Image by Gabriele Stravinskaite

LESSONS LEARNED:

What We

Really Need

by Maureen Pollard

Emotional Health Editor

Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a private practice in Cobourg, Ontario.  Visit her online at: maureenpollardmsw.com

"Take a moment to reflect on how the many challenges of living through a pandemic have impacted your thinking about what’s truly important in life. Each one of us will create a unique list, but here are some starting points as you think about what you want to take away from this changing and challenging lived experience"

Eighteen months of pandemic restrictions, fluctuating waves of infection in communities, and the resulting shifts in our day-to-day lives have affected us all. For many of us, the struggle has been real and deep. 

Extroverts have suffered separation from their crowded social schedules, while introverts have perhaps realized a pull toward more human contact than they thought they might crave. Those who live alone, as well as those who live with others, have felt pressure and stress with the on-going social and economic constraints. Employment became even more precarious, and in some situations opportunities for work were non-existent. Vulnerable people found themselves even more at risk and helpless.

Take a moment to reflect on how the many challenges of living through a pandemic have impacted your thinking about what’s truly important in life. Each one of us will create a unique list, but here are some starting points as you think about what you want to take away from this changing and challenging lived experience:

What are the necessities in your life?

Naturally, we all require food, shelter and clothing. Perhaps there are also certain objects or tools that have been most helpful to you throughout these times. For example, a sewing machine and some fabric for making masks becomes a way to pass time, to help keep yourself and others safe and perhaps even to generate income.

Who are the people who lift you up?

There are often people in our life by necessity: parents, siblings, children, neighbours. Sometimes these are the people who offer support and encouragement, but often we need other connections based on mutual admiration and affection. These are the relationships that feed our souls.

What brings you comfort?

When we are scared, sad or in pain, we all have things we turn to that bring us ease. At times, these activities give us temporary solace while creating a different problem, such as when we use substances to give us a break as we numb our feelings. Other times, we make time for the kind of restorative self care that helps us heal. 

What brings you joy?

While it’s important to have our basic needs met, and it is also good to have ways to comfort ourselves during difficult times, we shouldn’t forget how important it is to do things in life that delight us. Feeling joy is restorative and helps us carry on by giving us wonderful memories to reflect on, as well as hope for returning to pleasure in the future.

What have you learned about yourself in eighteen months of living through pandemic conditions?

Perhaps you have reinforced self-awareness that was already strong. Even so, reflect on your personal answers to these questions and consider what lessons you will take forward as you learn and grow into a post-pandemic world.