It’s been a year since our European lives have been shaken by Covid-19. Sometimes it really feels that all we can think and talk about is the pandemic. Well, I guess no one is to blame here. It has indeed changed our lives completely. However, this piece is not about it, I promise.
I recently found myself thinking about this “anniversary” simply because a year ago, between the end of February and the end of March I managed to go to Venice for a surprise birthday party and afterwards I attended some meetings in Brussels and directly after I began my new job at the University of Worcester. A job that was entirely reshaped by the pandemic and I adapted with it as things developed, like my own colleagues and plenty of other people all over the world.
A Difficult Year
It’s been almost a year since we all started working from home here in the UK and it seems nothing has changed, as we still find ourselves in lockdown and we are now longing for the day when restrictions will start to lift.
It seems nothing has changed, yet so many visible and invisible things have changed.
There have been previous pieces in this magazine focusing on resilience and how important it has been during this year. We could even argue that “resilience” has been the most used word in 2020!
Jokes aside, it’s so very true. Spending so many months without proper social interactions, away from our families, enduring mass amounts of stress and anxiety—even mourning our beloved ones without being able to attend their funerals—had a toll on our mental health.
I witnessed this on everyone around me and on myself too.
Here in the UK, we started off the new year with the announcement of a new lockdown. It wasn’t really the Christmas present I was hoping to find under the tree, but the situation was pretty dire, so I believe there wasn’t really any other options. I sensed that this was coming so I decided to spend my winter holidays in the UK to avoid being stranded in Italy for too long.
I have been very busy with work and all the outgoing/incoming exchange students needing assistance, and on top of that the official announcement of the non-participation of the UK in the next Erasmus Programme came up and suddenly the side effects of Brexit became truly real.
So yeah, to cut a long story short I found myself hit by the famous January blues, which is something that tends to happen every year, covid or not.
We are all in it Together
I think it wasn’t too bad as I didn’t feel alone in it. Colleagues were struggling, friends were struggling, people all over the world are struggling… we are all in the same boat! Keeping that in mind really helped me not to indulge too much in feeling low. I tend to be an overthinker, so this required some self-discipline, however suddenly I started to realise that things around me were changing. Days are getting longer, sunny days are getting warmer, daffodils and crocuses are in full bloom… spring is coming!
Our Lesson from Mother Nature
I went out for a walk in my neighbourhood a couple of days ago and I felt more cheerful and thankful.
Mother nature is, like every year, teaching us an important lesson.
Regenerating is the essence of life on this planet and whether that is more evident in plants why not seeing it also in us humans?
Spring is not only for flowers and fruits and singing birds, but spring must also be a mindset!
This sudden epiphany gave me such a boost of energy. I felt more connected to everything around me. My mood became brighter. So, I let go all my worries, all the troubling feelings and I decided I needed to embrace the upcoming new season with an open heart.
I truly hope this little reflective piece can become a way for us to connect. I hope that when you read this you smile while thinking that yeah, you felt the same as me and how good it is to share both positive and negative feelings. I also hope you bring your “spring mindset” not only to your personal domain but to the professional one as well. We really need to nurture kindness in all spheres of our lives, and since work occupies most of our daily time, why not starting from there? Whether it’s by picking up that old and long neglected email or by reconnecting with a distant work connection, I am sure great things will blossom! •
“Whenever there is a human being, there is an opportunity for a kindness.”
— Lucius Annaeus Seneca