What Good Might We Glean From COVID-19?

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December 21, 2020
By: Katie McCann

Although I cannot fully comprehend the lasting impact that the COVID-19 global pandemic will have on every aspect of our lives, one thing I am sure of is that we can learn from this experience.

Quarantine offers  every person a chance to dig deeper into the behaviors, habits and relationships that they treasure and to let go of the things that no longer serve them.

Over the past few weeks, I have tried to sit with my feelings as much as possible, to begin to process my current situation and to imagine what the future holds.

Many emotions emerged: worry, anxiety, stress, anger, martyrdom and sadness.  But thankfully, I have also felt immense gratitude, peace, solidarity, calm, and happiness.

I have found myself asking, “What is this moment teaching us collectively?”

We’re All Grieving Together

This process is a form of grief.  People are grieving those who they have lost, loss of income, loss of freedom, loss of certainty, and people experience the anticipatory grief of a future that seems more uncertain than ever.  As with any uncomfortable feeling, the best way is through.  Don’t live in the space of grief for days or weeks on end, but rather, feel these feelings and let them pass through you.  Whether you’re in the denial, anger, depression, bargaining or acceptance phase, be patient with yourself.

Lack of Structure is Challenging

Daily routines & responsibilities give us a sense of purpose and drive.  Lack of structure can cause brain fog. If you have an increased amount of time on your hands, but you’re not as productive as you think you should be, that’s okay and normal.  Try to focus on the aspects of your day you can control, like getting enough sleep, eating when you’re hungry (as opposed to using food as a way to numb your feelings), stretching and moving as much as possible, getting fresh air, and staying hydrated.

What’s Really Important

This is a life altering opportunity for us to identify what’s actually, truly, and genuinely important in our lives.  Lean into this discovery phase. We are usually over-scheduled and stretched very thin, so quarantine is likely the only opportunity you will ever get to just slow down, sit with your feelings, and be with your family without life’s typical distractions and duties.

Sense of Community

I’m floored by the outpouring of love and support I have seen from communities across the country and from the world alike.  From sidewalk chalk drawings of encouragement, to cheering for healthcare workers, to public figures like Jack Dorsey donating $1 billion for relief efforts, it’s amazing to see how many people step up and do good in times of crisis.

Compare = Despair

I’ve played the lose-lose game of comparing myself with others my entire life. I have tried throughout this experience to flip this unhealthy comparison tactic on it’s head to see how fortunate I am during this trying time and to soothe myself with the practice of gratitude. I have a loving and supportive husband, a safe and spacious apartment, access to parks, the time to work on my business, health insurance, and endless ways to get wholesome food, among many other things for which I am endlessly grateful.

The U.S. Surgeon General has described the peak of this pandemic as “our Pearl Harbor moment.”  For many children, COVID-19 is thankfully the first time they have ever faced any type of adversity, disappointment, or fear on a real level.  When the dust settles, I hope everyone will be proud of how they acted, how they stepped up, and how they learned to be a more compassionate version of themselves.