Lessons from a Pandemic- Changes Worth Keeping and Changes to Ditch

Ditch hyperbole/disinformation in news sources.

We’ve had two major network coverage options for the last year (+), be completely petrified or in total denial that the pandemic is something to be taken seriously. It has been nearly impossible to get objective, factual information throughout the entire pandemic. To make the situation worse many major networks served their ratings potential with constant terrifying headlines and negative reporting hoping to keep us too afraid not to tune in.  Instead of, Don’t Panic, Wear a Mask and Stay Safe and Smart, it was DEAR GOD, THE WORLD IS ENDING!! Or the kind of reporting that encouraged your 80 year old grandpa with  COPD to go hang out with his friends without a mask. Pure insanity.

A great example is from here in Missouri. Several weeks ago, over 80,000 Covid 19 cases were added in one day. There we were in the headlines with that horrific surge. In reality, those were cases from positive rapid testing that the state had chosen to not include for months (no good reason for this, just what happened). There are many similar stories all over the country. Find a local or less commercially funded news source,* stick with it and don’t check in too often.  The pandemic has been mentally taxing for most and fully traumatic for many. As we move forward there will always be something stressful, emotional, and frightening to find in a headline. The rating grabbers won’t stop until you stop watching, so stop watching.  Oh, and in case you didn’t hear, social media sites are NOT news sources.

*Short note- The New York Times and NPR get my Major News Source of the Year Awards for the most objective and responsible journalism through this whole thing. The New York TImes also created a free daily morning update to keep anyone with an email address informed.

Keep– Growing our own food and supporting locally grown food.

Millions of pounds of meat and vegetables were destroyed last year because we weren’t eating out, eating in hotels or on cruise ships. Most of our food travels an average of 1500 miles to reach our grocery stores, and yet a good amount of that food can (and often is) being grown within 50 miles of where we live. By purchasing locally grown food and encouraging local restaurants and hotels to source more food locally we can prevent at least some of the unacceptable waste that we saw in 2020.

Ditch– The inability to use reusables.

I don’t even want to think of how many more foam cups and takeout containers, straws, plastic utensils and bags ended up in landfills, roadsides and waterways over the last year. It was a bit of a catch 22 supporting locally owned restaurants by purchasing takeout in petroleum based containers. Hopefully, this hasn’t become habit and we will soon be back to using fabric bags at the grocery store, stainless steel mugs in the gas station and our own left-over containers in restaurants.

Keep– Extending outside dining.

Extending sidewalks into parking lots for small tables and benches actually isn’t a new concept. Many downtowns have been doing this for years, especially during highly attended festivals. This practice not only allows for more diners to be seated but it creates a sense of community.

Ditch– Being lonely.

If you’ve felt lonely over the last year, once vaccinated, find at least one social activity to participate in.  Even introverts get lonely. If this is you, find something that you can enjoy like a small book club or volunteer opportunity that allows you to be around others but not necessarily have to engage too much. Over socializing can be exhausting for both introverts, partial introverts and HSP’s.  

Let’s also ditch ignoring the lonely and take on the responsibility to find at least one person in each of our lives that is going to continue to be lonely when the pandemic is officially declared over. Make a commitment to visit with that person, at least once a week.

Keep– Simplified lives.

Most of us have experienced an entire year of spending more time at home. More time with our closest loved ones. More time in nature. Less time being busy which we all know actually means being overloaded by being unproductive. Now is the time to commit to being less committed.

Ditch– Relying on a small number of foreign manufacturers to produce our country’s health care supplies.

PPE distributors did what all distributors do, they sold to the highest bidders. What’s the best way to avoid a price war? Cut out as many middlemen as possible. Having medical supplies made in our own country is a great start. Sure, those supplies will cost more to manufacture here but that’s how manufacturing gets to remain in the United States. We can’t spend decades being irate about losing manufacturing jobs and at the same time keep buying most of our stuff from other countries because we want cheap stuff. I also have to mention that stuff also has to make it to our shores to make it into our hospitals, businesses and homes. Who knows what desperately needed cargo might be on the next ship to get stuck on its way here.

Keep- online meetings and conferences.

This one is pretty much a no-brainer to me. Conferences are expensive to attend and have a huge carbon footprint. Plane tickets, rental cars, hotel, and eating out three times a day. I don’t deny the value of seeing your friends and or networking, but we can create a hybrid version going forward. Increase smaller local conferences, decrease huge national/international conferences and increase virtual meetings in-between. Until 2021 conference follow-up typically came in the form of emails and conference calls which have a low say/do rate. Virtual meetings however seem to have much better results. Just being able to see others facial expressions brings a certain level of accountability when agreeing to do something.

Ditch our historic practice of getting through tough times and moving on as if they never happened.

Until the pandemic of 2020 arrived, most of us didn’t even know there was a pandemic in 1918 that took more lives than WWI which was occurring simultaneously. For those of us that did, most of us didn’t know much more than that pandemic existed. There were excellent lessons to learn from 1918 that could have been implemented into strategic plans back in 1920. Those plans would have guided us through 2020. Instead, we have had over a year of complete chaos. Of course, we hope it will be at least another hundred years before we might need to use a pandemic strategic plan, but let’s be smart while the current lessons are fresh and make some. The future will thank us.

Keep- Just being you.

So many of us made it over a year wearing whatever already lived in our closets and dresser drawers! We made it without painting our faces on a daily basis and without keeping up with the latest hair styles or fashion fads. We found meaning and value in the little things that matter and let go of some attachments to the things that don’t. Keep up the good work.

Ditch- Excessive screen time

Distractions keep us from reality and under normal circumstances (definition impossible) they only serve to suppress the stuff we need to deal with the most. If you were to ask a therapist or spiritual advisor if this also applies to the waking nightmare known as 2020+, they might say yes. Personally, I felt like my non-typical indulgence in documentaries, old television favorites (pretty sure I re-watched the entire Monk series twice) and on and off dives down the Ancestry.com rabbit hole were temporary coping mechanisms. My mind was like a plugged bathtub with a dripping spigot. I knew it was going to spill over at some point. A few moments slipped in where I felt enough of a slight reprieve that the emotions that had been set on the back burner were allowed to emerge in gallons of tears of grief and sadness.

When Covid found its way into our home, though in a mild form, my mind went into a mental survival mode. I downloaded a game app for the first time ever. I did two, three, sometimes four crossword puzzles on the app a day. We got through it, the puzzles helped. It seems many of us mentally managed the pandemic in a similar way. There really isn’t anything good about too much screen time. Bad choice or not, it helped get us through this and now its time to turn the tv off, put the phone down and regain screen-time self-control.

Keep– Washing our hands and stay home when you’re sick

Seriously no one should have to state this. But we have all been in a public bathroom and we all know….

Last year saw a 98% decrease in influenza hospitalizations. 98%. Masks help prevent all kinds of viruses, but not likely to be used beyond the current pandemic. Our businesses and schools however can create friendlier policies to keep anyone sick safe at home. No one thinks you are a hero for coming to work sick and potentially making everyone else sick.

Meaningful Living

Audrey L Elder

One thought on “Lessons from a Pandemic- Changes Worth Keeping and Changes to Ditch

  1. […] Lessons from a Pandemic- Changes Worth Keeping and Changes to Ditch — audreylelder […]

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