The Coronavirus has turned normal life upside down, with the need to stay at home and for a significant period of time being vital. It has affected all parts of our normal lives including education, work, social and also our behaviours. Whilst this period is undoubtedly difficult for everyone and we are hoping normality resumes, quickly; I have been reflecting on whether there are any positives to come out of the situation.
The need to stay at home brings thoughts of large amounts of sedentary time spent sitting and eating too many convenient snacks, ultimately having a poor effect on our health. Personally I am finding the opposite is taking place. My family is more active now than ever before. There are daily PE / physical activity sessions, there has been lots more playing and running around outside and in between we are finding more activity sessions to join in with online. In addition, with the Government guidance of being able to go out for one exercise session, we are absolutely making the most of it with walks or runs.
Whilst I have been out running, I have also found more people than usual out and about walking, cycling or running, making the most of their exercise opportunity. I begin to wonder why this is the case, is it because people have more time without the daily work routine and commute or due to the restrictions being in place, meaning we value that one opportunity so much that we are going to take full advantage of it?
There are so many new opportunities to be active, whether it be through online challenges, video tutorials, mass virtual classes and they cover every age group and all for free. The crisis clearly brings the need to create these but will they continue when normality resumes?
As a parent, we are always cautious about the amount of screen time our children get. As expected this period has meant that screen time has increased, but this is not altogether a negative, given the physical activity and health benefits it is providing - ultimately using the technology available for good.
The above examples are some of the positives relating to physical wellbeing, however what is really being tested is our mental wellbeing. Staying inside with little contact to the outside world and normal social circles can be difficult to cope with. Firstly it makes the need to keep physically healthy all the more important as the two are inextricably linked. However, looking at the other areas of wellbeing and the other 4 ways to wellbeing:
Similar to the positives that are occurring within physical activity, I have seen lots of positives with other areas.
Yes we want to get back to some normality especially being able to meet people, however some communications have increased, I am having lots more calls and video calls, with family, friends and colleagues. This period, again, creates the need to keep in communication with people around us and like the majority embracing the technology to provide the opportunity to do this.
With a significant reduction in traffic, it has reduced the immediate noise, light and general pollution. Whilst out for my daily runs, I have noticed the air feeling fresher, more birdsong and wildlife visible and lots of the streams running much clearer than normal. All of which I find really great to see and fear that it could all be lost once normality resumes.
Days begin to seem much longer with the daily routine no longer being there. For many this has provided more time to read or take online learning courses. I have found that the pile of reading that never gets read, is beginning to get smaller and I feel better in knowing more.
Volunteering is proven to contribute to our wellbeing and at times of need communities across Britain pull together. This has been ever present throughout this time, communities are supporting each other, those who can are helping those in need, gathering shopping and generally being there for each other.
In addition, what has been fantastic to see is the appreciation of others. Clearly the NHS and carers are receiving a lot of love and right so, my run on Thursday coincided with #ClapforNHS, it was brilliant to see so many people clapping and cheering on their doorsteps for those caring for others. Also people are recognising those in our society often overlooked, such as those working in our supermarkets, teachers keeping schools open and charity workers adapting to the needs of others, all of which are receiving more appreciation at this time.
Clearly everyone wants to get through this situation sooner rather than later and we should underestimate the impact it is having on peoples lives - so do keep supporting each other, but there have been some positives. The question that arises is how can we ensure the positivity brought from a largely negative scenario, be maintained once ‘normality’ resumes and can we take some of these changes and adopt them into a new normality?
Personally, I can see differences that will continue such as family activity to be planned regularly, appreciation rather than taking things for granted and realising the importance of what is of value to me and my family.
At this difficult and unprecedented time it is all the more important for everyone to reflect on what is important and keep the positives in their new normality. Together we can beat the Coronavirus crisis and together we can build our better futures.