Member Wellbeing: What will you keep?

As West Aus­tralians begin to emerge from social iso­la­tion due to the  COVID-19 restric­tions, what will you keep?

The past few months have been extra­or­di­nary, resem­bling some­thing from a sci­ence fic­tion nov­el.  The world thrown into chaos as a super virus touched vir­tu­al­ly everyone’s lives.  Fam­i­lies sep­a­rat­ed, social iso­la­tion chang­ing every aspect of our days, liveli­hoods lost and glob­al­ly a death toll usu­al­ly asso­ci­at­ed with wars or geno­cide.  Yet, as much as COVID-19 brought the need to change how we live, it also brought the oppor­tu­ni­ty to recon­sid­er our choic­es and habits and to adapt.  Out of some­thing unthink­able came some good and some vital lessons about our­selves and oth­ers have pro­vid­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties for learn­ing, reflec­tion and reassess­ment.

As COVID-19 spread around the coun­try, work­places changed with rapid speed to allow its employ­ees to work from home.  Whilst this ini­tial­ly cre­at­ed some stress, it pro­vid­ed oppor­tu­ni­ties to slow down and to meet the com­pet­ing demands of work and fam­i­ly in unique ways.  Whilst many have lost their jobs and have had to find oth­er ways to fill their days, it also gave an insight as to the expe­ri­ence of hav­ing to be reliant on social wel­fare, an oppor­tu­ni­ty to revis­it our bias and judge­ments of oth­ers less for­tu­nate.  Places of edu­ca­tion changed to deliv­er­ing remote edu­ca­tion whilst stress­ful for many, also giv­ing some young peo­ple a reprieve from the day to day unpleas­ant­ness that the school envi­ron­ment can bring and par­ents a new appre­ci­a­tion for teach­ers.  Homes became gyms and many found the joy of exer­cis­ing for free out­doors.  Com­put­ers became a greater facil­i­ta­tor of human con­nec­tion and many chose to phone friends and loved ones rather than send texts or emoji’s bring­ing joy to oth­ers.  Beau­ty salons closed, forc­ing some of us to accept the grey and become a lit­tle less self-obsessed and more com­fort­able in our own skins.  The post office became a major shop­ping dis­tri­b­u­tion cen­tre rein­stat­ing the hum­ble postie as a deliv­er­er of joy not just bills.  The hum­ble toi­let roll became a com­mod­i­ty rivalling the bit econ­o­my bring­ing out some of our worst behav­iours and also some extra­or­di­nary acts of sim­ple kind­ness.  Doc­tors and oth­er med­ical staff came into our homes to offer assess­ments and treat­ments negat­ing the need to sit in wait­ing rooms poten­tial­ly get­ting ill­ness­es we did not ini­tial­ly have.  Veg­ie patch­es have been rein­stat­ed as sources of food and enjoy­ment, pets have been res­cued and giv­en new lov­ing homes at rates nev­er expe­ri­enced before and we all learnt that we can live at home and eat a meal with our fam­i­lies cooked at home every now and then.  Neigh­bours, who have nev­er spo­ken became known to each oth­er, fam­i­lies who had drift­ed apart reunit­ed and chil­dren have prob­a­bly spent more time out­side with their imme­di­ate fam­i­ly unit that we have seen in decades.  Politi­cians who are nor­mal­ly the sub­ject of our dis­con­tent, and front line work­ers who are nor­mal­ly for­got­ten and face­less became our dai­ly heroes and sub­jects of our grat­i­tude, appre­ci­a­tion and admi­ra­tion.  And whilst we couldn’t trav­el, our envi­ron­ment was giv­en a chance to heal and reju­ve­nate as our oceans flour­ished and our foot­print on the earth was for a few short months less­ened.

So, as we emerge from our homes and life slow­ly moves towards what will be the new nor­mal, take some time to reflect, think about how COVID-19 has changed you as an indi­vid­ual and as a mem­ber of the com­mu­ni­ty.  Think about what you have learnt about your­self and oth­ers, how resilient and adapt­able you are what strengths you have and also, what weak­ness­es.  We have been giv­en an oppor­tu­ni­ty to reset, to rede­fine our val­ues and who we are, what is impor­tant and what is not.  What will you keep?

Pam Bubrzy­c­ki

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