As lockdowns lift and communities reopen, we are starting to feel a hint of normalcy return. Living in quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic has undeniably challenged us and, through these challenges, we have been changed.
Some have been changed as they grieve the loss of loved ones. Others have been changed as they search for a new job and means to live. Some have been forced to work throughout the pandemic, risking their lives, and others have had to work full time while taking care of and/or homeschooling children. In one way or another, most of us have had the opportunity to clear our calendars, experiment with new lifestyles, reflect on our priorities, and reset our lives.
Our HNM Systems team reflected on what opportunities were revealed during quarantine, what new habits and perspectives we formed, and how we can carry them on as we emerge from confinement and adjust to a new normal.
The main theme that arose amongst all team members’ positive experiences during quarantine was interconnection. The pandemic has built and bridged relationships, both personally and professionally. We found common ground with family members, strangers, clients, employees, and coworkers near and far which built and reinforced connection.
Following our core value of Relentlessly People Driven, we found ways to socialize and support one another through virtual happy hours, Zoom meetings, drive-by birthday/graduation parades, and social media. We learned to think outside the box and to insist on finding joy and connection amidst life’s circumstances.
While isolated in our homes, our team came to appreciate the value of human interaction and the good energy that it can provide in the office, in public, and in our social circles. We realized the importance of connecting with others and finding other areas in common when we no longer have the pandemic to relate to one another.
In discovering our interconnectedness, our team members also developed a passion for doing good: using our talents and abilities to help others in need, volunteering, donating, reducing our carbon footprint, taking ethical action, and participating in political activism. It’s impossible to turn away from a global issue and the injustices that come along with it when the issue is affecting each and every human around the globe and the injustices are threatening all of our lives.
Many want to continue individually and collectively doing good – to do our part in our environment and community and to use our strengths to empower other people in their careers, organizations, cultures, and lives. The hope is that through this pandemic, we might be a better world than we were before it started.
Another way many have come out of quarantine better than they were before is in the area of self-care. HNM teammates explained an improvement in their quality of life during the pandemic by implementing new (and additional) self-care habits such as daily exercise, meditation, healthy home cooking, and spending time outside.
With minimal freedom to leave the house, many people took to exercise and nature to stay sane and reduce cabin fever. In addition to exercise, many began meditating to calm the anxious body and mind. Whether they wanted to or not, people began the healthy habit of cooking at home, and some even experimented with growing their own food.
While working from home, our HNM team embraced new and creative self-care activities such as outdoor workouts, in-home yoga (with and without cats), Zoom cooking classes, sunset walks, listening to podcasts, running, hiking and gardening.
One difference between pre-quarantine and post-quarantine self-care is the motivation that drives it. For example, previously some may have exercised to keep the weight off or to abide by doctor’s orders. Now, a growing number of people are exercising because it makes them feel good, calms their anxious mind, gives them energy from being cooped up, and allows them to embrace their freedom to move.
Continued [Online] Education
Opportunities to grow are literally at our fingertips. With a tap of the mouse, we are able to enroll in virtual training sessions for professional development.
Our team at HNM reported a newfound excitement for continued education. From virtual sales training to software tutorials, online accounting courses to web-based MBAs, the cyber possibilities for professional development are endless.
As cities open up, virtual training opportunities do not close down. We continuously have the ability to learn new skills online. Perhaps the closure will encourage you to take advantage of the in-person classes your community offers when they start up again.
So How Do I Do It?
Think big and start small.
- Reflect on what you’ve learned during quarantine by writing down all of the new habits you formed, lifestyles you adapted, perspectives you gained, even any good new feelings you experienced.
- Highlight or put a star next to the ones that you enjoyed the most or that made the biggest shift in your life. Then, break those down into smaller, realistic goals (i.e. read 5 pages a day, one book a quarter, 4 books a year).
- Tell someone about your goal so they can keep you accountable by asking you about it.
- Create alarms or reminders in your phone to remind you of that habit until it becomes automatic.
- Revisit your motivation behind your desired habit often. Try to constantly bring yourself back to the good feeling that habit gave you during quarantine, which will send a cue to your body and mind to repeat the action that made you feel that way.
Finally, keep in mind that, ultimately, the goal of new habit forming is to improve your quality of life and become a better version of yourself. Sometimes, the best thing to do is NOTHING if that’s what you need in that moment. After all, if nothing else, quarantine taught us to slow down, enjoy the simple life, and feel accomplished for merely surviving another day.