Column: Embrace the opportunities to grow
Our world has been moving faster and faster in recent times.
A major breakdown of our norms seemed inevitable. And this pandemic brought us to our knees.
When and how we eventually get back to life as we knew it is still uncertain. And the way we will do things is inevitably going to be different, at least for a little while.
The past few weeks have taught us to rethink how we go about our daily routines, who we interact with, what we touch and how to incorporate better hygiene into our lives (i.e. handwashing).
It’s also emphasized the things that matter most to us.
Many people have described the stay-at-home/shelter-in-place orders as being stuck at home.
I understand that sentiment. For those who get cabin fever or reside in a small space and now are confined to that space with loved ones 24/7, it can be difficult.
I feel fortunate. I have found my time at home to be one of the greatest gifts.
Working remotely and helping my children with distance learning from one location — the home — has removed a stress I didn’t even know I carried.
Not having to bounce back and forth from one activity to another — between work, visiting loved ones, grocery shopping, kids’ activities and more — has felt amazing.
The slowed pace, stillness and lack of moving about on a regular basis has been restorative.
Don’t get me wrong, other stressers have popped up, like helping my children with assignments for school, but overall this time has been a blessing.
Here are just a few of the gifts and lessons we can explore during this time:
Patience: In recent years, in particular, the modern age, we have grown increasingly impatient.
The onset of social media and the ability to have instant, or near-instant, gratification has made it almost impossible for many of us to understand the meaning of patience.
But now we must practice it as we wait in lines to enter stores and restaurants and stand six feet apart.
Online orders are backed up due to demand for certain products, thus we must wait longer than the wait time to which we have grown accustomed.
It’s good for us to remember what it’s like to wait for something because once we get what we want, we have a deeper appreciation for it.
Self-care and awareness: Our lives were busy pre-pandemic. Many of us were consumed with work and other stressers and barely had time, or made the time, to fully care for ourselves the way we should.
Now, those of us who are not essential workers are home and we have an opportunity to look inward and reflect on how we can make changes — even subtle ones — in the ways we now live and once we ease back into post-pandemic life.
Granted, we have assumed new roles and routines while balancing work and family life from our homes.
But this is our time, something we often don’t recognize for ourselves. And we should practice a little self-love.
There are other bonuses, too. We can wear lounge pants or pajamas all day and there’s no need to wear makeup.
We have an opportunity to re-learn to be comfortable in our own skin and see our natural beauty. It’s there.
We should be gentle with ourselves, though. We can’t put too much pressure on ourselves.
It’s OK if we eat a few too many cookies, don’t get the workout in, or binge watch way too many shows in a week.
Getting things done: Most of us have a to-do list. Mine is ever-growing and it seems if I ever get a chance to cross off one thing, I add four more in its place.
This time at home has given us a chance to look around the home and get to some of things we may not have had time to do in the past, or have just pushed off for another time.
That time is now, at least for me. I can finally squeeze in a few projects.
Connections: We are faced with our mortality on a daily basis, as we see the numbers of those who have COVID and those who have died of complications due to COVID increase, and we take measures to protect ourselves from catching the virus.
Many of us have friends or family members, or at least know of someone, who has had or has COVID.
This all makes us think deeply about the people in our lives — loved ones near and far — and moves us to reach out to them, not only to check in on them but to let them know how much they mean to us.
Family, friends, neighbors — those we haven’t seen in a while, and those we saw before we started lockdown — are on our minds.
The individuals we interacted with and developed friendships with at places we frequented pre-pandemic — at grocery and retail stores, the post office and restaurants — are on our minds.
They all should be.
Keeping in touch is important to our mental health and that of those in our lives.
Laughter: It’s one of the best medicines and we all need it, especially now.
There’s a lot of sadness in the world. And if we let ourselves dive too deep into sadness, we might stay there too long.
We need a little boost every now and then, to take a step back and let things be as they are.
Laugh at the fact our hair is too long. Laugh at the extra charging cords laying all over the table. Laugh at the empty ice cream container in the garbage.
This precious time is ours. Embrace it.
Deborah Rose is a lifelong New Milford resident who has worked at The Spectrum since its inception in 1998. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.