Most of my days have been pretty chill recently, since in New Zealand we have been in lockdown for 3 weeks! I wanted to talk a bit about it, especially the way we live during this time in comparison to our usual stress-inducing working lives.
So, what are some of the lessons we have been taught, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic?
Slowing down has its benefits
Taking time out and slowing down is a blessing these days, but it shouldn’t be. Since lockdowns and restricted work/social life were first implemented, I have seen many people voice the belief that we should not be constantly working in order to live and survive, we should be able to wind down and de-stress as we have in this time. But with the way the business world is structured, this can’t be the case. Usually, people’s lives are a vicious cycle of “work to live, and live to work.”
Personally, I’ve had the view that humans aren’t on Earth for the sole reason of working for some time now, which is why I was only too happy to be working 4 days a week for a while (a year ish), and loved it. It’s a much better pace, and gives you a balanced life where you still contribute to society, yet get to enjoy it.
There is no doubt that we are cogs and just mere worker bees for the people at the top, but we deserve to live the life we want. We also deserve to have better mental health. So use your holidays up, go to that event that looks fun even if you don’t have anyone to go with, enjoy time with your friends and family, find what you are passionate about, stop worrying about work when you’re not working, and for the love of god – take that sick day without feeling guilty.
Self reflection and implementing changes is vital
Another positive lesson most of us have learned during this trying time is that self-reflection is critical for moving forward.
Some people were forced to take time to sit and run things through their minds when they were made redundant because of Covid, others naturally went down the path of self reflection thanks to all that alone time. And self reflection is a great thing when you take note of what you’re thinking/feeling and questioning why. Then you can ask yourself how you can change something that is bugging you, and go forth.
I’m not sure about you, but the past year and a half has taught me that there is no better time than right now, pandemic or not, to make the changes we want in our lives. This is why I decided I needed to find a different job, figure out a career path, or go back into studying. I will be starting a new job next week, which I am very excited about.
Patience and kindness needs to be a bigger part of society
When the pandemic was at its worst in 2020 and the world was rife with uncertainty, many acts of kindness could be seen happening in society. This included people checking in on vulnerable folk, individuals helping out neighbours, and most people doing their part in following safety guidelines to protect others. And patience really was a virtue we all needed!
But even then, we could pick the selfish from the selfless, with hoarding of essential items being the obvious example. And some individuals even refusing to adhere to the rules, and being argumentative a**holes in a time when everyone needed a bit more joy around them, not misery.
What uncertain times have shown is that more people need to be kind and patient; the world would be a much better place for it.
What really matters
If there is anything the pandemic brought to our attention, it’s who we want in our lives, and what keeps us going when there is nothing else to do. And to also let go of what doesn’t serve us anymore.
Being in lockdown really highlighted the things we should be grateful for, and I think it’s safe to assume that for most people, family, friends, and/or pets would make the top of the list. Families and friends stayed connected despite the obstacles and that really shows that our relationships have a huge effect on us and our lives. Appreciating these connections has a positive effect on our mental health, especially in hard times. Therefore it’s important to pay attention to our relationships, and make sure they flourish.
On the other hand, it’s equally as important to cut the ties on some relationships, if you noticed in times of hardship that they don’t serve you well and are more of a strain on your life.
The lockdown period also brought forth unknown or long-lost passions for people; I have seen a rise in small businesses since the first lockdowns of 2020 and I am happy people tapped into their creative side when stuck at home, and are now sharing it with the world. Others clearly took a long, hard think about what mattered to them and decided to go onto a different career path. (Again, this is why the self-reflection is useful!)
We need better work environments
I think many became aware of how toxic, draining or damn right miserable their workplace really is when they had time away from it. From what I’ve seen, a lot of people have decided to work from home permanently after this, or in extreme cases, have quit the job they were in rather than go back to how things were. Others have started their own businesses during this time.
Humans need to be happy in the job they are in, otherwise they are not going to be productive… you’d think this would urge people at the top to provide a positive workplace atmosphere, with benefits and bonuses for everyone. Instead, they are too greedy to look after their employees, who have recently had to come to their own conclusions about what conditions they are willing to work under, and what they now want to refuse.
This lesson is one I was taught when I saw what great, appreciative, supportive bosses look like. Not everyone is as lucky as me. We need more owners, CEOs and managers to do good by their workers.
Nature is always there for us
Our short daily walks in nature… they really were the highlight of the day, weren’t they? (Okay, not really for an introvert like me, but I did enjoy them, a lot).
The way people were embracing their daily walks during lockdown shows how much nature has an affect on our mental health. For some, the fresh air was a much needed escape from isolation, for others it was a bit of normality, to be able to take a stroll in their area.
Not only was nature good for us during this time, but we were good for nature… carbon emissions dropped substantially in the weeks that most countries were locked-down at the same time, and animals were having a great time, thriving without human intervention and the industrialisation that usually chokes them.
Maybe the lesson here is that we can make our towns and cities more enjoyable by incorporating more nature; more parks and trees and wildflower patches. But if not that, surely we can all agree that we need to do something to help nature thrive again, instead of going back to stripping forests, slaughtering animals, destroying the ocean and burning our planet?
Governments look after their own
I think a great many people have just been made aware that their leaders really don’t give a cr*p about them. We have seen many governments’ true colours when it comes to controlling the virus, establishing safety measures and financial help.
Some governments (or, most governments?) have acted selfishly whilst others have approached the situation with compassion, but we need leaders in every country to put its people first. Unfortunately, capitalism isn’t about that. The lesson here is that we need a system that works for the many, not the few.
There are plenty more lessons that the pandemic and lockdowns have taught us. What is something you can think of?
Did you enjoy slowing down in lockdown life or are you happier when you are back at work?
Until Next Time,