The Pandemic has shone a light on many things. One of them is the importance of community in our lives and just how our sense of connection can have an impact on our physical and emotional wellbeing.
Making a connection with your local community and feeling a sense of belonging can change your perspective in significant ways. Throughout the pandemic a significant number of people have volunteered or set up community groups or projects. There is little doubt that those involved in these activities receive so much back themselves – improved emotional wellbeing and a sense of purpose. They realise that they can affect positive change in other people’s lives.
Community gives us a sense of being cared for and valued which is incredibly important to how we view ourselves. Kindness to others benefits us as we feel less lonely and our voice can be heard and acknowledged on a local level.
Another major positive from the pandemic is re-establishing relationships. Maintaining and nurturing emotional connections were challenging pre-pandemic – work, family commitments, friendships can all take up a large amount of our time and energy but during the pandemic, we had the opportunity to reflect on our emotional lives. Whether the relationships you are re-evaluating are family, work or perhaps neighbours, it can be extremely empowering to make a positive decision to reconnect to those close to us, to spend time appreciating the worth of your connection.
Like most valuable areas of our lives, we need to invest time and energy to nurture it. Our relationships are exactly the same – neglect them and they diminish, possibly to a point where it is difficult to pull them back from an emotional abyss. The pandemic has challenged us in a variety of ways but the one constant that has been a continuous thread is how we have supported each other, how we have looked to each other for strength and understanding. We have experienced huge sadness and anxiety but there have been a raft of groups and organisations who have actively reached out to all parts of society, from those isolating to those who have found the whole experience emotionally and mentally overwhelming. During these stressful times, many of us have remembered those who mean – or have meant – a great deal to us. For some, contacting those in our lives has been a natural path in this uneasy time. Whereas we often promise ourselves to call or contact someone who is on our minds, the pandemic has put our connections into sharp focus. It has placed our priorities centre stage, Human connections are what guides us through when the present and future seem so uncertain. The world around us has been a fearful place and the desire for reassurance has been absolutely key in finding our way through. Reconnecting with individuals has been essential
Dr Deborah Lee believes there have been a number of silver linings from the pandemic. Dr Lee highlights the areas of our lives we can appreciate even more:
Less traffic, less air pollution, and fewer car accidents.
Road traffic was reduced by 73% – levels not seen since 1955. In London and other big cities, air pollution fell by 30-50%. Road traffic accidents fell by 11%.
Many people have developed new hobbies, and interests
In one UK survey (by Serenata Flowers), 50% of women were found to have taken up a new hobby since the start of the pandemic and 67% were doing this at least once a week. Gardening, cooking, baking, were the most popular. 15% of women had learnt to crochet, knit, or do embroidery.
We saw an outpouring of generosity and kindness
There are numerous examples. Volunteers came forward to shop and deliver food to the elderly and those who were shielding. Others donated time driving, doing odd jobs, walking dogs, and helping people get their medication. Many got to know their neighbours for the first time. There was a big surge in community spirit.
A massive increase in people undertaking online learning
Online learning became the norm through necessity – whether this was through schools, colleges, universities, or businesses. Many children were given a laptop from charitable donations they would otherwise not have had.
Staying at home meant saving money.
People spent less and were able to save more. Consumer spending decreased by 7.1%. Two-thirds of UK residents are estimated to have saved around £7,032 over the course of the year. Moreover, these saving habits, such as not going out for takeaway coffees and watching movies at home, have taught people how to save and may continue long into the future.
People began to realise the importance of green spaces.
Having been cooped up at home, we all now appreciate green spaces. This led to an increase in interest in outdoor hobbies such as gardening, which has been shown to be good for health. Others decided to relocate – leaving big cities to live in the country or by the sea.
A huge increase in telemedicine
The positives Dr Lee mentions are all incredibly important in different ways. It can be easy to feel that such a stressful and uncertain time as the pandemic cannot any positive moments. However, many of us have experienced life affirming situations since the first lockdown. Human connections have never been so integral to our wellbeing. Living through the pandemic is one challenge but trying to look to the future and beyond our present struggles is particularly tough. It is only through recognising the uplifting moments during our darker times that enables us to not only pull through but to understand exactly what is important in our lives. Finding positives from such a distressing time can feel odd, possibly wrong for some individuals but our emotions are complex and we need to believe heart warming experiences can be achieved, even during our darkest moments.
Dr Deborah Lee can be found at Dr Fox Online Pharmacy – https://www.doctorfox.co.uk/