COVID-19 has changed the game for the world this year. Events, jobs, relationships have all been compromised. Life as we know it has changed literally over night. The world has always been a chaotic place as we well know (thanks CNN), however pandemics are like kerosene to a fire and it has the potential to burn more than we can handle as a species that has become too comfortable with the superficial and mundane.
That is unless we keep the following in mind.
Minimalists were RIGHT all along
Your Prada shoes and sunglasses will not save you now, in fact those kinds of things have ZERO value in times of crisis. Bill Gates has recently mentioned how money has no real value in times like these. This is a great opportunity to realize that what really matters is NOT materialistic stuff you don’t need. This is in fact an opportunity to LEARN what really matters in your life. Relationships, fitness, personal meaning, these are things that will ultimately be what matters to all in the end, crisis or not, foundational aspects are what make you LIVE, everything else is just a meaningless distraction. Less is definitely more.
Health should ALWAYS be a priority
If you’re sick, nothing can really function. COVID- 19 has taught us exactly that, if the world is sick with a pandemic, financial systems freeze, logistics come to a halt and the flow of income is uncertain. Health is EVERYTHING. It should not take a global pandemic to teach us that but realistically it probably has (or so we can hope) . We should also hope that society does not forget this when things get back to “normal”.
Love & Empathy are more important than ever
Apparently the divorce cases in china has seen a surge during the pandemic. Now this might not be due to people despising their spouses, (it might), however it does bring into to question the point that, when we are literally stuck with people we have in our lives with no way out, do we REALLY want to be there with them? or are we just tolerating? This can be an opportunity to ensure you work on your relationships and take a good look at whether you are investing in the right ones, and if they are the right ones are you doing your part to help make the most of them?. Oh and your ego does not really help, humility makes it easier to adapt in times of crisis. Love can help a person survive a pandemic more functionally because the priorities are effective communication and self care. Not getting ahead and being “better” than your neighbor so you can drown in envy and/or self pity.
Special note to certain family members and the society at large: Being judgmental and deciding that your way is better than another or your “type” is better or your “culture” is better is also another unhelpful way to function in times of crisis (and all other times) as well.
Materialism, competition, narcissism, arrogance might help you in the “real” world on occasion and get you the external validation that most of us crave, however these are pointless traits in a world that does not see the benefit of capitalism and instead has to try and SURVIVE for the next day. Love and empathy however, creates, sustains, maintains networks and helps promote personal wellbeing.
Technology is a tool
I personally am very vocal about the dangers that our digital world may bring. Just like most experts on mental health, I agree with the notion that social media is hazardous on a large scale, however in times of crisis technology is one effective way of maintaining everything that needs to be maintained, examples include crisis communication channels, working from home options for essential service staff and delivery of medication and food. This is yet another example of how technology can help make the world more functional if used for the RIGHT things and not for the mere exploitation of others to make a dollar or gain baseless fame. Technology is like everything else in the world utilizable if utilized properly for functional reasons rather than destructive ones.
Your behavior and how you CHOOSE to respond matters
We as mental health practitioners repeatedly inform our clients of the importance of self awareness and self management, in times of crisis this notion is truer than ever. You have to choose to entertain your self, you have to make the effort to keep your relationships alive, you have to be mindful of washing our hands and you have to try to not panic. Effort is required in all areas of life especially for survival.
These are all things that matter regardless of the situation in the world, COVID-19 has only made these things more obvious. Some of us as privileged humans take for granted the comforts of our modern world. Most of us have been overcome with the dependency to care too much about too much that does not really add value to the world or ourselves in the long run. Imagine a world where we put the above aspects into practice when there is no crisis?, choosing to prioritize mindsets such as the above could be the answer to a better world of the future. Perhaps COVID-19, as stressful and unfortunate as it is, is actually a global lesson that nature itself has taken the liberty to teach us. The fact which remains is that nothing is permanent, especially YOU. All that remains is your perspective and drive to live in this finite world with its finite things. It is really up to you to decide where you want your energy to flow and what you choose to make the most of with the fundamentals nature has so graciously provided you. Your body, your mind , your conscience.
Shanelle De Almeida
Clinical Psychologist, MFT, CBT.
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