As the academic year comes to a close for most students, I think it’s safe to say that we’re exhausted. It has been over a year now of handling the adverse effects of the pandemic. We all must be tired of hearing the many pep talks about personal growth, facing challenges, and these unprecedented times – I’m just over it at this point. Everywhere you look, the only topic being discussed is the pandemic and the millions of lockdowns, shutdowns, and stay-at-home orders we’ve had to suffer through. Although there seems to be a glimmer of hope here and there, the world just seems redundant and grey now. My point is, we’re all sick of reading and hearing about the toll that COVID-19 has taken. To spin things around and end on a happier note, here are a few positive impacts we’ve seen as a result of the pandemic!
- Mother Earth’s Slow Recovery
With decreased mobility, the environment finally has a chance to breathe. According to researchers, “the locking down of cities has significantly improved the environmental quality with a sharp drop in air pollution levels across several countries.” (Kumar, Malla, & Dubey, 2020) Researchers have found evidence that the air quality has considerably improved after various lockdowns showing lower levels of Nitrogen Dioxide, a highly reactive gas. If you needed a breath of fresh air, now’s your time to get outside! Further, with less traffic, noise pollution is at a minimum. With less noise pollution, people can expect to see an improvement in their concentration levels, communication, and productivity! Not to mention how our beaches and wildlife are finally able to thrive. It seems like an absence of human contact does a lot of good for the world!
- Relationships Are Flourishing
When we talk about relationships improving as a side effect of quarantine, that includes the relationship with yourself! The pandemic and its stress have definitely hit us hard, but once you hit rock bottom the only way forward is up. Being in lockdown forced people to prioritize what mattered most. The importance of mental health was recognized and the stigma surrounding it became less relevant. Strangers became more compassionate and workplaces became more open to compromises with employees. People have found a new appreciation for time and put effort into spending it with those who matter. While quarantine has allowed some of us to regain close relationships with family members, it has also highlighted the hidden toxic ones. As a blessing in disguise, these lockdowns have helped a lot of us realize who has our back and who couldn’t care less. Whether you’ve made new connections, strengthened old ones, or completely lost a few, when it comes to relationships, this pandemic has definitely brought a lot of clarity with it.
- New-Found Appreciation
This next one does not, in any way, shape, or form, undermine the racism and division that has sprung on as a result of the pandemic. We are all well aware of the violent and dangerous impacts of this global virus and multiple lockdowns. However, I think it’s important to recognize the kindness that has risen in some areas as well. A lot of us have a new-found appreciation for our healthcare workers on the front line. Many restaurants came together to provide meals for healthcare workers in hospitals and clinics. People were donating masks and PPE equipment before the government provided them, and stores were holding specific hours for seniors to shop since they would be at a higher risk of contracting the virus. It is really comforting being able to see some form of unity across nations. When Cuba, a country notorious for its tourism opportunities, sent more than 2000 doctors and nurses to various countries to help control the virus, it looked like humanity had finally begun to shine (Augustin, 2020).
Now over a year since this whole mess unravelled, we still have a long road to normalcy ahead – at this point, I’m beginning to feel like I don’t even remember what that version of normal was! The media constantly shows us the harsh realities of the pandemic, but it’s really important to recognize the bright side in times like these. If there’s anything we’ve learned from this whole situation, it’s that we are in charge of our own happiness. There will always be chaos; it’s what we make of it that counts.