Some people will look for the silver linings in anything, including a devastating pandemic. Even nearly a year in, it seems too early to find any upside to COVID-19. The psychological and economic hardships alone have been egregious, and we have every reason to be excited about vaccines and recovery.
But facing this kind of all-encompassing adversity has also revealed something about our priorities — and our capabilities. That's according to mental health researchers at the U.K.'s University of Bath, who have just released a study on the "post-traumatic growth" experienced during lockdown. In fact, almost 9 out of 10 study participants agreed that something positive had come into their lives because of the pandemic and social distancing restrictions.
A majority of this self-identified growth stems from the necessity of slowing down and nurturing relationships more carefully. Nearly half of survey respondents said they had experienced better relationships with their families; more than 1 in 5 "described feeling a greater appreciation for life, involving the reassessment of their personal values and priorities, and the opportunity to 'reconsider what's really important.'" A similar number have adopted "healthier lifestyles," while others experienced spiritual growth or self-discovery of other sorts.
COVID has also prompted reexaminations of numerous social grievances, such as reasonable work schedules, workplace flexibility, office design, overall cost of living versus compensation, and all kinds of inequalities. The pandemic may feel so pervasive that it's almost normal now, but we've all changed, both in ourselves and in what we're no longer willing to put up with.