Can you believe that it has been one full year since Covid uprooted all of us from our normal lives?
If you think about everything we went through in the last 360 days, it is almost too much to comprehend.
- We were faced with instability in essentially every aspect of our lives; we never knew what changes would happen tomorrow
- Schools shut down and we had to learn how to educate our children without a teacher present, while juggling our own careers
- We had to learn how to be okay without social interaction and communicate through screens and windows
- We had to deal with all of the anxieties of job insecurity
- The election
- Major social movements happening
- Crazy weather-induced disasters
…And that’s just touching the surface!
As we come up on one year of Covid this month, it seems like it should be a time to mourn lost opportunities and missed plans.
But even more-so, I think this month should be a celebration of everything we have learned and how much we have grown.
Here are 10 lessons learned over this last year of living through a global pandemic:
1. A mindset rooted in gratitude will support you through just about anything.
The gratitude mindset is something a lot of people I surround myself preach; and this year I became a true believer in the power of gratitude. Our minds are so conformable and your mental and physical wellbeing are so connected to your thoughts. It’s incredibly easy to be negative and to focus on things that aren’t going right. But I promise you, you can put a spin on anything to make it positive.
2. Worrying about things out of your control won’t benefit you at all.
I’m a worrier. Always have been. But this year has been life changing for me in the fact that I learned how to stop worrying about things I can’t control (which this last year was just about everything). If I found myself worrying about something, I would stop and think, “Is this something I have control over?” Focus on what you can control and let everything else happen as it does.
3. There is power in being present and appreciating the small stuff.
Admire the little things; for they are actually big things. When you and your family’s health are compromised and when there is so much uncertainty in the world, you realize one thing; all you care about is that your family is healthy, happy and safe. It seems silly to worry about anything else. I hope that I can keep that mindset as we move forward.
In addition, being present in the small moments and focusing on the small things has become inherently important. So much of our living now (and especially in this last year) is in our imagination; in our memory. That’s why when we’re in an experience, no matter how significant or seemingly insignificant, it’s important to be present so we can call upon those moments to sustain us through the shadow-y parts when we forget or when it’s not available.
4. You can do anything you put your mind to.
I bet every single person had at least one thing in 2020 that caused them to pivot. When the world experienced massive changes in such short periods of time, every single life was uprooted in some capacity. Never have I had to work so hard to figure things out, but I learned that I can do a lot more than I think I can. We are tougher and more creative than we think. Moving forward, if we can channel that same mental toughness and creativity in times of struggle and in times of growth, there is nothing that will stop us from doing what we want to do!
5. Teachers and essential workers deserve much more gratitude.
When I was growing up, my parents made me work in customer service jobs so I would appreciate customer-facing workers more. Us parents all got to experience the same scenario as “teachers” this year. I had my preschooler home for a month and I about lost my marbles. I would think to myself daily, “How do teachers do this!?” Now, I have always respected and appreciated teachers, but now that I have somewhat been in their shoes, the amount of gratitude I have for what they do has grown exponentially. My sincere hope is that as a collective whole, teachers will gain a lot more respect, appreciation, and grace than ever before.
Essential workers, too. I may not have experienced first hand what they have to do on a daily basis, but our world without them is not a world I want to be in. The essential workers kept this world moving and thriving the best it could during this terribly tough time. Major thanks to all of them.
6. Spending time with the people you love is under-appreciated
When Covid hit last March and everything was newly shut down, everyone was “stuck at home” with their families. While the situation wasn’t good, I remember a common thought I had was, “Wow, I am really blessed for this extra time with my family!”. For me, I don’t want it to take another global pandemic for me to commit to being with my family and spending quality time with them. Time is precious! I have so many moments and memories with my family that I would have never gotten if it wasn’t for the pandemic.
7. Kindness goes a long, long way.
One of my favorite memories of 2020 was in April. I was walking around the block with my daughter and paper hearts filled the windows of so many homes. An older couple crossed paths with us and they said, “You are doing a great job! Keep smiling and hang in there!”. I needed that more than anything and it completely changed my mood and my day. That little moment is one I think I’ll always remember.
When I think about the outstanding people of 2020, they’re people who didn’t necessarily make the biggest difference – it’s the people who were kind. I get emotional thinking about all of the kind people who made a difference in someone else’s day by simply being kind and showing humility and empathy towards others. It gives me so much hope for the future and inspiration for how I can be better.
8. Self-love and mental health are worth spending a lot of time unpacking.
This last year has given us all a little extra time to focus on ourselves. I was able to find new hobbies and make it a point to do something every day that benefited my happiness.
Pre-pandemic, I was too focused on what I needed to get done and what was next. When forced to slow down this last year and focus more on myself and my needs, my mental health benefited more than I can explain.
The biggest thing I have learned is that you become what your thoughts are and what you take in. Spend time taking in positive messaging through books and uplifting social media accounts. Surround yourself with positive people. Engulf yourself in things you enjoy doing. Those things, my friends, are priceless for true happiness and contentment.
9. Preparedness is a key to less anxiety.
The derecho (and other big weather events across the US) taught me one of the biggest lessons: be prepared for anything.
When the power went out, our gas tanks were half empty, we didn’t have a generator, and we had absolutely no reserve of food. This was not exactly ideal when we had a 2-week-old at home. We had to flee the area in order to survive, which wasn’t easy with no gas. Being at least a little prepared for an area-wide power outage is helping me sleep a lot better at night.
In addition, Covid definitely shined a big spotlight on how insecure any job can be. I learned this year that having some savings to fall back on if disaster strikes can stop a lot of anxiety. I have never been a “saver”, but I am making an effort to put away what I can and it feels like a huge relief.
10. It’s never too late to celebrate something.
Did you miss something in 2020? Maybe you had a child graduate from school, were supposed to get married, or were supposed to go on a long-awaited family trip. Whatever you feel sad about “missing”, keep this in mind: it is NEVER too late to celebrate something. If we’ve learned anything in the last year, it’s that each day is a blessing and the small things in life are what matter. Take a moment to celebrate when you can. And when it becomes safe, throw that party, go on that vacation. You’ll certainly appreciate it more than you would have a year ago!
As the world gets back to “normal”, I’m sure we will all fall back into our normal ways of thinking and our normal schedules. But, my hope is that the lessons we learned in the last year will resonate with us in the years to come and that we have changed for the better.
What lessons did you learn in this last year of Covid that I missed?
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