You’ve heard it on the news, scrolling through your social feeds, from your mom, your boss, your friends in your group chat, and basically everyone else on the planet. COVID-19 has taken a global impact, with China’s ignition, creating a national emergency for the US with states moving towards total lockdown, Italy already in full quarantine, and the spread and similar complications across countries world-wide. Not only is this a health crisis, but a financial, and emotional one as well.
Okay, let’s back up a bit. What is coronavirus? It is defined by John Hopkins Medicine as a disease which includes “symptoms [of] cough, fever and shortness of breath. COVID-19 can be severe, and some cases have caused death”. So far, there have been 318,649 confirmed cases world-wide, 13,675 deaths, and 96,006 recoveries (worldometers.info). Specifically dangerous for people 60 and older, this pandemic as it has been deemed, provides aggravation and panic for many.
When it began in China in December of 2019, it was only a matter of time before it ended up spreading globally, hitting Italy and the U.S hard as of March. Things began taking a turn for the worse around March 10th, as events, sports, schools, and businesses began being shut down. California, Illinois, and New York have already gone into full lock-down, with other states likely soon to follow.
While medical personnel are working around the clock to find a treatment to this disease, 45 adults have already volunteered to take a test vaccine. The first, a 43-year-old mother of two from Seattle. "This is an amazing opportunity for me to do something," she said (Roberts, 2020). People are making sacrifices and participating in whatever means necessary for the good of global health. Not only is this a trying time medically, but people are being laid off, the grocery stores have shelves empty and lines out the door, and toilet paper is found few and far between. Although many were doubtful at COVID-19’s severity just a week ago, it’s safe to say many are realizing the drastic effects this disease is taking on not only our country, but our world.
But wait, before you go close this browser because you can’t take any more coronavirus talk, I’d like to take a chance to bring light to the benefits that COVID-19 has brought with it. And, again, this is a stressful time or all, and should not be taken lightly. However, some may argue that this virus has provided a pause that the world needed. Below is a list of thing that COVID-19 unexpectedly brought on that may actually benefit you:
I’m sure you’ve already seen the images of the Venice canals, completely clear, fish swimming, swans returning, for the first time in years. It is at a time like this where we see our impact as human beings on our planet and can recognize our part in habitual disruption. It is a beautiful sight to see how, once humans are taken out of the equation, the world rights itself. This, we can learn from, as we internalize the part we play in this world and how we treat it.
MORE FAMILY TIME
Of course, we are speaking to those who feel they have a healthy family dynamic, and
for those who don’t, we empathize with the pain and frustrations those may have to endure during this time of quarantining. But for those who do, take advantage of this time with loved ones! Life is crazy busy and, really, when will you get another opportunity to all be in the same place at the same time? Make those memories, play that board game, bake those cookies with your Mom, teach your sister the makeup routine you just learned. Anything to connect - now is the time!
MORE SELF CARE AND RESTING
If nothing else, this is a time we can take to pause. We can re-evaluate, reassess our
desires, our goals, our relationships, ourselves. Take this time to reset and think about your true values, and what you want to accomplish, even if it’s just something you can do in this time of quarantining. Has there been something you’ve always wanted to do but keep putting off for one reason or another? (that you can do at home?) Is it learning to play piano on YouTube, or starting that food blog, or even just organizing your closet? During such a stressful time, it's easy to bury your head in the news and let your mind drift to scary places. Try to actively re-direct yourself to think about what this “break” that you’ve been given can offer you, and how you may even come out of this a different, more enriched person.
SEPARATION BRINGING US CLOSER TOGETHER
The term “social distancing” has unfortunately become a common phrase in our
vocabulary as of late. However, although we may not be able to be physically together, people are actively finding ways to connect. From digital happy hours with coworkers via Zoom, to FaceTimes with grandma each morning, to participating in live workout classes on Instagram, the possibilities are endless with how far people can go to maintain human connection.
I’m sure many of you have seen the videos of the residents in Italy joining in song from their balconies across the country. Talk about a beautiful way to come together! It’s time like these where we really see amazing things that never would have happened otherwise. It’s not every day that you see 20 Italians singing an un-orchestrated opera from their homes.
PRACTICING MORE GRATITUDE
During a time where we may feel as though we are stripped of a lot of our privileges,
such as traveling, going out to bars/restaurants, getting together with friends, even just going to work, it’s helpful to think about how grateful we will feel once we are able to resume back to our normal lives (whenever that may be). For what we may have once taken for granted (sitting in traffic on our daily commute), we may rejoice to have the opportunity to roll our windows down, get back into a routine, and reunite with our work wife. The opportunity to go see our grandparents, to go back to our favorite restaurant, to take that flight, to go on that date. The opportunity to live life to its fullest once again.
Whether you are religious or not, Pope Francis said it beautifully when referring to how life will return after this pandemic:
“Tonight before falling asleep, think about when we will return to the street. When we will hug again, when all the shopping together will seem like a party. Let’s think about when the coffees will return to the bar, the small talk, the photos close to each other…normality will seem an unexpected and beautiful gift. We will love everything that has so far seemed futile to us. Every second will be precious…”
So, maybe this is mother nature reminding us how lucky we really are, to be able to fully live day after day. Maybe this is her reminding us to appreciate all that is the human experience. Maybe this is our chance to start over, to begin again, to recreate ourselves, our mindsets, and our reality. Whatever you believe, think of this pandemic as an opportunity, and with it, amazing growth. Stay safe, healthy, and open to grow!