Don’t get us wrong – the pandemic has been truly terrible. Almost everyone has experienced illness, grief, isolation, anxiety and frustration because of COVID 19. If we could snap our fingers and make it so the pandemic never happened, we certainly would.
Yet, it’s pretty amazing how individuals and society as a whole have adapted over the last year. Things that we thought were inalterable parts of life are now the norm. But as vaccines are becoming more widely available, we’re already looking ahead at a new kind of normal. And I’ve realized that there are parts of pandemic life that we should keep as we continue to adapt.
1. Not exposing people to your contagious illness
Before the pandemic, many people wouldn’t think twice about going about their usual routines if they were feeling under the weather. That needs to stop. Even after we achieve herd immunity, we hope that people will take contagious illnesses more seriously. If you have a cold or the flu, stay home. Don’t go to work, school, stores, the gym, etc. And if you absolutely must go out, wear a mask to protect others.
2. Being open about your mental health even when it’s not ok
Experiencing a collective trauma at the same time has allowed people to feel more comfortable telling colleagues, friends and family members that they’re not doing well on a mental health level. There’s been less of a need to pretend all is hunky dory when there’s an obvious reason for feeling down. I sincerely hope this continues and that people talk about their mental health the same way in which they talk about their physical health.
3. Outdoor hangs with neighbors
While social gatherings with friends may be less frequent, it seems that people have become closer than ever with their neighbors. Building relationships with neighbors is a great way to strengthen your community and ensure you have a built-in support system in case of emergency. Now, more than ever, it’s clear that it takes a village.
4. Treating healthcare and essential workers like heroes
Many of us have had the luxury of staying safe while working from home. Some people don’t have that option because we depend upon them for the everyday function of our society. We should remember this and treat these folks accordingly, not just during a crisis.
5. Video catchups with friends who live far away
To be totally honest, we’re a little Zoomed out these days. But when interactions with people who live nearby don’t need to be done virtually, it will be nice to continue having face-to-face virtual chats with loved ones who live far away. It’s definitely a more fun and intimate way to connect than calls or texts.
6. More flexible work options
If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that a lot of work-related stuff actually can be done virtually. I hope that companies remember this when it comes to providing more flexible options for working parents, individuals with disabilities and people who live in more remote locations.
7. Virtual school instead of snow days
Speaking of virtual productivity, we think this should apply to kids as well. We certainly can’t wait for them to be back in school full-time, but this has taught us that children can do school virtually when necessary. So, on days that would have been totally canceled due to extreme weather, perhaps they can have virtual school instead of missing the day entirely.
8. Having non-perishable supplies on hand
Think back to the early days of the pandemic. Do you remember that feeling of panic as you were trying to gather basic supplies and non-perishable food? That was scary! From now on, I’m going to make sure that my house is stocked with enough to last at least a couple of weeks. This way, we’ll be prepared just in case.
9. Getting creative about fun at home
I won’t lie – I miss traveling, going to movie theaters, amusement parks, and all that good stuff. But I’m happy about the ways that the pandemic has forced me and my family to find creative ways to have fun at home or in nature. We’ve invented games, explored more parks, taken up new hobbies and connected more over the past year. I hope we’ll continue to do that even after it’s safe to see the matinee.
I’ve come to realize that living through COVID 19 has made me more resilient, resourceful and grateful for the things I have. It’s tough to put a positive spin on the pandemic, but I find it helps me to stay sane to focus on the few good things that have come out of this experience.