Finding Silver Linings When Things Look Bleak

It seems like we’ve all been suffering in one way or another. Between issues of politics, pandemic and prejudice, it feels like our United States is anything but united, and the routines we used to rely upon have been turned upside down.

At times like this, we have to dig deep to find the silver linings in our lives, but if we look hard enough, we’ll find them. Here are a few of my observations of trends I have noticed over the past few months, taken from my own life and the conversations I’ve had with clients, friends and family. I have a feeling you might be experiencing similar scenarios.

[READ: 6 Proven Ways to Bring Happiness to Your Life.]

9 Silver Linings of the Pandemic

We’re cooking more at home.

By now it’s obvious that you don’t have to be a gourmet chef to throw a meal together. Cooking at home and swapping recipes is soaring — especially on social media — to help people connect with others to share real, genuine, easy and delicious ways to prepare food at home. This period has helped to instill cooking confidence in those that felt intimidated about preparing meals that their families would actually enjoy.

We’re making time for family meals.

Like it or not, your kids have been hanging around the house more than ever, and for many families, both parents are home as well. Studies have shown that when families gather at the table for meals, they share much more than the food on their plates. The family table encourages heartfelt conversations, and now more than ever, we need to share our feelings and concerns with each other, especially with our kids. Children of families that eat together also have been shown to have better grades, less depression and less drug use.

[SEE: Family Meals Using Pantry Staples.]

We have unexpected guests.

Grown children who had already moved out, elderly parents who were unable to live alone and adopted pets came home. When quarantine began, our middle son moved home for four months, and then our eldest son, his wife and kids moved in after that. Our youngest son will be here by October. In these situations, although the word hectic may occasionally precede household, the coronavirus’ shutdown and working from home has brought families together in a unique way that may never have otherwise occurred.

Keeping loved ones close and helping them stay healthy has been a light in the storm for many of us. Sadly, we also know that many of us have suffered in so many ways, facing unemployment, immeasurable stress and the illness or loss of people we care about.

We’re getting out of here.

COVID-19 has certainly kept us from traveling, but it’s no longer keeping us from getting outside. Ron Schneidermann, CEO of AllTrails, a mobile app that helps you find and get access to trails for hiking, running, walking and biking, has noticed that in early March and April, people were skeptical about leaving the shelter of their homes. But that trend has changed, and now it seems like many of us are appreciating the outdoors mid-week, as much as we did on weekends. Schneidermann’s app also helps us stay fit while staying socially distant by informing us about how crowded a trail is, so that you could choose your path safely.

We’ve become master bakers.

Who would ever think that yeast, flour and baking soda would sell out in supermarkets? People are baking more than ever. Even people that had no baking skills are becoming BFFs with their ovens because baking brings comfort, a sense of satisfaction and a way to connect in the kitchen with their kids, a significant other or friends and family via video.

We’ve been shopping the middle aisles.

We’re often told to shop the perimeter of the store where my favorite department (produce) lives, but during the pandemic we welcomed the foods that reside in the middle aisles such as canned beans, whole grain pastas, nuts and a variety of frozen fruits and veggies. There was also more experimentation with store brands and new foods owing to the lack of previous favorites on store shelves.

We stopped talking about fad diets and welcomed back carbs.

Comfort foods like pasta, baked goods and homemade sourdough bread kicked diets like keto and paleo out of our minds. Although some people complained about weight they gained while stuck at home, there are also many who discovered online fitness programs and consumed less calories because of less dining out in restaurants. Many of my clients actually lost weight using this time.

[See: Foods That Can Support Your Immunity.]

We’ve been productive when working from home.

I’ll admit that at the start of quarantine, I created a new recipe for zucchini muffins, and I forgot to add the zucchini. Distraction was paramount and productivity was more of a hope than a reality. But as time went on, like many others, we learned to meet through Zoom to chat and carve a space within our homes that helped us do our jobs and connect with co-workers and family … minus a lengthy commute.

We’re paying attention to our immune systems.

Foods that support a healthy immune system, like those rich in vitamins C, D and E, have made it to headlines. Prebiotics, probiotics, post-biotics, omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants are words that have crossed our lips, even though many of us are not quite sure about what they are or what they actually do. And just as important as protecting our current state of health, the desire to learn about and follow a nutrient-rich diet are goals to help safeguard us from the reemergence of coronavirus in the future.

Although I have been known to be overly optimistic, when it comes to this virus, I’m also realistic. My perpetual search for silver linings still keeps me mask-wearing and cautious about crowds. I can say, though, that I can commit to staying focused on all of the above, and I hope that you’ll find some room to make these habits regulars in your routines as well.

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