finding the POSITIVES in a pandemic

Over the past few weeks, even months, I have seen a lot of negative energy on the rise and understandably so. We are facing a life-changing pandemic. In Australia people are panicking and that is partly due to the effect of the virus, partly to the insecurity of jobs and the ability to provide for yourself and your loved ones, partly due to the overall uncertainty of what our future entails – though it is becoming abundantly clear a global recession is on the cards, and partly it is due to our government appearing slow to act and inconsistent in the messages they are sending, if they are sending any at all. These times are worrisome. For someone with MS the thought of getting Covid-19 and there not being a hospital bed available for me is a little terrifying. But, there are a lot of good things to take advantage of at this time and actions you can take to make your experience the best it can be during times of such uncertainty.

As I wrote that I couldn’t help but notice some parallels between the uncertainty we are facing and the uncertainty of life with multiple sclerosis. I don’t really know what is going to happen tomorrow with my MS and in the current situation with Covid-19 I’m not really sure what’s going to happen tomorrow with that either. With that in mind, and perhaps because my overall attitude is one that swings to the bright side, I can’t help but approach this by looking for the positives. I encourage you to do the same as we’re in this together and we’re in this for the long haul.

One of the positives of my job now moving to working from home is that I no longer need to commute for 2 hours each day. This is incredible! This has opened up a world of possibilities of what I can do with that time. My first idea was naps, many naps, and as I have been a bit sick these last few weeks I did need a couple of naps to rest and recover, but after this I realised this was an opportunity to do all those things I had been wanting to focus on but hadn’t had the time. Now I have 2 hours of extra time!

To start with, I am focusing on my physical health. As the pandemic started gaining steam I decided to stop going to the gym to protect myself. As a result, I need to find a way to get the workouts I’ve been doing in the gym into my daily routine at home. Thankfully there is a wealth of resources online for us to access to help adapt the workouts I did in the gym into a home setting. I also live close to a national park, as well as a football field so I have spaces to run or do interval training as part of my routine as long as the Covid-19 recommendations allow it.

After this, I’m focusing on taking time to work on mental health. I used to meditate, in a way, on my commute to work in the mornings, or on the commute on the way home but I don’t feel it was a deep restorative meditation as the environment was busy. Now I have an opportunity to sit in a quiet environment and use that time to meditate and feel some deep benefits of that.

I also have the opportunity to brush up on my language skills. I was taking language lessons once a week rather late at night as it was the only time I had available. With the flexibility of working from home, with no commute freeing up 2 hours a day, I can use some of that time to improve my language.

On top of all of this, David is also working from home as well. I’ve seen that some people aren’t looking forward to being cooped up in the same room with their partners both working from home but I’ve honestly loved it. We are able to help each other out work-shopping issues we may have in our jobs and as we are in such different fields we are able to offer perspectives and suggestions that we wouldn’t necessarily come to on our own. It’s also meant we get to share moments we don’t normally as David is usually gone early in the morning and I’m home late in the evening. Now, we’re both there for the morning and evenings to spend together as a family, we get to spend our lunch times together, and if we want to go for a walk or a bike ride together we don’t have to wait for the weekend to do it. I am loving this extra time with David, as well as the extra time with our son Max. I feel the bonds between us are growing stronger and that is something I value.

The last thing is using this abundance of technology we have to connect virtually with friends and family. So you can’t see people in person any more it doesn’t mean you can’t still connect with them. We have Facetime, Skype, all manner of video calls, online games that you can share with others, virtual museum tours, movie parties you can host over the internet, there is no reason that those coffee catch ups you used to do can’t still be done, but instead of meeting down at the cafe you meet over Skype. We are fortunate at the time this is happening to us that we can still be so connected whilst we are isolated. Take advantage of that.

These are just some of the things you could focus on during these times, and you can do all of these cheaply. We are going to hit hard days ahead, David and I are unsure of how long our employment will hold out, but just as with my MS when I don’t know when the next relapse will happen, I can’t focus on that, I need to focus on the now. Now, I have more time to improve myself and focus on my loved ones whilst still being able to be productive at work so I’m going to take advantage of that opportunity.

I encourage you to do the same, to look at your situation and find the positives, the good things, and focus on those.

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