COVID-19. There have been many social media posts and articles on the silver linings of COVID-19 and its negative impacts. COVID-19 has had far-reaching effects on humanity and on society, economy, healthcare, public health, culture, politics, technology, religion, mental health, and more. News headlines often focus on the negative – infection rates, death counts, closures, which stocks went down, school closures, and so on. But what about the positive impacts?
As an occupational therapist who has been working in the hospital before the outbreak, the beginning of the outbreak, and now with the second wave – being on home quarantine for 2 personal COVID scares, I have had a lot of time to reflect on the positives that have come out of COVID-19.
Our Mental Health
COVID-19 has been a long road on our mental health and will continue to have possible PTSD-like effects that on our society. From dealing with the mental health issues of joy of becoming a first-time father, anxiety of possibly contracting COVID-19, stress at work as an occupational therapist, frustration with the system failing, anger with positive COVID-19 test results from family/friends, to acceptance and hope for the future. I am sure you have all experienced some or all of these feelings.
Here are some silver linings despite all of this.
Family and Friends
- Valuing our social connections and the time we spent with them others.
- Spending time with those who are close to you – in person & virtually.
- Spending time with children who are out of school.
- Spending more time with our pets and going on walks and playtime.
- Becoming caregivers of those close to you who have contracted COVID-19.
- Finding time for ourselves – not as isolation, but as an escape.
- Becoming more comfortable talking about issues and our fears related to health, illness, disease, and death.
- Having a shared / common / collective experience in the fight against COVID-19, even amongst strangers in public and online.
- Having or at least valuing a more life in the “work – life” balance.
- Learning more about safety precautions and ways to prevent disease.
- Connecting with patients more on a psychosocial level.
- In moving to another building – narrowing down what is essential to performing the daily duties of rehab vs. being extra and overly-complicated.
- Collaborating with other staff.
- Overcoming and coming up with creative solutions to maintain social distancing and visitation policies while providing basic therapy.
- Modifying our environment to prevent infection.
- Eliminating high-risk supplies, equipment, and practices that may contract COVID-19.
- Coming up with creative ways to provide therapy.
- Staff is washing their hands properly and more often.
- Improving our documentation and adapting to new ways to advocate for our patients related to COVID-19 needs.
Leisure, Education, & Interests
- Having more time to read, write, research, and be creative on our downtime.
- Educating ourselves on various subject matter including virus, public health, and mental health.
- Having more time to explore or get back into our hobbies – no matter what that may be.
- Exploring more research and learning new practice techniques for OT.
- Learning about resources available to caregivers related to work and from the government.
Habits, Roles, & Routines
- Realize that habits and routines can be changed and although difficult, can be done.
- Realize that it may be difficult for others to change their habits and routines.
- Develop good habits and stop bad habits, e.g., healthy eating, exercise, quitting alcohol.
- Re-evaluate our current roles as employees, family members, educators, students, friends, our neighbor and how we can strengthen and foster such roles; eliminate harmful roles from our social connections.
- Learning more about budgeting and personal finance.
- Learning how to invest.
- Spending less money (such as from eating out) and reflecting on what we really need vs. want.
- Starting side-hustles to explore alternatives to our day job.
- Realize that our time spent bonding and connecting with others is more important than earning money.
- Taking more mental breaks from our busy lives.
- Learning and practicing techniques to manage stress and anxiety.
- Checking in with other’s mental health and being proactive in starting conversations about depression and suicide.
- Valuing our mental health and recognizing that we are all going through this together.
- Prioritizing which goals are important personally, with family, and friends.
- Planning for the future of our careers.
- Interested in a career in occupational therapy? Check out our online course for pre-OT.