We’re going into year three of the pandemic or what some like to refer to as the healthcare crisis. The word ‘crisis’ has a negative connotation but looking at the year ahead, lets focus on the positive lessons it has taught us and reflect on how we can make life even better going forward. I’d like to share a few things I’ve learnt:
1. Identify and manage stress
Admittedly, the first year of the pandemic was extremely stressful (and still is) as I found myself reading and consuming as much information about the virus as I possibly could. I wanted to know what it was, where it was, how it spread and what I could do to protect my loved ones and myself from it. It was an obsession, though an unhealthy one. To reduce stress, it was important to identify sources of stress and for me it was fear of contracting the virus and overthinking.
To limit overthinking, we learnt that it was best to just turn on the news for the morning, midday and evening updates. In between those hours, we could focus on work and on things that mattered to us. To reduce possibility of contracting the virus, stocking up on food and limiting exposure to others reduced stress. As long as we were home, we were safe. Home became our safe-haven, our sanctuary.
2. Make your home comfortable
Prior to the pandemic, Alex and I would often joke that we were boarders at our dogs’s house. They lived at the house all day, but we would just go home to spend the night before rushing off in the wee hours of the morning to work. Weekends were spent doing errands, meeting family and friends and so time at home was limited. Holidays were often spent abroad roaming the streets of a far off country.
The pandemic allowed us to really sit and observe the house. We rearranged furniture, decluttered, and bought new furniture that better suited our needs. Finally after ten years ‘living’ in this house, late last year we both commented how finally the arrangement was where it should be. We finally felt comfortable with the use of all our furniture.
3. Do things that give you happiness
An article in the New York Times talked about how we turned to baking and crafting during the pandemic because it gave us a sense of ‘control’ when everything outside was not in control. This was certainly true for me. I spent weekends finishing off craft projects, learning new skills, getting healthier, sleeping more, and rekindling my love of baking and trying out new recipes. There were foods I wanted to eat, but our house was far and delivery not an option. We cooked more, baked more, had less processed foods and lost a few kilos in weight each. Our epileptic dog became healthier with daily walks, and our plants also started living their best life and were no longer left to the “will of the gods.” We took our first family photo with our dogs after 9 years together.
4. Set up a routine
When you are home 24/7 its important to have a routine that gets you ready for the day and end the day to avoid the blurring of ‘work’ and ‘home’. We set up a routine, woke up at the same time each day, unless we were very tired, exercised, had breakfast, read the news then get ready for work. To end the day, we’d walk out into our garden, water the plants and walk the dogs. The routine gave us a start and end to the working day.
5. Have compassion, be grateful, and share
This may be one of the most important lessons of all. Time is limited and you never know when your time will end. You cannot tell what a person is going through by just looking at them or seeing their actions at a certain time. Everyone also handles stress differently and was experiencing the pandemic through different lens. Some live alone, some with large families and elders, some in small apartments, some in large houses, some with family in other countries. Whatever the circumstances, we must all respect others and be compassionate and grateful for what we have. Be kind and show kindness.
This pandemic, I’m grateful for my life and the opportunities I have. I’m grateful for being able to work from home, have a job and my loving family. I’m also grateful to the quality of Thailand’s internet network allowing us to work from home with ease. I’m grateful for all the little things like hearing birds chirp as I work, feeling the soft fur of my dogs as they lay by my feet, and being able to have lunch and dinner with my husband.
6. Seize the opportunity
Every cloud has a silver lining. There are always opportunities if we look for it and work for it. In less than a year, many companies were able to adopt technology and switch to online work. Businesses converted to online stores and reduced overhead costs. (Many companies are still suffering, but I am not going to discuss that here). Nothing in life is permanent and so we must therefore do the best with what we have. Many, at each their own capacity, were able to show their best versions of themselves, helping others who were not as fortunate. There is always a way to help others if only we looked for it.
We don’t know how long this health crisis will last. Let this year be a good year and one where we achieve our goals, get our health in order and become better versions of ourselves. We don’t know what will happen, but we know that we can start it out on a positive note and try to make each day better than the last. What have you learnt these past two years, what are you grateful for? What do you want to do next?
I have a few goals I want to achieve, and one of them is my return to writing. Miss you all.