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Mariana Plata

5 Teachings That Can Spark From a Crisis

Because we all need a little hope in our lives right now.

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Source: Unsplash

We are, undoubtedly, living tough times. The COVID-19 crisis has hit globally, and it's officially a pandemic, a term to show the global and collective impact the virus is having in our world. A situation that is bringing up several emotions: anxiety, stress, uncertainty, frustration, and fear, just to name a few.

The American Association of Psychology (APA) has already issued several tips on how to protect our mental health during these troubling times. Many of these include: filter the content we consume (both from official news sources and social media), staying in touch with our loved ones, keeping—as much as possible—a stable routine, among others.

However, I've been thinking a lot about what we can gain from this experience. Observing all the responses, attitudes, and behaviors this pandemic is evoking, I can't help but wonder: what is this trying to teach us? What transformation can this crisis spark? What type of teachings underly this crisis? Here are seven things I've thought of so far:

An opportunity to slow down. Many of the countries that have presented a coronavirus outbreak are taking several measures to promote social isolation and prevent contagion. Measures that include closing schools and promoting remote work. This type of behavior is forcing us to slow down. To take a minute to think about our health, our wellbeing and stay at home—an attitude that I think many of us need in this "autopilot" society and era we are currently living in.

An opportunity to be creative. Many of us are dealing with a challenge to work from home or have our kids at home while we try to answer e-mails and get stuff done, or online teach at our schools and universities. This challenge can represent an opportunity to practice creativity. To become resourceful and find clever ways to approach and solve this problem. If it weren't for this situation, for example, we wouldn't develop technological or collaboration skills that are so needed in this 21st century.

An opportunity to become less self-centered. In the past couple of years, I've noticed an increase in people caring about their mental health and personal well-being. An important attitude that can help us develop a healthier and steadier society. However, due to the rapid technological advances and "rush hour" collective attitude we've all embraced, we often neglect thinking in our communities. In our neighbors, in other people. This type of situation can give us an opportunity to steer away from a "you vs. me" stance and embrace a "you and I" perspective. A perspective that can allow us to tackle this problem, together. As a whole. As a family. As a team. As a country. As a collective.

An opportunity to become more mindful. The simple yet powerful suggestion of 20-second hand-washing has already forced me to become more mindful about my body and what I'm doing. It forces me to pay attention to the here and now, to bring my full attention to my behaviors and to my daily activities. Something that, maybe, without this crisis, some of us wouldn't be able to practice otherwise.

An opportunity to practice gratitude. In times of crisis, there's no phrase truer than "you don't what you have until you've lost it." The things we are craving right now (company, freedom, friends, gatherings, sun, nature) are the precise things we should always feel grateful for. This type of situation allows us to take a step back and truly thank those activities, people and situations that we might be unaware of how powerful and valuable they are to us.

During this time, remember to practice all the preventive measures to take care of yourself, as well as others. Talk to your loved ones, laugh often, do what feels good for you, and find safe spaces to express how you're feeling. If handled properly, this crisis can spark many transformations in our lives—both individually and collectively.

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About the Author

Mariana Plata is a psychologist, educator, and mental health writer based in Panama.