We’re not going to sugarcoat it, the pandemic did not leave us seeing the glass half full or making lemonade out of lemons. It felt like the world came crashing down and shattered life as we knew it into a million pieces. But as some normalcy has returned to our lives, we’re opening up our minds to the possibility that there was some good that came out of it after all.
We found purpose in our new day-to-day, being an anchor to family and friends in times of devastation and despair, becoming the super-moms and dads that our kids so greatly admire and learning to focus less on the frivolous things in life by embracing moments that actually matter. We were given opportunities to pursue new passions, to forge a deeper connection with the outdoors, to put mental and physical health above all else, and to spend more time at home with family than ever before. This year, let’s find more silver linings among the grey clouds.
Working From Home
When governments and companies began mandating employees work from home, it almost felt like a mini vacation with no commute, your refrigerator at your disposal for lunch and getting dressed from the top up. Now, many of us still find ourselves WFH, but with a change in mindset. In those first few weeks, you were probably taking calls and writing emails on your kitchen island or dining room table. Now, you’ve probably relocated to your own designated WFH space and felt your new set-up pay off. A place to cloister away from the kids and family dog, the home office has become a work retreat — a den of productivity and focus that we can walk away from when it’s time to unplug.
Ironically, many organizations who didn’t provide flexible work arrangements in the past have seen first-hand how this new way of working is good for both business and employees, and many are looking at how to keep implementing these practices in the future. Along with the cost savings on gas and transit, the time saved from commuting has left more room for things that are important to us like family dinner each night, reading with our little ones before bed and getting that early morning workout session in.
Fully immersed in this new remote reality, we’ve been given the flexibility we’ve been dreaming of for years. We now have the freedom to work where we like without being restricted by the location of our corporate offices. Some may choose to work out of the comfort of home, while others have opted to sign in from a family vacation spot or rental property instead. While living close to work used to be top of mind, priorities have now shifted. Families are moving to cities and towns in search of the housing options and community amenities that have become important to how they spend their days.
The pandemic put a pause on the little parts of our routines that we enjoyed most, be it grabbing coffee with a friend, heading to the gym or casually browsing a local store. To fill the void from these missing moments, we’ve spent more time walking, running, biking or just sitting on the front porch than ever before. Many of us have turned to the outdoors to help cope with stress and uncertainty and it’s no wonder why — maintaining a close connection to nature has proven to support cognitive function, physical health and psychological well-being. To some it may be out of necessity to get fresh air or to keep busy, but no matter the reason, it’s clear that the pandemic has brought each of us closer to the great outdoors.
Health & Well-Being
Global shutdowns afforded us more personal time. Time that many of us used to prioritize our health and well-being as our once fully-packed schedules cleared. Gyms, studios and sports programs may have closed, but we found other ways to put mental and physical health first. New workout routines were adopted with some setting up their own home gyms equipped with everything to break a sweat or practice meditation, while others found new passions in things like playing the guitar or painting serene landscapes. We ate healthier because we began cooking at home more often, we felt healthier because we walked every night and we adopted healthier styles of thinking thanks to therapists and life coaches alike. The takeaway here is that in the end, we all found our centre of gravity that kept us whole.
Not being able to see friends or family from other households has the ability to make anyone feel isolated, frustrated and out-of-touch. Despite the use of social media and technology keeping us connected, it was hard not to feel a loss of personal interaction, even impacting one’s sense of community. While the pandemic disconnected us, many found it brought immediate families closer together as they navigated through their new reality. In the wake of chaos, it’s these small moments like lingering over the breakfast table for 10 minutes longer or being around for a pre-dinner bike ride that have helped families forge stronger bonds and make memories together during these times.
If the pandemic has given us one positive takeaway, it’s perspective. It’s given people a sense of what truly matters in life, be it work-life balance, health, or connection to family and friends. We’ve gained a new appreciation for the luxuries that we’ve been afforded in life — those which we may have taken for granted before like having a roof over our heads, a job that allows us to provide for our families and being cared for by those we love. Family movie nights at home have superseded going to the cinema, more family dinners have been eaten at home than they have out, and we may not be going on vacation, but that’s okay. Our lives have become a bit simpler and slower-paced, but they’re filled with more purpose than they’ve ever been before.
The pandemic has undoubtedly left a mark on every facet of our lives, forever changing the ways we go about our day-to-day. However, our urban centres have faced the brunt of this everlasting change, going from bustling cities to ghost towns seemingly overnight. Luckily, we’re starting to see the silver lining as we learn how to better equip our cities to become as resilient as ever.