Six Pandemic Wins to be Thankful For

Some small, quarantine-inspired, changes in daily life worth celebrating

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Stop and smell the flowers.

It’s said so often in jest, but when was the last time you actually did?

As quarantine continues on, the slower lifestyles initiated in March are becoming the new norm.

It’s easy to get too caught up in “the grind”. However, this pandemic has forced us all to rewrite our daily routines. Being stuck at home has put a mirror up to our behaviors and habits. Slowing down has led to some small behavioral changes.

It’s easy to get bogged down in all the negatives of this year (rightly so). But there are also some positives we can celebrate to add a little bit of joy and gratitude to our day to day routines. Here are a few small wins worth recognizing and celebrating:

1. Changing seasons.

Slowing down a bit has allowed more time to be cognizant of the world around us. When was the last time you slowed down enough to watch winter turn to summer and summer turn to fall? Maybe never. When was the last time you stayed in one place for six months without leaving? It’s truly been a pleasure to watch the first leaves poke out of the gloom of March, to relish a languid summer afternoon and to be truly overjoyed at the first hints of fall in the air. It’s easy to forget these simple dramas when caught up jet-setting or commuting or just generally too busy.

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2. Phone calls with friends.

Quarantine has lowered the activation energy required to just pick up the phone and give someone a call. It’s hard to keep up with friends that live in different cities. Some resort to relying on sparsely spaced trips and reunions for catch-ups and check-ins. They’re probably not busy, there’s nowhere to be right now. Consequently, it is much easier to stay up to date on the details and the day to day, rather than just the big events. Its also easy it is to be a good friend just by listening.

3. Sunrises and sunsets.

Now that there is more flexibility in scheduling work and home life, its easier to head outside or to the window to catch a sunrise or sunset. Timing a jog or stroll to correspond with the golden hour provides a free daily reminder of the natural beauty of the world. Sure, it’s easy to make a point of watching the sun breach the horizon while on vacation or traveling. But the switch to a slower pace has enabled sunsets and sunrises to become a daily occurrence to seek out and cherish.

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4. More neighborhood adventures and staycations.

Social distancing and the risks of air travel have led people to come up with creative ways to spend time in their own communities. Across the country, people are coming up with innovative ways to make up for canceled summer plans including neighborhood bike rides, backyard weddings, impromptu block parties, and birthday parties on boats. It’s great to see folks leaning into what is available and connecting closer to home.

5. Accomplishing goals.

With fewer distractions, social engagements, and reasons to leave the house, people are able to set goals and see them through to fruition. It's satisfying to set tasks and see them through to their finish. People are finishing, not just starting projects. Planting gardens and tending them through harvest. Setting fitness goals and chipping away at them day by day. Starting TV series and working through all the available seasons. Steady progress and routines have helped some to find solace amidst the uncertainty.

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6. Therapeutic tidying up.

For some cleaning has become a reflexive form of procrastination, resulting in a nicer home space. And for others, it is an outlet for stress, discomfort, and restlessness. Can’t concentrate? No problem, just wash the dishes, that’s something. Can’t stop spiraling? At least the window sills can be wiped down. Can’t possible sit in front of the computer for one more second? Refolding the sweaters is at least somewhat productive.

As the months wear on, celebrating the little wins and the renewed sources of joy replenishes the resilience needed to preserve through this pandemic.

So ask yourself, what was your smallest win today? What the best way that lockdown has improved your habits?

Lean into that. Celebrate it. Let it become a catalyst.

And, the next time the trees rustle out the window or the sun graces the horizon say a little thank you for the reclaimed simple pleasures.

Geologist & Writer. she/her. I write about the intersection of society, energy, and the environment. Open to collaboration / freelance: chase.m.joy@gmail.com

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