Lessons from the pandemic and living with ‘the new normal’
We are now in the fifth month of the social isolation, and in some cities, lockdown following the spread of the coronavirus. I am constantly reminded that this lockdown is a matter of privilege to many like us. We have a comfortable home, reliable internet, food easily available and a means to earn our living. I for one am even luckier because I live with ample space to myself and no interference from family members and so far, have had good health.
Many don’t have these luxuries. At the start of the lockdown, we horrifyingly witnessed thousands of people walking for days to reach their hometowns with children and belongings on their shoulders.
Several of them died in accidents or of heart attacks due to exhaustion or starvation. There are others who have been doing poorly on the health front, both physical and mental and some others are living in confined spaces dealing with abusive partners or family members.
But not everything has been negative as we have seen many of our friends reconnect with family, spend quality time with their spouses and children, take up new hobbies or resume old ones which had been forgotten in a hectic work schedule, tick off pending items on a bucket list or while away the time to recover their energy.
So, what have I been doing with my time?
Almost always the comment I receive from people who know me well is that probably this is the longest I have stayed at home in many years. True, because for the last few years I have been travelling constantly to speak at international events or attend fellowships. Prior to my work at Safecity, I worked for an airline and travel was part of my job for almost 20 years.
I have enjoyed being at home and reconnecting with the space, finding my nooks and corners to work from at different times of day and night! Yes, like most people my workdays are extended and since I speak a lot at events, I have to find the best lighting for my online experience. I have also enjoyed spending time with my mum who lives with me and Facetiming my nieces who call me when they are bored or have something important to share.
I would like to share some of my learnings from this lockdown period.
- Be present, try not to worry about the future. Lots of things are out of our control like the pandemic. We have to make the most out of it. So, whilst I had to cancel all my travel, in a way I was happy to be home and decided to concentrate on a couple of things like getting back into a regular exercise routine. This further led to a meditation practice and lots of self-reflection exercises. It has made me stronger, calmer and rested.
- Channelise the excess energy into doing things you love. Yes, we are locked up in our homes but think about all the time and energy spent rushing around in traffic. The same energy and time can be used to reconnect with family and friends or reacquaint yourself with hobbies, new and/or old. For me, I used the time to improve my online facilitating, speaking and interviewing skills. Through the various online media, I have hosted or spoken at several events, almost a couple every week. I have even facilitated an entire summit and cohosted a conference.
- Don’t underestimate the Power of One. Very early on during the lockdown I learned how to use digital streaming software for my live casts and good practices in using conference apps. Every time I tried something new online, I invited people to experience it or showed them how to do it. I hosted many interviews with leaders from different areas of expertise and they were intrigued with the software. Soon I noticed that many of them launched their own live casts and shows. It made me feel extremely happy that I was a catalyst in helping them navigate the digital world with confidence.
- Just do it. Like the Nike tagline, you have to take the first step. No one is perfect. We are traversing uncharted territories during this pandemic. It is requiring us to adapt quickly, think out of the box, push our boundaries further than our comfort zones permit. We have no clue what the future holds, so the best we can do is experiment, try out different things and decide for ourselves what works for us or not. Over the last five months, I have done an entire podcast series, adapted my workshops to the virtual format, made myself and my organisation more visible globally and have started several new innovative projects that are testing my capabilities. Some of them may be successes and some not. But I can confidently say that I tried, and I would have learned a lot in the process.
- Be kind to yourself and others. We are tired of hearing that this is a period of pause and re-set. But to be honest look around you. That’s exactly what the world needed, and the Universe gave us that to remind us to be kind to ourselves and others. It took just a month of locking up humans at home for the Earth to regenerate itself, for rivers, animals, birds and plants to thrive and for the air to breathe again. So, what stops us from taking that pause to breathe in and not rush into mouthing that unkind thought or doing the harsh deed? We have so many examples of individuals and communities reaching out in solidarity and helping each other get through this crisis. It is the inspiration we need to remind us that at heart we are all good and kind.
- Prioritise the people and things that matter. If nothing else, this time has shown us that we can survive the very worst, but life is too short. The virus can strike any moment and take a loved one away. Let’s reach out to the ones who matter and express love and gratitude, forgive past mistakes and be mindful and conscious about what we have. We definitely don’t need to consume excessively and can survive with the basics. But we cannot thrive without love, companionship and community.
As we prepare for unlock mode, let’s reflect on the last few months and make our own lists of lessons learned. Let us collectively work to creating a better world for ourselves and others. Ultimately, it is the power of one that makes the collective stronger.
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)