The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of us. Life seems more fragile. Things we took for granted have disappeared, like holidays! Other things, many unwanted, have taken their place, like social distancing and masks.
Many of us may feel that life has got worse, for a while at least. But now that we start to reset and regain our independence, what have we learned? And where will that learning take us? Will we just fall back into old routines? Or will we be wiser and take the positives?
We’re encouraging colleagues to share what they’ve learned as we all reflect on where we are and what we’ve been through.
Whatever you think you’ve learned – either about yourself or the world around us - please share it with us at ‘What the pandemic taught me’ at firstname.lastname@example.org
Rose Green, Project Support Officer, ITS
I am much more of a ‘home body’ than I thought I was! I have spent most of the last year in the house, only scuttling out to the local shop for essentials. I have also realised my almost total dependence on technology – for work and leisure. Work-wise, I have not had to go into the office at all because everything I need is on my OneDrive and Teams.
I have a greater capacity for focus than I previously gave myself credit for. I hadn’t worked much from home because I worried about the number of distractions, but I have worked at the same level, if not slightly higher, throughout the lockdown. Now, WFH is my preferred mode.
As for the wider world, I have seen how people have a huge capacity for kindness and patience with one another – as long as they have ample quantities of toilet rolls, spaghetti, soup and beans!
Dr Samantha Brooks, Reader in Cognitive Neuroscience
Just before the pandemic hit the UK, my dear Dad passed away at 77 after a brave, three-year battle with cancer. Like many people who have lost loved ones during the pandemic - we all had, to learn to go on with life without him. My Mum has been a real source of comfort and wisdom, in the way that she has taught us to remember to nurture self-reliance and resilience. It reminds me of that very British, stoic trait, encompassed in the phrase "keep calm and carry on".
Self-reliance and resilience are the most important things I've learned during the pandemic. While I have of course dearly missed person-to-person contact with family and friends this year, I have also been reminded of my strength of character that has helped me to carry on, during all of these very hard, life-changing events. And not just to carry on, but to evolve – I’ve learned oil painting, to change the oil in my car and fix a puncture on my bicycle, to discover that I can make great banana and walnut bread, and that I am a dab-hand at gardening! I've also been reminded, that I'm my own best friend in times of need - and that we learn most about ourselves during times of struggle.
Dr Peter Blundell, Senior Lecturer in Counselling and Psychotherapy
“The pandemic has highlighted to me the importance of human connection. I have been unable to see students or fellow colleagues in-person for over a year now, but it has been important to still find ways to sustain those relationships. I have also made many new relationships, some of these have only ever been online. Learning to connect and collaborate with others, whilst not necessarily having them physically present, has been extremely challenging. However, this has also led to interesting and innovative ways of working and connecting with each other. I am hopeful that a lot of this learning will remain as we hopefully move back to a more physically connected world”
Kat Geer, Marketing Manager, Business & Law & Liz Mahon, Lecturer in Nutrition, Sport and Exercise Sciences
Together we learnt the importance of creativity, and our friendship helped motivate and inspire each other to come up with new creative ideas.
We’d normally take part in races, or group running and go for trail runs in the Welsh mountains, but when all that is stripped away you have to create your own challenges and adventures that are closer to home. Whether that be a virtual triathlon where the ‘swim’ involves your children shooting you with water pistols, or a two person ‘running club’ where you have to try to win cups on Strava or climb the height of Everest on your stairs. By regularly socialising together and keeping active in nature we were able to keep our spirits up, this was particularly helpful in winter, when getting out in the dark, cold and often wet evening to go running was actually a lot of fun.
Creativity has been important in our lecturing too; we would come up with ideas whilst out running and put them into action in the classroom. Our creative ideas also helped us to raise a total of £3217 for Age UK and Maggie’s Centres.
Send us your ‘learnings’ either about yourself or the world around us, including your job title and a picture to ‘What the pandemic taught me’ at email@example.com