Going out for an afternoon coffee, walking downtown with my goofy doodle Hudson, and casually stopping to get a few things at the store. Chatting with the cashier about the weather. All luxuries that us extroverts are longing for. A few small gestures we might have taken for granted that we can only dream of during these turbulent times.

These are challenging times for just about everyone and it is important to gather yourself around your circumstance. I heard a podcast from Brené Brown (my idol) the other day on comparative suffering. While it doesn’t serve us to compare our suffering to others and be plagued by guilt, I find a delicate balance of counting our gratitudes – as it could always be worse – and sitting with your uncomfortable feelings of sadness, grief, or frustration is needed to feel validated and seen. I started thinking about some of the positives this great pause has granted me.

There are a few things this pandemic has gifted us that many would have never experienced if we weren’t forced to “shelter in place.” 

1. YOU time.

Use this time to focus on your self-improvement. If you’re single, it’s time to become the best version of yourself and also focus on you! Many of us are distracted by our social groups or dating and put our own self growth on the back burner. Now is your chance, you might not have this time ever again. Make self-care your best friend.

If you are sheltering with a partner, don’t forget it is so important to have alone time especially when you are stuck at home for too long with your significant other. Maybe you opt for a walk on your own this evening or watching your favorite new show, Little Fires Everywhere, in the other room. Want to pick up a new hobby? Read that self-care book? Learn a language? Focus on fitness? You have the time. How do you want to spend it? What version of yourself do you want to be when this time comes to an end?

Many of you might think, “well I am now homeschooling and a single parent working full-time remotely – what free time!” This could be five minutes of intentional time dedicated to you. A song, a walk, even a breath. If you set the intention that this time is for yourself, it holds value.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

2. Family Matters.

Many of us work long hours and don’t have the means to be at home with our families. The Shelter In Place has forced many of us to spend more time with our loved ones. Judging by my niece and nephew’s experience, this could be a time your children look back on fondly. What a privilege to have your parents at home! To bring back family dinners, game night, and crafts! This will be a time we will want to cherish with our families, to shift back to our roots of family values – something I have seen deteriorate over the years as an educator. If your family is social distancing or far away, set up a Zoom call, virtual game night, or even watch a movie together using Netflix Party. Family is important but don’t forget sometimes friends are family, all families look different. Reach out, stay connected, and be sure to check in on one another.

Photo by Jaco Pretorius on Unsplash

3. Slow down.

Slow down, really experience it, appreciate it. This might be the only time we have the option. I live in the Bay Area and quite frankly, we needed this. When I was younger people took the time to wait in lines or politely chat in stores. Nowadays, I am rushing to pay at the grocery store, as to not hold up the line in fear someone might get upset. Since the Shelter In Place, I have seen people come together, offer help, and generally slow down. I invite you to take a walk. Look around and appreciate nature. Wave hello to a neighbor across the street. Just sit there. Think of your goals and what you want your life to be. Or just enjoy sitting in the sun.

Coming from someone who has anxiety, is a teacher, and is currently in grad school, this entire ordeal has taught me to take a pause, be present, and intentional in my work and self-care. During this time, you might not have much energy, do only what is necessary and be kind to yourself if you’re not at your normal face-paced Wall Street self.

Photo by Fuu J on Unsplash

I want to note that many do not have the luxuries listed above during these times. Some work on the frontlines, others lack resources, or are not in a safe place for quarantine. We are all in this together. Reach out and check on friends you might be worried about. Be compassionate to others, we are all doing our best and you never know what goes on behind closed doors. Please use and access resources. You are not alone.

Our world is forever changed. I am choosing to evolve for the better. Slowing down, being intentional, and remembering that relationships matter. Never forget what it was like to take a great pause – greet a neighbor, to look up at clear skies without pollution. Remember what potential this world and you have.


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