I’ve been meaning to pen down my thoughts about the last couple of months but if I’m honest I haven’t found the words. It’s been a whirlwind of emotions and I’m still processing it all. Today is Sunday 3rd May 2020 and we’re about to enter another week of lockdown. As much as we’ve found a routine that works for my little family and haven’t really let the lockdown affect us negatively, there are atill certain things we have had to adapt to.
Who would have thought that a tiny virus would change our lives so much, would change the world in such a unified, yet terrifying manner? Who would have thought my children and I would get sick – with what we (and healthcare practitioners) suspect was coronavirus? Who would have thought that the decision I made a couple of years ago to step into the healthcare sector would propel me into a pandemic of this magnitude?
As I said, I’m still processing all of it. However here are some of the lessons I’ve learned from Covid-19, this invisible enemy – and everything its existence has engendered.
1. Lockdown is what I make of it.
I’m considered an essential worker so I still have to work, which means I still have somewhat of a routine that I’m familiar with. However, not being able to go out unless necessary, or visit my favourite stores has been quite a challenging thing to deal with. I can’t say I used to go out much anyway, but being forced to stay indoors everyday has pushed me to be more creative, learn new things and spend more time with my family.
As someone who loves my freedom, I could have easily let myself fall into a dark hole, but using my creativity (interior decorating, writing, cooking etc.) is what has kept me sane during this time.
2. Social media will affect your wellbeing- whether positively or negatively.
Something strange happened to me at the beginning of April. I tweeted photos of my home and decor ideas, and it was retweeted 11,000 times, liked by almost 92,000 peoppe and quoted by thousands more. I cannot even begin to describe the feeling I felt, seeing my ideas travel so far and so widely. I was getting messages and compliments from people around the globe, my following both on Twitter and on Instagram doubled in just 24 hours… I even received messages from brands wanting to work with me in. For those few hours and days, Twitter made me feel so good about my content – a feeling I hadn’t experienced in a while.
And yet… it is the same Twitter that would often make me feel down. From the negativity I often come across, to the nastiness and bullying I witness on there, Twitter can sometimes leave you feeling emotionally drained. And during this lockdown, I feel like people have even more time on their hands to create and engage in such negativity.
What I feed my spirit will stay with me, and if I’m not careful, will start to affect my mental health and wellbeing. I’ve learned that it is up to me to step away from the app or any other social media platform whenever I need to, and retreat to the things I love and that make me fee at peace.
3. Having good money management – a opposed to just savings – can save your life.
This is not a new lesson, it’s a fact I have always known. However it’s something that has reiterated itself during this crisis, and in more ways than one. While our jobs have not negatively been affected and our income has not gone down (in fact I’ve been doing overtime so it has actually increased), we have found that our savings have given us the financial reassurance that we need at this time. Just knowing that we have some savings has brought us peace. I admit I tend to worry a lot, in spite of my Christian faith. It’s in times like these that you realise how much you need a financial cushion.
But having an emergency fund, in itself, doesn’t mean you automatically have good money management. I’ve struggled with keeping my day to day expenses to a minimum, the amount I spend on groceries has increased, I find myself shopping online quite a lot, for home decor or other treats… These are things that I hadn’t envisaged would happen and it has pushed me to re-evaluate the way I manage my money.
4. My relationships with people will only be maintained through mutual effort and intention.
I could sit here and quote all the typical sentiments about being grateful and cherishing your friends and family. During this crisis, I have tried to be there for friends who have either lost loved ones, been sick themselves or have relatives in hospital. I have been a lot more present and intentional, messaged friends to check on them or their sick partners. Even with colleagues I felt I was close to – I tried to maintain a caring approach, beyond what one would normally classify as a strictly work/professional relationship – regularly checking on those who are sick, etc.
But let me be real with you – the lack of reciprocity from some of them really got to me. There are only so many unanswered text messages and ignored phone calls a person can deal with. And in my quest to show that I care for others (while also being sick myself and having lost loved ones) I’m also beginning to guard my heart and perhaps become less tolerant of those who simply don’t respond or aren’t as intentional towards me. It certainly isn’t a case of tit ‘for tat’ and I don’t give to expect something in return. But when the Bible tells us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23, I do believe it includes being mindful of what we allow, who we allow to affect our hearts (and emotional being).
5. God wants me to draw near to Him, not just in times of need but at all times.
At the beginning of this pandemic, I would regularly spend time in prayer, more so than I did in the past, reading my Bible and crying to God for His protection and mercy. Now that things have settled and perhaps I feel less and less affected by this crisis, all of a sudden my relationship with God has taken back a seat again. I am actually ashamed to admit this as a Christian – I know that this isn’t God’s will for me and I should improve my walk with Christ. When the Bible talks about being near to God, in Psalm 73:28, I believe it requires dedication from me, time and desire to truly draw near to Him.
“But it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.“
My aim during this time is to really seek God’s heart, not just when things are not going well or when I’m desperate. But also when I’ve found equilibrium, when I’m rested and appeased.
What are some of the lessons you’ve learned during this health crisis? And how are you coping? Let me know in the comments.