Many of us are starting to think about life after the pandemic. What will it be like? What will the new normal be?
In reality much depends a lot on what our experience so far, what we make of it all and, very importantly, how we are feeling.
The transition to working mainly from home and maintaining a daily routine is tricky. Those I have supported have been so understanding and appreciative. Being connected with friends online is manageable yes, but I’ve missed their physical presence. My sleep and mood have been affected at times (just ask my husband and children!).
While I will not negate these feelings or ignore our losses in any way, I can see some positives. We have been given a chance to focus on what really matters and to think about living life differently going forward.
These are some of the lessons I have learned, which may also resonate with you:
- Being with others: Connection to happiness
Zoom and Facebook or a visit via videoconferencing is fine, but this is not the same as seeing people in person. We humans crave physical contact, which neither Zoom conferencing nor social media can provide. This loss is especially profound for those living alone, where the lack of any physical affection has been particularly hard.
Making more time in my life to be with the people I love and to express affection when we are together is something to bring forward from this experience.
I have learned more than ever that experience together is inspiring and sacred. It deepens our sense of humanity and the need to be a kinder, more connected society.
A number of people have been referred to me who live alone. Feedback received indicates that the opportunity of a social distance walk and chat with the parish nurse has been really helpful, to enable them to discuss how they are feeling and to help reduce loneliness and isolation.
- Reducing stress
There have been a lot of things to feel stressed about during this pandemic. The risk of losing our jobs, becoming sick, or inadvertently infecting a beloved relative is frightening. Having to quarantine at home has kept us from employing our usual ways of coping with stress—like going out with friends or exercising at the gym. And being fed ongoing alarmist news has increased our anxiety. A constant state of high alert is not good for our minds or bodies, or for those around us.
Staying at home has forced (certainly strongly encouraged!) many of us to slow down and find new ways of being, including new ways to manage stress and anxiety. This has been positive for many of us though definitely not all. People of all ages have been in touch to discuss their thoughts and feelings with me, both by telephone and by email throughout ‘lockdown’. This has been a learning experience for me in my parish nurse role, in relation to how much people have valued of this support.
- Kindness towards others and helping those in need
This has been remarkable and humbling from my observations and experience. Focusing on and being kind to others can reduce our own worries. Helping others can help to keep us mentally, physically and spiritually well, as long as we remember to look after ourselves too.
Our parish nursing service has recruited five parish nurse assistants (PNA) to assist the parish nurse. Each PNA lives locally and holds a wealth of life experience, care and compassion. They will shortly be available to provide further support within our village/parish communities.
- Showing gratitude
I feel so grateful to our essential workers. Before the pandemic, I took so much for granted. Saying “thank you” goes a long way toward building good will. We can show more gratitude for all of the people and things that make our life easier and happier. Showing gratitude not only feels good. It encourages more kindness and generosity and helps build a kinder, more compassionate society.
Before lockdown, I forgot how to do without so many modern conveniences. We don’t need so much stuff; just the basic essentials. Research suggests that our well-being isn’t dependent on consumer products.
Kindness and generosity make us happier, so let’s create a healthier society – consume less and give more.
- We are stronger together
I’ve learned more and more that cooperation matters. Only by working together can we make a difference in the trajectory of this worldwide threat.
There is still much that needs correcting. Not everyone has good health or health care, and many people are living at the edge of poverty. Some people have been forced to go to work despite the risks, and others are dying at higher rates than the general population because of a long history of discrimination. This is unacceptable and needs to change. The pandemic has really opened my eyes to these inequalities and created a strong desire become part of that change.
Final thoughts and reflections
I’ve learned so much – our common humanity and our sense of interconnection, the importance of our relationships, resilience, gratitude, and doing with less. I still have a long way to go, but I feel so much more aware of that now.
I’ve witnessed so many wonderful examples of love, kindness and humility throughout lockdown within our own local parishes and beyond, and have really valued all the feedback offered to our parish nursing service. I am hoping to recommence our health and wellbeing drop in clinic very soon as many have requested.
Let’s continue working together with compassion and supporting for each other. Let’s create a healthier and sustainable future together.
Thank you for taking the time to read my reflections. I’d love to hear from you.
With Love and Blessings