According to some genetic studies of COVID-19 samples, scientists suggest that COVID-19 emerged in China a year ago. However, Chinese authorities only informed the World Health Organization (WHO) about new pneumonia cases on December 31, 2019. Exactly a month later, the WHO announced COVID-19 as a global health crisis. Since then, COVID-19 has spread rapidly throughout the world and has come to change the status quo. Though COVID-19 is a world tragedy, I argue that the virus is our most challenging teacher because it has forced us to confront things we take for granted, rethink our priorities, transform our mindset, and realize we have little or maybe no control over our lives.
COVID-19 discriminates against no one. Technically anyone can get infected, from world leaders to the homeless, choosing no social class, political alignment, socioeconomic status, gender, ethnicity, religion, or geographic location. Though COVID-19 has brought suffering to people everywhere, its impact has not been shared equally. Some people have just quarantined and kept their jobs, whereas others have lost work and their loved ones. In many ways, the world has become more united for sharing the same vulnerability. So far, COVID-19 has taught me four life lessons.
Firstly, changing is inevitable. We must adapt fast if we want to survive. From local businesses to multinational conglomerates, from healthcare professionals to unemployed people, everyone is going through a rough economic and/or personal crunch nowadays. Therefore, companies and people have been forced to adapt fast and improvise to ensure their business continuity. As the adage goes, “necessity is the mother of invention,” and the COVID-19 pandemic has been a catalyst for innovation, changing how we work, study, date, consume, travel, learn, bank, exercise, have fun and relax.
Secondly, time is scarce; use it wisely. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow is not promised, all we have is now, the present moment. We all had plans that were interrupted by COVID-19. Hence, do not put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Be your best version now. That jacket you bought to wear on a special occasion; wear it today, you deserve it. The virus showed the misconception we had about control. When things happen according to our “plans,” we have the illusion of being on top of things that we are somehow in control of. Despite that, when COVID-19 came and swept away our lives, making us put our plans on hold, we realized control is an illusion. Therefore, we have no power to change the events, but we can change how we react and face them. By accepting life as it unfolds, we gain control over our response and actions. After all, time waits for no one, and none of us ever know what tomorrow holds.
Thirdly, prioritize relationships. It is high time to set our priorities straight, share our feelings, and tell those we love how much they matter to us. Remember that not every family is made of blood, we should connect to people we care about and strengthen the bonds we have. We should take a minute and appreciate what we are being given: a chance to reconnect and understand each other. It is time to seize the opportunity by working on our interpersonal relationships, letting go of past issues, forgiving each other, making new memories, and getting creative with how we spend our time together. If you are lucky enough to visit them, go there and spend some quality time with one another. If you are miles apart, use technology to connect with them, they are one call away. Talk with people you trust about your concerns and how you are feeling – you may find that they are feeling the same way. Talking it out can be beneficial for both of you, especially when we need to keep social distancing from one another. Every breaking news about COVID-19 should remind us to value each moment and imbue it with meaning and purpose. So, make a positive impact on your relationships.
Fourthly, health is our utmost wealth and concern. The WHO defines health as a positive set of factors that encompasses social and personal resources and physical capacities. It is fundamental to do some form of physical activity, which positively impacts our body and mind. Mental health is an integral part of our health and it needs to be continuously addressed, just like our physical health is. Thus, it is vital to keep connected to other people. Whether it is a text message, phone call, or video chat, taking some time to talk with people you love can bring comfort and joy despite the physical distance between you. It is well-known that the virus is particularly dangerous for people over 65, pregnant women, and those with certain pre-existing conditions.
On top of that, we know that healthy people have a much better chance of only experiencing mild symptoms and have the greatest chance of full recovery. Consequently, we should eat a balanced diet, exercise regularly, connect with and care for other people, and put things into perspective. Take care of yourself now so that your body and mind can fight for you later, if necessary. Last but not least, think of food like it is your best medicine and use it to work for you and keep you healthy. Such measures can boost our immune system, increase our wellness, and reduce our risk of chronic diseases and COVID-19 related complications.
In conclusion, COVID-19, wishfully, is helping us to reprioritize our time and our life purpose. I hope we can use this time to find ourselves, realize what truly matters to us, and allows us to live our best life. We will not go back to the old normal because now we are transformed, and we have the opportunity to build a better future if we all work together. As our most challenging teacher, COVID-19 highlighted our interdependence because the virus does not recognize borders and underpinned the importance of collaboration since no one can win this fight alone. To be successful, we need to fully cooperate with each other, ensuring our connectivity and shared responsibility for our society.
The views and opinions expressed in this opinion article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The Eastern Herald.