While some people have developed healthy new habits during the pandemic lockdown, if you've spent your pandemic days just getting through it, it's not too late. The good news is that the end of the pandemic is likely a more propitious time for significant change than if you had the heightened fear of lockdowns.
"Covid-19 has been a terrible time for many of us," said Laurie Santos, a professor of psychology at Yale who teaches a popular online course called The Science of Well-Being. "There is a lot of evidence of what is known as post-traumatic growth – that after negative events we can come out stronger and with a little more purpose in our lives." I think we can all use this terrible time of the pandemic to achieve post-traumatic growth in our own lives. "
What's your next chapter?
One of the biggest barriers to change has always been the fact that we tend to establish routines that are difficult to break. But the pandemic has destroyed many people's routines and prepared us for a reset, said Dr. Santos.
"We've all changed our routines so much," she said. "I think many of us realized during the pandemic that some of the things we did before Covid-19 weren't the kind of things that made our lives bloom. I think a lot of us recognized that aspects of our work and family life, and even our relationships, may have to change if we are to be happier. "
One reason new beginnings can be so effective is because people think about the passage of time in chapters or episodes rather than a continuum, said Dr. Milkman. As a result, we tend to look at the past in terms of unique periods, such as: For example, our school years, college years, years we lived in a particular city or worked in a particular job. In the future, we will likely look back on the pandemic year as a similarly unique chapter in our lives.
"We have chapter breaks like life is a novel – that's how we mark the time," said Dr. Milkman. “This has an impact on the psychology of the new beginning, because these moments, which open a new chapter, give us the feeling of a new beginning. It is easier to attribute mistakes to the "old me". You feel that you can do more now because we are in a new chapter. "
Take the Fresh Start Challenge!
While the beginning of a new chapter is a good time to change, the pages will turn quickly. Now that we are getting out of the confines of pandemic life, social scientists say this is an ideal time to reflect on what you have learned over the past year. What new habits would you like to keep and what parts of your prepandemic life would you like to change?