“7 things I really hope we remember when this is all over”

To quote the indomitable Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives of the coronavirus lockdown. You know the sort: that we’re bored, we want to sunbathe, we’d like to pick up a cornetto from the local corner shop, we’re sick of eating tinned food, we’ve watched everything on Netflix. We can’t watch the news anymore, we’re terrified of the daily Covid-19 death updates, we’re trying to avoid the daily death tally. We want to go to the cinema, to the beach, to the pub – oh god, how we want to go to the pub! We need a haircut, or a perm, or highlights, or colour on our roots. We miss our friends, we miss our family, we miss using toilet paper without calculating how many sheets are left.

We miss working in a proper office with actual people. We even miss the daily commute (almost, anyway).

However, while this is undoubtedly a time of uncertainty and confusion, there’s room for reflection, too. And, if you only look hard enough, you’ll realise there are some positive life lessons we can take away from all of this.

With that in mind, then, here are the things I really hope we remember when this is all over.

How little we need – or, rather, how much we have

In the beginning, we were all wrapped up in this big toilet paper buying debacle. As panic buying abates around the globe, though, we’re all learning to live with what we have. To share what we do have with others (I’ve left fresh fruit and vegetables on my neighbours’ doorsteps, they’ve sent me loaves of bread). To donate when and where we can to the NHS, to domestic abuse charities, to animal rescue centres. To buy local, whenever we can, in a bid to support small businesses. 

To, above all else, find enjoyment in the little things, whether that’s enjoying the feel of the sun on your face, a long phone call with a loved one, sharing a smile with a stranger (from two metres away), or a slice of fresh bread and butter. Because, when we count our blessings in this way, we realise how much we already have… and how little we really need.

The value of human contact

Real-life connection is the essence of wellbeing. And, while WhatsApp messages and FaceTime is better than no contact at all, there’s no denying this ongoing lockdown has made us realise that there’s no comparison for time spent together IRL.

Right now, all we want to do is sit and chat without worrying what our face looks like on screen. We’re sick of dealing with poor WiFi connections. We’re tired of conversations dropping in and out of signal. Because… well, because we’d rather hug our loved ones instead.

We’d like to sit next to them, feel their warmth against ours, as we chat over mugs of tea and share slabs of homemade cake. We’d like to drop in on our mums without warning. We’d like to go out for brunch with our friends. We’d like to cuddle all the babies who’ve been born that we’re yet to meet, take our pal’s new dog for a walk, console those who’ve lost someone to this awful virus. 

To be there for one another, present and in the moment.

There’s no such thing as an “unskilled worker”

In this strange age of social distancing and lockdowns, many of us have come to realise the importance of nurses, care workers, supermarket employees, firefighters, construction workers, public transport staff, 111 call handlers, delivery drivers, teachers, TAs, rubbish collectors, police officers, farmers, bakers, gardeners and countless others.

After all, society is a lot like a Swiss watch, in that, without even the smallest wheel, it won’t work.

Let us hope that, when we come out the other side of this pandemic, no worker is ever described as “unskilled” again.

We are incredibly lucky to have the NHS

Once upon a time, we were all obsessing over social media updates from our favourite celebrities. Nowadays, though, our attention has turned to posts from the healthcare heroes fighting to save lives amid the ongoing pandemic.

It makes sense, of course: we’ve always been captivated by tales of courage and bravery. Of selfless sacrifice. Of superheroes. And these people are fighting to keep us safe. They’re risking their own health to ensure the safety of everyone else. They’re sacrificing time with loved ones in order to ensure that every Covid-19 patient in ICU gets the best care possible.

But please remember this: while NHS staff are undeniably the standout stars of the coronavirus pandemic, this is nothing new for them. They have always, always, always been there for us, and will hopefully be there for many years to come, too.

Work-life balance is far more important than we realise

There is nothing wrong with loving your work, and it’s brilliant if you do. But whether you do or don’t, it is easy to get caught up in never switching off from it properly.

However, there needs to be more to our lives than just work. Because, as anyone who has suffered redundancy or been placed on furlough during the Covid-19 pandemic will no doubt attest, if work is taken away from you, you need to have something else. You need some identity to support you, some stimulus to inspire you, some joy to be found away from your 9-5. You need to make time for the people around you, for the activities that make you happy. You need to prioritise your physical and mental health, as well as your bank accounts and career status.

Essentially, we all need to strive for more work-life balance in our lives. Because, when that big red curtain finally falls, nobody wants to be remembered as the one most likely to work late, through lunch, over the weekend.

That we truly do have the power to heal the planet

We might be in lockdown, but nature is not. During this time of human inactivity, we’ve seen swans and fresh fish return to the waters of Venice. As the whirr of traffic falls silent and much of the country works from home, the birdsong in our gardens and parks has seemed deafening. Rare wildflowers and declining bee populations could start to recover because many councils are leaving roadside verges uncut, according to Europe’s biggest conservation charity for wild plants. And, due to the shutdown in industrial activity, satellite imagery from the European Space Agency shows that we have temporarily slashed air pollution levels around the world.

Obviously, it will be hard to keep this up when we all return to normal day-to-day life. However, I hope that we all remember how much impact humanity as a whole can have upon the world – and that we all make a conscious effort to “do our bit” whenever and wherever we can going forward.

Life moves pretty fast…

To quote the indomitable Ferris Bueller: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

I hope that one day not too far from now, all of this will be a distant memory. All that being said, though, I hope I remember the lessons I learned during this time. That I’ll make time to see the people I love whenever I can, and appreciate the hell out of them always. That I’ll eat the dessert, go for that run, apply for the job of my dreams. Take lunch-breaks and finish work on time. Appreciate the great outdoors, and do my bit to protect it. Go for what I want, when I want it, rather than constantly putting it off. Live true to my own heart’s voice. Love harder. Take risks, be bolder, be braver. Put my phone down and look around, try to be present in the moment. Reach for the last slice of pizza. Be a better friend, sister, daughter.

That I won’t, above all else, flake on plans and rearrange for the following week. Because, just sometimes, those “following week” intentions won’t be there to fall back on.

Main image: Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

All other images: Unsplash/Getty

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