5 Life Lessons I’ve learnt from COVID-19

Have you heard of Eyam Village before?

I didn’t, until reading about this little English village in the BBC news recently. It lost 260 villagers to the plague in 1965, from a tiny population of no more than 800 at estimate.

The striking part, the awe-inspiring part, the ‘would I have been able to do this’ part, is the village’s agreement to go into quarantine to prevent the spread of the plague. No one left, and their act saved thousands of individuals.

I count myself incredibly lucky that I have not been put to such a test. In the meantime, here are 5 other things I’ve learnt during this time besides Eyam Village, that I thought I should put down into words for myself lest I forget. I’m sharing them with you, dear reader, in case they’ll help you too.

1) We have it in ourselves to be a little kinder

Most of us have seen these wise words from British writer Damian Barr about being in the same storm, but on different boats.

Have you, like me, sat back to ponder what kind of boat you’re on?

Maybe you’re clinging onto an inflatable boat for dear life. Perhaps, just perhaps, you’re a lucky individual standing on the deck of a cruise ship that has been moored to a pier.

We’re all experiencing the effects of the pandemic differently, so let us reserve our judgements and be patient with one another. Is it within your abilities to rescue someone onto your boat? Great! Try reaching out to ask how he or she is doing and if you can help in any way!

Don’t forget to be kind to yourself, too. It’s so tempting to measure your productivity or worth against others right now, but try to squash any rising self-doubt. The extra pressure honestly won’t get you anywhere, and you’ll have tomorrow to try differently again.

2) It’s okay to spend a little to keep ourselves sane, but it’s also necessary to be prudent

Tea is terrific. The act of brewing a fresh cup has become routine and grounds me in the familiar. If you’re feeling lost and confused, I recommend finding something easy to do that can be made a daily habit. Be it tea drinking or journal writing, that little act will return some control and structure to your day.

Pursuing new hobbies have been great, too.

The trouble only happens, personally, when I’ve to wrestle against the siren song of promotion notifications that pop up on my phone. Free delivery, one screams. 30% off almost gets me clicking ‘Check Out’.

If this is you against all the new things you want to do or buy—shopping is therapeutic, I get it—here’s the way I get out of things.

  1. I leave my items in the cart and wait until I get send an abandoned cart email (if you’re lucky, some come with sales offers so that you’ll bite)
  2. I ask myself if it’s a truly good investment, and remind myself that these items or discounts will eventually return
  3. I go to people I know who will be the voice of reason (don’t find the enablers, okay)
  4. I pull up the very sombre, morose news about how Singapore is ‘heading for the worst recession since independence’[i], and will possibly have 14x more people losing their jobs[ii] this year. Money will be harder to come by for everyone, so YOLO-ing might have to be put on the backburner for the foreseeable future. Treat myself (and support local!), yes, but save for the storms ahead too.

These steps usually help with damage control! Budgeting does as well.

3) Spend more time with and on your loved ones

If there’s one major takeaway social distancing has brought us, it’s how we rely on a tribe to keep going. If there’s one major takeaway COVID-19 has brought us, it’s how life is fragile. Send care packages and snail mail when you can, fire off a quick text to wish somebody a lovely morning, hug your family members. Build up to ‘I Love Yous’. Light-hearted ones. Quiet ones. Excited ones. Express your fondness and appreciation in all the ways that count.

After all, there’s never enough love to go around.

4 Disruption is always around the corner

Private-hire companies disrupted the ride-hailing industry and in turn COVID-19, quickly and unexpectedly[iii], disrupted the private-hire industry. We always talk about future-proofing yourself and the like here on Digital Senior, and these words cannot ring any truer during these uncertain times.

As the popular saying goes, change is the only constant. Always stay open to learning—for fun too, of course—and personal growth! Take a couple of free courses, explore new interests every now and then. You never know when what you’ve come across will come in handy.

Personally? I’ve been watching a few cooking classes just for fun, even though I won’t be putting anything into practice anytime soon, and have tried to watch a few classes to build up on my negotiation skills. While staying focused has been requiring major effort, they do say that you need 21 days to build up good habits, right?


5) Try as we might, we can’t be fully prepared for everything

The pandemic threw our lives off-kilter and reminded us of how unpredictable life can be. Seize the day and the time you have to do what you’ve put off doing. The best time to start something new is the present, because you won’t know what tomorrow will bring!

Also expect the unexpected and learn how to be adaptable. Resilience will be your best friend. It’s tough, I know. We’ll all work on taking things in stride together!

Here’re some wise words from Oprah Winfrey to live by: “Breathe. Let go. And remind yourself that this very moment is the only one you know you have for sure.” As we continue to study or work, whether from home or elsewhere, let us never forget to live in the moment. What can we work on today?

Do you have any takeaways of your own to share with us? Leave a comment below!


[i] https://www.straitstimes.com/business/economy/spore-to-sink-into-deeper-recession-than-expected-2020-growth-forecast-cut-to

[ii] https://www.todayonline.com/singapore/covid-19-pandemic-could-lead-150000-200000-retrenchments-say-economists

[iii] https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/covid-19-grab-revenue-hit-prepares-for-long-winter-ride-hailing-12732528




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