Could The Coronavirus Actually Make Us Stronger?

Self, Health And Wellness

The word gift is the last word most people think of when they think of the coronavirus, however, upon personal reflection on how the virus has been affecting me, I have identified some positive aspects of the epidemic. This alone time has actually made me stronger and allowed me the opportunity to do some things that I would not normally have the time or inclination to do. 

I remember when I first heard about the need for social distancing and thinking to myself, how are people going to manage this, and wow, maybe this can really help people turn inward and discover things about themselves. On my personal journey with alone time during the COVID-19 crisis, I have been able to see this as a gift really, a chance to rediscover parts of myself that I had not been tending to and use the quiet time for self-reflection. 

Gifts from COVID-19

Slowing down and not being able to do the activities that I usually do, has allowed me to focus more on doing things more intentionally, allowing for mindfulness throughout my day. Keeping a natural rhythm, being more conscious as I go from one activity to the other. Without the need to rush from one activity to the next, I have been able to enjoy a more natural flow to my day. I have found that I relish the quiet morning hours, enjoying my tea, playing fetch with my cat, and taking a brisk active walk. There is a thoughtful quite rhythm to my day and flow. 

With my gym closed until further notice, I have had to be creative with exercise, especially hikes during mud season in Colorado!  Trying to beat the boredom of using the same trail every day, I have made it my personal mission to try several different trials or bike routes that I have not tried before. I have used these walks as an opportunity to practice mindfulness walking. I am conscious of taking in all that I see through my five senses, by being fully present on my walk, rather than checking messages, going through my mental list of to do’s, before starting my busy day. 

While my plan of visiting Italy this summer has been put on the back burner, I have been able to increase my daily Italian lessons. When Italy is safe to travel to, my Italian will be molto buono!  I have set personal goals to do 3 lessons a day and I look forward to practicing every day. 

Having college-age adults returning home to complete school online is actually a wonderful surprise that most empty nesters can relate to and appreciate. The pleasure of just having my kids at home, playing games we used to play when we all had more time like Uno, watching a movie together, going on a hike, or cooking together, has brought us closer together as a family. I realize this opportunity would not have happened without the virus. 

Reveling in my quiet time. Being able to take the time to read the books sitting on my nightstand I have guiltily looked at for months now. I have been not just reading books for work, but enjoying books for pleasure now. It has been a wonderful reminder of how nice it is to not always have an agenda and the requirement professional publications to further my education. 

One of the most surprising gifts of COVID-19, despite stories of people getting in fistfights in grocery stores over toilet paper, is seeing people coming together, seeing beautiful examples of our community chipping in and helping one another. I have been moved by seeing my people’s kindness and concerns for neighbors, and small businesses in the community. Seeing posts on Next Door of people offering to do food shopping and pharmacy runs, to families who cannot eat out twice a week as they usually do, making sure they buy gift cards instead of their local restaurants. Workers who are financially ok, offering to take a week off, so others who need the money can work instead. My heart swells daily with these stories of kindness and support. I have seen some deep compassion from clients as well, for the plight of those around them, mostly concerned for their family members and friends, rather than themselves. COVID-19 has brought us closer together as a community, with people realizing how interconnected we all are. 

The healing of the earth, as I am sure we are all seeing online, with pictures of dirty waterways, now flowing clearly, air pollution has significantly improved and greenhouse gas emissions are down. Being a nature lover and doing my part to minimize my carbon footprint, these environmental gains bring me considerable joy. Giving our planet a respite and time to heal is a wonderful consequence of this virus.

Having more time alone has given me time to reflect on my relationships and consider what relationships are enhancing my life and which ones are not having a positive impact. As I have been forced to let go of things that perhaps I didn’t really need in the first place (such as more activities, more things I can purchase), I have given myself more time for reflection. This self-reflection, in turn, has cleared my mind. Giving myself permission to let go of some relationships that are no longer benefiting me and perhaps are bringing more stress into my life than pleasure. Accepting that along with change, sometimes you don’t need to hold onto things that are no longer serving you and it’s OK to let it go. 

Deepening my meditation practice. Now that I am doing teletherapy, it allows me the chance to do short 10-minute meditations between clients in the comfort of my home. And with all the overwhelming news of the virus, I have had to make a conscious effort to write down all the things that I am grateful for, even on the days when there seems to be nothing but bad news. Seeking out the good things can be as simple as noticing a beautiful sunset. 

As I am advising my clients, I also need to take my own advice by limiting my exposure to the news, as well as social media. Both can be a never-ending cycle of news about the coronavirus 24 hours a day. Listening to one more expert weigh in and offer his//her opinion is not going to make me more prepared for the virus. Disconnecting and limiting social media has helped me focus more on what task I am working on, and less concerned with external stimuli, allowing more inward focus. I am also active in seeking positive human interest stories.  During challenging times they abound, but sometimes require effort to move to the forefront of our mind over the hysterics of the crisis.

Of course, spending time with pets has been a wonderful perk of COVID-19. Seeing how much calmer they are receiving more exercise, as well as enjoying my time playing with them, has been healthy for both of us. I have also enjoyed filling my bird feeder and seeing beautiful birds flock to the feeder every morning. Planting flowers, both literally and metaphorically, as I hope for better days ahead and blossoms that await in our future.

Has the Coronavirus turned our world upside down and resulted in some very uncomfortable changes and restrictions that we as a country are not used to? Absolutely! It has not been easy and we have all had to make personal sacrifices and face uncertainty about our future. But despite all of this, there is a silver lining. It can allow all of us to go deeper and find the well of strength and courage we all have within us. We can come together as a nation, as we have all been supporting one another and find more things that we have in common rather than seeing our differences. Personally, we can challenge ourselves to see some good in this situation, rather than just focusing on our discomfort.

I understand that facing all the changes and increased stress and anxiety that comes along with COVID-19 is challenging and may require some additional support. I am a Licensed Professional Counselor and offer teletherapy for clients. Please reach out if you are struggling and need support to manage anxiety. 

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