Looking for positives amidst the pandemic by Caitlin Herbert
2020 – what can I say? It has been a crazy year to say the least and it has often felt like the bad news has just kept on coming.
At the start of the year we all witnessed the devastating bush fires in Australia. Shortly after this there was a worldwide sadness regarding the unfortunate death of Kobe and Gigi Bryant.
The UK faced several months of storms with winds reaching up to 90mph, causing damage to homes and properties. We then watched in fear as Boris Johnson addressed the nation with the news that we’d be going into lockdown.
During the lockdown there was public outrage regarding the unfair killing of George Floyd – which led to worldwide protests and riots. And most recently we have witnessed the damage and disruption caused by the explosion in Beirut, Lebanon.
With all of this going on in the world, it is completely normal to have experienced feelings of despair, panic, worry and sadness.
Happy and Grateful
Here at Vanilla Recruitment we have a weekly tradition of listing the things we are ‘happy and grateful’ for, every Monday, in order to start the week off in good stead.
For me personally, I find it is a fantastic way of ‘counting your blessings’ – focusing on the good things going on in your life, which in turn deflects the focus away from any negative emotions you may be feeling.
This gave me an idea to write a blog which focuses on the positive outcomes that we can all take from 2020, to help anyone who is feeling those aforementioned, negative emotions – with the aim to focus instead on the good things going on, and how we can all learn and grow from this pandemic, in various aspects of our day-to-day lives.
The positives are the smallest and simplest things
Although in many respects the pandemic has caused stress, sadness and worry – one major positive that I have personally noticed is the newfound sense of community and togetherness – after all, we have all lived through this strange situation together. We now have something in common with every single person living in the U.K.
In the early stages of lockdown when supermarket shelves were left empty due to panic buying, I noticed an influx of social media posts from my connections, actively seeking to help those who may be without food, in particular the elderly, the poor and the homeless. I witnessed groups being set up whereby members of the public got together to collect food donations, which were then hand delivered to local people in need.
I also picked up on the fact that a lot more of us were happier to talk to one another when we did get to leave the house for those essential shopping trips. Strangers were making conversation with one another in shop queues, as we were happy to see people other than those in our ‘social bubbles’, whereas before many of us would have just put our heads down or scrolled through our phones.
On a similar note, I noticed a lot more passers-by smiling at one another or greeting each other with a friendly ‘good morning’ or ‘good afternoon’. Although a small gesture, it really goes a long way. They do say smiles are infectious after all and it made a change from all of the doom and gloom going on in the media.
Another great example which shows the heightened sense of community is the fact that we all came together every Thursday night at 8pm, to clap and show respect for our NHS. Every week the clapping would get louder, with some neighbours beeping horns and letting off fireworks, whilst others displayed paintings and rainbows in their windows – a true celebration to show recognition for all of the hard work going on behind the scenes to fight the virus and save lives.
In general, a lot more gratitude was shown for our ‘key workers’, and those people in typically lower paid/lower valued jobs experienced recognition for the vital roles they played in order to keep the public safe on the front lines.
Had it not been for the pandemic slowing our lives right down, isolating us so that we were grateful for the tiniest bit of human interaction or the smallest acts of kindness, would this sense of community have been the same? This is something I personally doubt, because through no fault of our own, life in the 21st century has become very fast paced and technologically driven – making it easy to go about our stressful day-to-day lives, paying little to no attention to those not in our immediate circles.
I hope that this sense of togetherness continues and that we can all still take the time to express gratitude to one another, be kind to strangers and look out for those less fortunate.
Making each day count
Admittedly there have been times throughout lockdown where the days have felt never ending, and at times I have felt as though I was a character in the film ‘Groundhog Day’, living the same day on repeat, over and over again.
I expect many of us would have experienced something similar throughout this time but shaking myself out of this funk and realising that this is how things are going to be for the foreseeable was very enlightening.
I, like many others, realised that with all of this newfound time on my hands, I had the time to do things I normally wouldn’t get the chance to do and therefore wanted to grasp the opportunity to make the most out of it.
Instead of wasting hours glued to a television series or scrolling through social media, I took the view that my time would be much better spent visiting friends and family, reconnecting with old friends, becoming more active and appreciating my local surroundings. Of course, the beautiful weather we’ve had helped with the latter.
I have therefore made some amazing memories and new experiences that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to if the Monday-Friday, 9-5 working life had resumed as normal.
Although we will soon return to normality, and our free time will once again be tight, I hope that I, and others, keep this newfound outlook, and we look up more often from our phones/computer screens to appreciate what’s around us and make the most out of every day!
In the age of social media, it can be very easy to become self-critical. Constantly comparing your life to others online. Whether it be striving to achieve unrealistic beauty ideals on Instagram or feeling guilty that your old classmates have more successful careers than you on LinkedIn – it really is hard to escape.
During the lockdown, I have felt myself becoming increasingly more aware of the media I consume and how it makes me feel.
Initially this began at the start of lockdown, when the world seemed completely crazy and one media outlet was saying one thing whilst the other was saying the opposite. WhatsApp groups were beeping off every 2 seconds with fake news articles and conspiracy theories were all over Facebook. There was complete information overload and so to squash the stress this was causing, we all had to be extremely mindful of what information we took in, and what we let go in one ear and out the other.
Going back then to the topic of self-love and social media, I have now began utilising this concept in my every-day life. If certain content makes me feel anxious or low about myself, I simply unfollow or unsubscribe from that source – as have many of my friends and family members.
I believe this pandemic has made many of us realise how fragile life can be, and how things can change at any given moment.
In a nutshell, I think that many of us have taken the view that life is too short to be anything other than happy and have realised what a waste of time it is to be worrying about the things we cannot change!
Who cares if we’ve put on a few extra pounds over lockdown? The main thing is that we’re safe and well.
I hope this blog has helped you to take some positives out of this crazy year and realise that the world isn’t all bad and each day is exactly what you make of it!
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” – J.K Rowling
Written by Caitlin Herbert.