources which offers a vast amount of varied learning!
Spending Time Outside: For many, throwing on a pair of running shoes and walking around the block, is not their first idea of fun. But COVID-19 has brought thousands outside, (of course, staying mindful of physical distancing!) to frequent trails, ride bikes, or go kayaking. Families are willing to try new outdoor activities because they don’t have a lot of options: rusty badminton sets, soccer balls needing filling, and tattered road-hockey sets are being resurrected from the back of the garage, making a comeback! Plant a few flowers and light that barbecue up; we are fortunate to have warmer weather upon us.
Engaging in Newly-Discovered Interests: People are putting on their creative hats and becoming curious again. Learning a new language, discovering how to bake that perfect soufflé, playing solitaire, painting a picture, picking at a guitar; the list is long. Do whatever you feel strikes a chord; try it, you may not have this opportunity of such flexible time again!
Attending to Self-Care: People are taking a renewed interest in health products, researching vitamins in light of COVID-19 (Vitamins C and D have flown off the shelf) and also choosing facial and hair care products which are not filled with chemicals. COVID-19 has alerted us to be more informed as to what is going in and on our bodies: meditating and exercise make even more sense. To protect us in the best way possible against COVID, people are exploring what food groups might do the best job of fighting off disease. People are pulling out their yoga mats, free weights, and resistance bands to compliment online exercise classes that can be accessed via YouTube or local studios, due to gyms being closed. Dancing to top hits with a few friends (while social distancing) works wonders.
Accomplishing Long-Ignored Tasks: Typically, we might feel the pressure of cleaning out the entire home in one spring session, but now we can clean out one drawer or one closet every week. Organize the documents or photographs on your computer into their relevant file folders. If you feel especially inspired, paint that drab kitchen! Glue together that one porcelain cup which fell off your bookcase weeks ago. Rather than putting it off, download an app which will help you track your steps when walking. Check into organizational tools and apps on your iOS or Android device which, according to some, will change lives!
Valuing Family/Friends/Co-Workers/Pets: Life is simpler. Even if some people are still dealing with a full (or busier) work schedule, the children are in the home now, not spending time with their friends, or at another play date down the road. In order to keep everyone mentally healthy, family members are re-introducing board and card games once again. Talking at the dinner table is now not as rushed, with mom, dad, and kids running to their various extra-curricular obligations. The backyard is being raked and planted as a team. The family unit is becoming more solidified as the opportunity for quality time becomes more available. Reconnect with former high school friends; there is no time like now. People need to rely on their co-workers even more so, as working from home brings its own challenges; others are putting themselves at risk working the front lines, and colleagues are in the trenches together, bringing a whole new meaning to work relationships. We are also finding amusing games to play with our dogs/cats in order to break their boredom and ours!
Being Present for Gratefulness and Reflection: What is really important? What do I want out of my life? Who do I want to spend my time with? These are just some of the questions which we are currently contemplating. A pandemic will certainly put our priorities into place. Some people are concerned about gaining access to food and shelter, which are basic life necessities. Some people can’t say goodbye to their elderly loved ones, due to them having COVID-19. It stops us in our tracks, and we are forced to ask, “Did I really have to have that fight with my partner? Do I need a big home? Why does it matter?” Human connection is also important and so in times of isolation and quarantine, we have a fresh perspective, and rather than being annoyed by friends’ quirks, we wish they were sitting with us, with all of their idiosyncrasies, so that we could have a good laugh together. What do I believe in? What does my spirituality mean to me right now? Many of us have lived for years, never asking any deeper questions of ourselves. We now have the time to, and we are not only asking, but we are even grateful we can contemplate, as others, due to tragedy, were unfortunately not given the chance.
As a final thought, this poem by Kitty O’Meara is telling. Ms. O’Meara is a retired teacher who was not only surprised that her poem went viral, but that Deepak Chopra and Oprah both gave honour to Ms. O’Meara:
In the Time of Pandemic
And the people stayed home.
And they read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still.
And they listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced.
Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.
And the people healed.
And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.
And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.