Before You are Released Back Into the Wild: Here are the Top 10 Life Lessons from the Coronavirus to Take With You
Erika Fehrenbach Prell
You might be saying, “girl, you are crazy. How can there be lessons from this ordeal?”. Here’s the thing, DreamChaser, our best lessons come from the hard stuff...the failed attempts, the struggles, the dark times. Like many others, the coronavirus pandemic has been one of the most trying times in my life on multiple levels. I am sure I am not alone in that it has been, ahem, challenging to see the positives and possibilities. There have been a few times that I have fallen to the feelings of panic, uncertainty, darkness. I am here to tell you that it’s okay to go there; you need to feel these feels, but only for a moment. Then, you need to flip the script and find the positives. Choose faith over fear, DreamChasers! This will not only build your resiliency, gratitude, and positivity muscles, it will also make you better when you come out of this. When, as I like to put it, we are all released back into the wild.
This brings me to today’s topic, the lessons to learn from the coronavirus pandemic. This list is where I turn to when I find myself spiraling into the darkness, to find the blessings in the stressings and choose faith over fear. We can’t control that this is happening but we can control how it affects us from this point forward. My hope for you is to give you a list to keep perspective and allow you to see this as an amazing gift. Without further ado, here is the Top 10 Life Lessons from the Coronavirus to Take with You:
10. The human spirit is hard to break
All of us are stronger and more resilient than we give ourselves credit for. You are capable of doing hard things when called upon. This pandemic has challenged your limits but you can come out better on the other side because of it. You just have to choose to do so
9. Realizing how cool it is to connect creatively
My brother and his family, including my 2 nephews, live in San Diego, and many of our friends are several hours away. Pre-coronavirus pandemic, I used Zoom often for business meetings but it never crossed my mind to use it socially! This has been an amazing avenue to play games, have a talent show, enjoy online music performances, virtual book club, and happy hours during the quarantine. And, once released into the wild, I will definitely be using this to “hang out” with those farther away more often.
8. A savings account isn’t just for a rainy day
I know I have heard it before; save for an emergency fund. Emergency fund meaning that vacation I want to go on, right? Eh. Wrong. Emergency fund as in if you suddenly find yourself off of work unexpectedly. Start saving a certain amount from each paycheck for your emergency fund; many bank accounts can allow you to take a certain amount or percentage out as soon as you get paid and have it go to a savings account. When you automatically “pay yourself”, you don’t have to rely on willpower later. And, in the event that you find yourself needing it, that emergency fund gives you much needed breathing room.
7. Life doesn’t need to go at a frantic pace
The pace of life doesn’t have to be frantic and go, go, go all the time. I am guilty of packing way too much and not prioritizing chill time (or, when we have chill time, actually relaxing). Guess what? To-do lists can wait, making memories can’t. I am using this time to evaluate my priorities and align my priorities with where I spend my time. Instead of jumping right back into doing all the things, I am redesigning my post-coronavirus schedule leading with my priorities, including chill, quality family time and the often forgotten self-kindness time.
6. Kindness is easy to give.
The outpouring of kindness to others has been astounding during this time. Chalk designs, inspirational sayings, hearts in the windows, shout outs to health care and emergency workers, donations to those in need, making masks...the creativity and list goes on. These messages are so powerful in times of crisis; they might be what keeps someone from going to that dark place. Know what? This is what the world needs more of all the time.
5. Health is taken for granted until it’s threatened.
Many of us set health goals. Eat better. Sleep more. Drink more water. Lose weight. The list is full of great intentions but no action. Been there! Then, I push it off until tomorrow, or next week, or next month…when I have the best plan to be successful. Putting your health off is how you end up on the vulnerable population list of not only the coronavirus pandemic but also those at most risk for the annual surge of influenza. The time is now to take steps to be your healthiest self.
4. Practicing self-kindness is a priority.
Self-kindness is more than self-care. It’s speaking kindly to yourself. It’s doing things that make you feel passionate, joyful, happy, that feeds your soul. It’s pursuing what gives you purpose (and this can be more than one thing). And, it is learning how to bring your internal feelings of chaos and stress down. These are the things that are often put on the backburner to everything else. This time of crisis and pandemic has shown that the more you take care of yourself, the better you are able to take care of others, bounce back, stay positive, and live your best life, not your stressed life.
3. Invest in relationships that matter
Not all relationships are the same, and our time and energy should be devoted to those that matter most. This pandemic showed us our inner circle, those that we were quarantined with; these are our most important relationships. Those that you made an effort to creatively spend time with or stay in touch with, that is your next circle of importance. Those that didn’t cross your mind or were okay with letting go of until “this is over”? These are the relationships that deserve the least of your energy and time or, perhaps, are okay to let go altogether.
2. Be present.
Remember that time when all you wanted to do was see real people? Hug them? Hang out? Have a conversation that isn’t yelling across the yard or via computer conference call? This is not judgment because I am guilty; before coronavirus, how often did your phone or the TV or some other electronic pull your attention away from the people you were spending time with? When I am released back to the wild, I will remember how precious real, live human interaction is; the cell phone will be put down during these times. Someone can leave a message, just like in the old days when we had answering machines.
1. Sometimes you have to do what is right over what is easy.
This is a big one. The safer at home order was to benefit the greater good. It is not easy or convenient or fun or a way that most of us would choose to live. It’s a huge lesson, however, that sometimes you just have to do what is right, even if it’s hard, over what is easy. This is an awesome lesson to teach our children on standing up to bullies or saying no to peer pressure, choosing what is right even when it isn’t popular.
Here’s the thing, DreamChasers, I am 100% an extrovert. I love people, I love socializing, I love being on the go. I joked early on that you need to check on your extrovert friends as we are not okay. The first few days were the hardest for me. While I would not say it has gotten easier, I feel lighter. I have chosen to see the positive, to flip the script any time I go to the darkness and negative. I have chosen to come out a stronger family unit and a stronger individual after this. These are just my current top 10 lessons from coronavirus, lessons that are blessings, not stressings; there are more on my list, and I know there will be more added. My hope for you is to find your own during this time!
P.S. Oh yeah...I almost forgot an important lesson...Wash your hands!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell is passionate about inspiring and educating, others on their path to complete wellness-mind,body, and soul. This desire led Erika to the helping profession of nursing, and she obtained her Master's Degree as a Nurse Practitioner in 2007. Erika specialized in cardiac surgery, largely influenced by her personal experience with heart disease. While she loved working with this population, her heart's desire has always been to impact lives on a larger scale and from a proactive, not reactive, place. The universe answered when her path crossed with Jackie and SoulShine was born. Erika finally feels she is walking in her purpose and is excited for this journey to unfold.