Could there be positives to the (terrible) COVID-19 crisis to learn from?
It occurred to me, as I strolled the grocery aisles with my cart unusually full of raw vegetables, given the lack of meat, and after my third walk for the day, that there may be some positives to our current COVID-19 situation. And that in these positives perhaps some lessons to take forward with us. As a psychologist and therapist I am hearing my client’s share their own positive experiences as well, often different from mine, and sometimes the same. With the amount of fear and negatively bombarding us daily, I thought these insights might be worth sharing.
Disclaimer: This is in no way meant to minimize or dismiss the very real and significant negative impacts of COVID-19, including on peoples’ physical, financial, emotional and mental wellbeing. We need to continue to take the necessary preventative measures to keep safe.
In my office I’ve heard some version of “I finally feel like I can take a break” near daily in these first few weeks. People who are endlessly hard on themselves, performance-driven, perfectionist, achievers, over-accomplishers, optimizers, and all others that struggle to afford themselves the rest they need, this has been a welcomed change of pace. Finally a valid reason to slow down. The struggle to compassionately listen to and honour one’s own needs, particularly the need to slow down or rest. This can normally be difficult in a culture in which overworking seems to be a badge of honour to humble-brag about at social gatherings. When this need for rest and downtime comes into conflict with the expectations of yourself or others, it can feel impossible to honour the break you need and keep the demands of your work, life, family met. For the first time for some, or at least since they were young children, they have been able to lean into life’s natural pace.
Not Feeling Alone
As one client eloquently put it, how everyone feels right now, like they are on edge, fearful of something bad happening, unsure of the future, is how [he] feels all the time. For him, it feels nice to finally feel understood, like other’s have a sense, a window now into what it feels like to be him. There is great relief in not feeling alone in our pain, and for several people including this client, this has allowed some version of that. This seems true on a larger scale as well. We have come together as a country, all going through this together. Most all are assuming their responsibility in self-isolating to support the wellbeing of each other with limited push-back or complaint, despite the significant negative impacts this has on our lives. It’s inspiring how quickly we can come together as a community to support the overall good. I’m left wondering what else we could achieve if we came together.
A Different Pace of Parenting
Time With Your Loved Ones
With nothing else to do, people are taking to being outside in huge numbers while maintaining respectful distance apart. Children are building snowmen in their backyards, adults are going for runs, neighbours are sitting on their decks or porches again, dogs are getting their needed walks, and so much more. Life outside has blossomed and is alive. And for good reason. We are drawn to nature. It is good for us. With the absence of options we have resorted to our oldest and most basic support system: Mother Nature. Ideally we can maintain this collective habit long after this crisis ends. That months from now we all remember to sit out on the deck, to walk the dog a little longer, and to send our children outside to play rather than turn the TV on.
To clarify again, no one, not one person I have spoken with nor myself, is suggesting COVID-19 is a good thing. Perhaps though, there are lessons embedded in this disaster for us to learn. Things that we can take forward to be healthy and happier in ourselves, in our relationships, and in our larger global community. Perhaps there is an opportunity in this crisis to gain both personal and collective wisdom from the pain.