One Year into COVID, What Have We Learned?
One year ago, we were really just starting to feel the impact of COVID-19 in the US. Prior to March 2019, COVID had been blazing a trail around the world, shutting cities down in its wake. But March was when many cities around United States went into lockdown.
COVID times have challenged each of us in unique ways, and we’re all coping differently. Many are struggling in relationships with partners, family, and friends. Many feel isolated. Many are more aware of their mental health struggles. Many feel hopeless.
At the same time, many have sought mental health support, some for the first time in their lives. Many have made changes in their relationships that were a long time coming. Many reconnected with friends whom they hadn’t spoken to in a while. Many learned new coping skills and tried new hobbies. Many started to practice gratitude for the small joys.
As we consider the impact of COVID, let’s consider: What have we really learned about ourselves, others, and the world during this time?
Here are some reflections that I’ve been thinking on.
We need more compassion
Many people think that compassion for others is a given, that it’s part of being human. But when it comes down to it, humans often act selfishly. We forget that there’s a greater good, and then we find ourselves pointing fingers at each other, wondering where’s the love.
As we grapple with what compassion looks like for ourselves and others, it may be helpful to remember that compassion doesn’t have to mean you agree. It doesn’t mean that someone has to be suffering more than you. And it doesn’t have to be earned.
Instead of cutting the queue to get a COVID vaccine, can we ignite a movement to increase the spread of compassion? Can we do better for ourselves, our loved ones, our communities, and the world?
We are stronger than we think
There’s no doubt that this past year has pushed us to our limits. Oftentimes when that happens, we tap into inner strengths that we may not have been aware of or tuned into. That’s when we see what we are really made of.
Each one of us has resources within us that we can harness during hard times. And COVID isn’t the first event that’s challenged us in our lives. If we think about it, each of us can probably name several struggles we’ve faced in our lives, even if not of the magnitude of a global pandemic.
As you think of those times, consider: What got you through it? What tools did you utilize? What people did you rely on? What little joys gave you fuel to go on another day?
And can you connect with those resources now? Can you use them as a hand to hold, supporting you through this incredibly difficult time?
What we do today matters
If COVID has highlighted one thing, it’s that every day counts. We don’t know how long we, or our loved ones, have to live.
Can we make a pact to…
Do our best. Carve out time for self-care. Try something new. Say “I love you.” Breathe in the fresh air. Slow down. Be kind. Get out of that job we hate. Adopt that dog. Train for that marathon.
We only get one life — it’s cliché but true. What do you want your life to look like? How are you living in line with that vision, and how are you not? What changes would you like to make? And can you think about taking even just one step in that direction?
No one is immune from pain
There’s no denying that everyone has been impacted by COVID; no one is immune from its effects. We’ve each experienced a level of distress, pain, or struggle as a result of the global pandemic.
It’s easy in the modern era of social media to think that there are certain people who are exempt from suffering. Curated feeds make sure of this. But the reality is that we all have our own struggles, challenges, and insecurities. While the flavor of our struggles differ, we all have them.
Humans are more alike than we are different. We all have basic needs — to fuel ourselves with nutrients, to experience authentic connection, to find purpose and meaning.
At the end of the day, I hope that we can remind ourselves that the world may feel large at times, but we are all united in our humanness. Each one of us is just doing our best to get by, to do this life in a way that works for us. May we remember this as we move forward and heal from the impact of the past year.
We need to prioritize our wellness, and not just during hard times
Having a regular wellness practice builds resilience and lays the foundation for support when hard times inevitably occur.
We don’t know when COVID will be “over,” or if there will even be an official “end date.” As we continue to do our best to weather this storm, may we all be reminded that each of us is just doing the best we can to survive. And what our “best” is will inevitably differ person-to-person.
It’s not about being perfect at coping or being the ideal partner or friend, but rather to do our best to try, to be intentional in our actions, and to remember that even as these times challenge us, we will get through it.