Positive life lessons from the pandemic

By Geoff Harris

What a long, strange trip it’s been, sang the Grateful Dead, and many readers will be feeling the same way about the imminent end of (most) Covid restrictions here in the UK.

The exact date is yet to be confirmed, but even if the current ‘Freedom Day’ of June 21st gets pushed back, the critical mass of vaccinations means that it will happen before too long.

Of course, Covid 19 has been an international tragedy. We sincerely hope that you have not been too adversely affected by the pandemic and all the lockdowns, but whatever has happened, some positives can still be taken away from the whole experience. Losing relatives to this horrible virus is one thing, as is losing your job or business, but Covid can also be a catalyst for greater personal and professional development.

You no longer need to feel guilty about working from home

Back in 2019, a mere 30% of UK employees ever worked from home, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). The proportion of home workers only inched up to 5.1% that year, compared to 4.3% in 2015.

Covid has changed all that; employees in a huge range of industries and services have shown that they still can be productive in a home office, and any lingering suspicion amongst bosses that home working is a skive has been mostly eradicated.

So don’t be afraid to push back if you feel are you being unduly pressured to return to an office, with all the stress around childcare, commuting and office politics that this can involve. Chances are you have proven you can do your job perfectly well at home, depending on what you do.

Celebrate your resilience and coping skills

We worry a lot about catastrophes around the corner, but for most of us, Covid has proven that we can cope with very difficult, totally unexpected situations when they actually unfold. Who was sitting around worrying about a global pandemic in 2018/19, apart from scientists and public heath bodies, who are paid to be concerned about this kind of thing?

As wars show time and time again, people find a way through adversity, and worrying about something is so often way worse than actually dealing with it. Thishasbeen like a war, and you have come through it, so you are stronger than you think. What is your next challenge?

You’ve learned to appreciate home more

Compulsive holiday making and foreign travel used to be seen as somehow essential to our happiness and well-being, and while it’s great to be able to hop onto the next flight to Phuket, the travel lockdown has forced us all to appreciate what we have around us every day – home, garden, family.

There has been a DIY and gardening boom, so we have all learned to appreciate the little things we take for granted, Or, it’s made us realise we no longer want to live in a noisy, crowded city, and a more peaceful, rural location is actually much more desirable – hence the house price boom in the south west, for example. This can be a very positive life change.

You’ve learned to appreciate family more

Elderly parents or teenagers can be a huge drain on our time, energy and patience, but the pandemic has also hopefully made us value our loved ones more – at the height of the virus, just going to the supermarket and forgetting to wash your hands afterwards was potentially lethal. Next time your 16 year old is kicking off and you feel like exploding, remember that many youngsters lost their life to Covid. You are lucky to still have them.

There’s been a creativity boom

Art, photography, gardening, sewing… People have had a lot of time on their hands during lockdown, and many have discovered the joys of a creative pursuit.

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With pubs, restaurants and cinemas shuttered, maybe you have started doing something creative from scratch, or dived deeper into an existing hobby, and this is surely a rewarding and positive thing. Why not continue this after all restrictions end – sign up for a proper photography workshop with a professional teacher after getting into close-up photography in your back garden, for example.

It’s made us more mindful about our health

It is a sad fact that people who were in poor physical shape were often more vulnerable to Covid, so why not use ‘Freedom Day’ as the catalyst to really get into exercise, healthier eating, or mind/body/spirit pursuits such as yoga (maybe you started doing online classes during lockdown).

As the virus has shown, we can’t take our health for granted and the better shape we are in, the better our chances of surviving any further pandemics – as well as leading healthier, more productive lives.

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

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