A male couple walks outdoors wearing masks

Lessons Learned During a Pandemic

By Lindsey Hall

“Can everyone see my screen?” 
“Sorry, I was on mute.”
“Is that someone’s dog barking?”
“It’s SO great to see everyone, even if it’s by video!”

Happy (almost) fall, everyone! Still loving virtual connection? Just kidding. We know you’re sick of Zoom calls. We’re sick of Zoom calls, too (though we don’t mind the loungewear dress code).

Around this time of year, we’d typically focus on back to school and the transition from summer. But with the continued uncertainty, it’s a little different this year...and we want to acknowledge that. 

While we know this won’t last forever, it doesn’t dismiss the months we’ve endured in quarantine and in a changing world from what we were used to. As with anything, there are lessons to be learned. And lessons we’re all still learning about ourselves through this period of history. In light of this, we asked some of YOU what lessons you’ve been learning. 

From recognizing that you can sit with your thoughts to allowing rest as part of your self-care routine, I related to a ton of insights people shared. For me, losing the gym was a blessing in disguise, but it was only once I lost the ability to go to one that I realized how much I still depended on movement to feel “okay” with my body. It was humbling to come to terms with this...and isn’t that recovery? To always be humbled? I’ve chosen to look at it as a stepping stone that I hadn’t turned yet. And now that it’s turned, well, it can never be unturned in the same way. 

Here’s more of what people had to say about mental health and recovery in a pandemic: 

“My mental health is much better with firm boundaries around seeing others.” - Rebecca L.

An interesting lesson I, too, learned... Prior to the pandemic, I traveled for work on an almost weekly basis. I never turned down an invitation for dinner with a friend, and I flew home to Texas at least once a month for ANY and EVERY event. Baby showers, friend birthdays, weddings, family dinners, you name it. And it’s been a giant relief to have boundaries set in place for me on not having to uproot and travel whenever someone asks. 

“I am still susceptible to the false sense of ‘safety’ that diet culture promises.” - Andrea V.

This is a valuable lesson here, and one that many are learning (or so I’m seeing from my Instagram direct messages).

“I used to be scared of being alone because that’s when my thoughts got dark. Now I’ve learned that it’s okay to be by yourself. Thoughts come and go.” - Hannah M.

Insert hands up praise emoji. This was a key finding in recovery but a harder one to keep learning. We sit with our thoughts, one minute to the next. And knowing they’ll pass is crucial.

“The more recovered you are, the less stressful it is to be bored.” - Jordan G.

I loved this insight, maybe because I related to it (and isn’t that why we love any quote...the relatability). In many ways, being bored is a privilege, but it doesn’t feel that way when we’re not friends with our thoughts yet. 

“I can be unavailable without being busy. I deserve downtime.” - Rebecca G.

To me, this spoke to the changing landscape of working from home. There’s a ton of memes out there about having no boundaries from emails now that we’re all working from our living rooms. But this insight speaks to the idea that we can put on that “away” message without needing to actually be “doing” something. 

“Resting/sitting about is ok, family is important, it’s ok to gain weight.” - Kimberly

Yes, yes and yes. Enough said. Even if it’s your chosen family. 

“There is no such thing as ‘normal.’ We all have to go at our own pace and do things that work for us. Time is precious and we need to learn how to sit with ourselves. We are all healing and recovering from something, and we all deserve to take the time to heal and grow while also uplifting and empowering those around us.” - Alia

I related to this as well. I was unemployed for three months during quarantine. While at first it was an uneasy feeling to not know what to do with my time, it ended up being one of the biggest blessings I’ve had in the last few years. I was able to heal in a slower environment and actually be at my own pace. 

“I can tolerate more uncertainty and discomfort than I give myself credit for.” - Danielle V.

A valuable lesson for those in recovery and those not in it. We’re all sitting in some uncertainty, and I think many of us have realized how resilient mankind is through it. 

“I have a lot of behaviors I have yet to let go of. I am scared of life more than I ever knew. But the biggest lesson: I am so much stronger and infinitely braver than I ever gave myself credit for.” - Lex D.

And that, friends, is life in recovery. 

Lindsey Hall is an eating disorder recovery speaker and writer. Learn more about her journey toward recovery here.

Written by

Lindsey Hall

Lindsey Hall is an award-winning eating disorder recovery speaker and writer, focusing on what she refers to as "the nitty gritty topics not discussed." Having struggled with the eating disorder cycle…