By HANNAH MARSHALL

We live in worrying times. As the world wakes up from an international shutdown, the effects of Covid-19 are going to linger with us for a long while yet. Schools, businesses, travel, the economy: Covid-19 has changed everything. But as New Zealand takes a step closer to normal with the move to Alert Level 2, it’s the perfect time to evaluate the lessons we’ve learned from lockdown. Here are three positive things we can take away from Covid-19 – because positivity is something we could all use a bit of right now.

1. RECONSIDERING OUR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT

Covid-19 has brought the world to a complete standstill. Without air travel, cars, and factories polluting our skies, we’ve been given some much-needed room to reassess the situation of our environmental crisis. Data from the Sentinel-5P satellite has shown a dramatic drop in the levels of nitrogen dioxide in the atmosphere above Europe – the decrease is up to 54% in Paris.

For a world on the brink of environmental meltdown, these statistics can lead us to breathe a sigh of relief. But this doesn’t mean that the pandemic is a get-out-of-jail-free card for the climate crisis. According to the Director of the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service, Vincent Henri-Peuch, the drop in air pollution is unlikely to have any long-term impacts. Realistically, the pandemic won’t be the solution to our environmental woes. But it has shown us that we can reverse climate change – and we can continue this into our post-pandemic world. We’ve been offered the opportunity to re-evaluate our carbon footprints. Now it’s time for us to think twice about our impacts.

2. BEING CONNECTED

They say that it always seems to go that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone, right? Covid-19 has taught us a fair few things about appreciating the connections we have in our lives. At a time like this, our connections become more important than ever. In fact, lockdown can lead us to be more connected. Video calling app Zoom has seen its daily usage increase up to 300% since the pandemic started. Whether it’s work, school, or having a late-night deep and meaningful, there’s no doubt about it that we’re all using new ways to stay connected. Of course, nothing beats real life. But adapting our Friday nights to video calls is an experience that teaches us that even when we’re far apart, we can stay together. It’ll make the moment when we can finally meet with friends and family again even sweeter.

3. CHANGING OUR WORK-LIFE BALANCE

If you’re part of the school of thought that’s shaped our society for years, you’ll think work is work and home is home – and there’s no in-between. But Covid-19 has shaken things up. For most of us, work (or school) has become home. We’re now thrashing out last-minute assignments and holding workplace meetings from the comforts of our dining room tables, sofas, and beds. And while you shouldn’t get your hopes up that we’ll forever be working in our pyjamas, Covid-19 is likely to change the way that we work, and for the better. Sociology professor Danielle J. Lindemann reminds us that “we are not just employees, but whole selves.”

The belief that work life and family life are separate entities is an outdated and rigid concept that does not make room for the demands of modern life. By allowing flexibility in our work-life balance, we can be more adaptive and, ultimately, more productive. And while nothing will change for those of us still in school, the experience of learning in lockdown will teach us some valuable skills in the changing face of the work-life balance.

The world is changing, but it doesn’t have to be for the worst. There are many positives we can take away from our time in lockdown. Let’s use this experience as a learning tool – and let’s use it to make the world a tiny bit better.

Hannah is an aspiring author, rock music enthusiast, and professional chocolate eater.

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