By Guest Blogger Tracy Huneycutt

We are living in a new normal, and we will probably never fully go back to the way things were before Covid and the pandemic changed our lives in 2020.

While there are many things I miss, and many times when I pine for pre-pandemic days, I must admit that there have been areas of my life that have changed for the better. Some of these changes could be attributed to my getting older. I am 42, and naturally maturing, while also not being as concerned with the opinions of others like I was in my 20s and 30s. However, I still credit the pandemic for much of these surprisingly positive transformations and revelations.

Reciprocating the kindness of others

We all read the dreaded news stories of our fellow humans having meltdown moments while mid-flight or while shopping. Fortunately I have witnessed quite the opposite in my day-to-day life. I see people holding elevator doors for one another, telling one another to have a nice day, and thanking others for the services they provide.

I had a recent visit with my primary care doctor. We spent about 75% of our time talking about how collectively, we are all exhausted and still concerned about the future of our nation. I believe a part of us knows that we’re in this together, and a little bit of kindness and sincerity goes a long way.

Scaling back on social media

At the same time, the majority of us have made up our minds about major decisions. We have decided whether or not to get vaccinated. We have formed our opinions about politics and other important national matters. I have noticed less and less divisive posts recently (at least from my group of social media friends). Instead I’ve seen more people either solely sharing personal updates (like vacations or milestones), or focusing on sharing inspirational messages.

This change has been a breath of fresh air. I have found myself only feeling the need to check social media a fraction of the time compared to before.

Eating more at home

My family still either visits or orders take-out occasionally from quality restaurants with friendly employees. But, the changes that have occurred in the restaurant industry since the Pandemic (longer wait times and price increases) have nudged us towards eating more of our meals from home. This has saved both money and calories. It has also opened the door to become more creative with meal planning and with trying new recipes.

Focusing on holistic health

While I try not to speak about controversial topics, many studies have shown that Covid seems to have had a stronger impact on individuals with multiple health issues. As a result, many people I know, myself included, have taken the opportunity to focus on improving their health. For many, it was the right time to finally stop making excuses, and to speak with their doctors about paths to health improvements. I have been blessed to lose over 50 pounds since 2020. I continue to make lifestyle changes – eating more natural foods, making exercise a part of daily life, and finding ways to minimize stress, such as stretching or journaling.

Appreciating time with family and friends

Covid variants will come and go, which will at times cause some events to be canceled. But overall, we are all back in the world, enjoying pre-pandemic activities again. Pre-Covid, my family always seemed to be on “the go.” I have enjoyed our new normal, which is really assessing which activities mean the most to us to participate in. We used to fill all of our weekends or school breaks with ways to stay busy. Now, we will choose a few events a month that we’d really like to try, and focus the rest of our time spending quality moments together at home. We have become more attentive to quality versus quantity, and the ensuing changes have been good for the soul.

Redefining and revamping my personal style and habits

I had done things the same way for many years. I wore the same make up, chose the same clothing colors (black!), had the same decorating style, and participated in the same routines. The changes we have all experienced post-pandemic have slowly spilled into my personal life. They have given me the encouragement I needed to shake things up. Life is too short, and I have been encouraged to step out of comfort zones.

Over the past year, I have purchased clothing in more vivid colors. I also found affordable ways to try decorating styles I have always loved. I even tried new make up techniques and hair styles. Lastly, I tried new activities that I ordinarily would not have done. Personal changes can start small, like ordering a dish you have never tried before at your favorite restaurant, signing up for a 5K (even if you walk the whole time!) or purchasing a new small appliance for your kitchen that you never thought you’d use, and researching recipes to try as a result.

I recently read a quote that said “’What will people think?’ has killed more dreams than any other phrase.” That resonated with me, as I finally stopped worrying so much about the potential opinions of others, and have done things that truly made me happy. In a way, I feel like the pandemic pushed me towards coming into my own.

So be encouraged as we enter 2022! Change can be quite hard at times, and the unknown can be scary, but I have enjoyed finding ways to make positive life changes despite the collective uncertainty we have found ourselves in.