We’re in the thick of it. With one month down (has it been longer? Time is a blob) and an undetermined amount of time to go, if the reality of a global pandemic didn’t feel real before, it’s probably starting to now. For those of you feeling like the rose-colored glasses you were wearing throughout month #1 have been run over ten times by a Ford F-150, you are not alone.

Some things you might currently be experiencing: 

  • Arguments with your shelter-in-place partner about things that don’t matter (examples include chewing, television volume, dish washing technique, breathing sounds)
  • A sudden, uncontrollable urge to bake banana bread — and eat the whole loaf in one sitting
  • A growing list of justifications for why screen time might actually be good for kids (“it’s preparing them for a tech-based world!”)
  • Actually reading brand blog posts (hi!)

That said, with experience comes wisdom, and in light of the collective mood shift, we’ve decided to put our attention on some of the insights we’ve gained from living through this unprecedented moment in history. Could it be possible that some of these changes have actually made us… happier? Let’s investigate.

 

 

Quality over quantity 

Whether you’re purging your closet out of sheer boredom or an acute case of Spring Fever that can’t otherwise be expressed, it is always shocking to realize how much… ehm… crap we all have. A personal pattern I’ve identified is: 1) Make a purchase, but buy a low quality version to save money. 2) Use said purchase one time, which generally results in an unsatisfactory experience. 3) Keep the item just in case, but buy another slightly better version to make up for what the other item lacks. 4) Rinse and repeat until the closet takes on a life of its own and swallows you whole. 

As we begin to consider life on the “other side,” it’s a great opportunity to be more intentional about the purchases we make. Maybe that looks like investing in higher quality items in round one and buying less overall. Maybe it’s supporting more small, female-owned and operated businesses when given the choice. Maybe it’s only keeping what you love and donating any items you haven’t used in the last three months to people in need. Ultimately, I suspect that owning only things you love and getting rid of the excess will make life simpler and lighter — Marie Kondo might be onto something. 

 

 

Life in the kitchen

I’m not the best chef in the world — after years of strict vegetarianism, my renewed adventures in meat-based cuisine are accompanied by an overwhelming fear of undercooking. As a result, most of the chicken I prepare is over-done and the hamburgers I’ve attempted have been bone-dry. And yet, there’s something about the meal that is distinctly more… satisfying? For those kitchen warriors who have been at it for a while, you’ll know what I’m talking about. For the rest of us who suddenly find ourselves in our kitchens three (or more) times a day, it’s a revelation.

Maybe it's the extra love, maybe it's the simplicity of ingredients, but either way, more meals made at home is something we hope remains in our post-quarantine lives.

 

 

More connection

Video conferencing platforms like Zoom have been around for years, but how often did you actually use them to connect with old friends or extended family before March 2020? For me, the answer was... never. Yet, with (almost) everyone stuck at home, it no longer feels like an imposition to ask for an hour of someone's time. As a result, I've been connecting with people I love, yet rarely see, more often than I ever have before.

Zoom fatigue aside, this is a global trend I hope we keep up. Now that we've created these habits (and the world has passed a crash course in video conferencing 101), here's hoping this practice becomes the new norm.

 

 

Nature is necessary

How often did you get outside in your "old" life? For me, my routine involved a commute to work. Because I physically left my house in order to go to a new location, I felt like I had gotten outside, but had I really spent time being present in nature? Not usually.

These days, going outside is seen as a privilege and an important mental health practice. This is a mindset I plan to commit to from this day forward, even when things return to (somewhat) normal. 

 

 

Communication

If you live with other people, whether it's a roommate or your family, you've probably always known the importance of communication. However, when you're spending 24/7 with those people and relying on them for a month's worth of human interaction (in a small space, no less), communication takes on a whole other level of importance. Especially while we're all simultaneously processing a once-in-a-lifetime global event, the practice of clarifying your needs to yourself and your housemates has never been more necessary.

Conversely, if you live alone, the need for social interaction has probably never been more apparent. Even for those with introverted tendencies, it's incredibly important to create space for connection, even when it's necessary to be physically apart. Virtual communities have cropped up online, friends have organized routine Zoom meet-ups, and neighbors have banded together to make sure everyone feels supported and seen. 

Let's continue to prioritize high quality connection and communication, even when the usual beats of life resume.

 

 

What is essential? 

The word "essential" is something we hear over and over again these days. Which jobs and services are actually required for a healthy and functioning community? What items and purchases do I actually need? What self-care practices are actually helpful? This perspective is one we might be seeing now for the first time, but hopefully one we won't soon forget. 

 

 

How has sheltering in place changed your outlook for the better? Are there any new habits you want to maintain? Let us know in the comments!

 

1 comment

  • I have loved watching our neighborhood come alive. Families walking or riding bikes together. Actually listening to each other and laughing. And look at their dogs behavior if he or she is included. It’s a joyous parade outside our front door. I love it, sorry people are sick, but even sadder that it took something like this virus to re think our essentials. Pt 2. Appreciation for the health care, police, fire etc professionals who are stepping up their games. But thank God for our true heroes who sacrifice even more and sometimes even their lives for minimum wage and only human glory if the died protecting this country, our American service men, women and their families. They are the heroes. Thank God for the many people who go about their jobs daily totally dismissed, until times like these, you see them! Hero!

    Annette Ashley —

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