The past year saw Covid ravage the world over. Friends and family were stricken by illness, much of the world was forced indoors for months, and the ways of life people had grown accustomed to were turned upside down. But perhaps one of the most crippling ripple effects of Covid were the negative thoughts and feelings that arose in people’s hearts in response to the virus’s rise to prominence. Anxiety. Uncertainty. Loneliness. People turned to whatever coping mechanisms they could to help themselves deal with being frightened, cooped up, and locked down. For some, including Oats Overnight customer Stephanie Stroud, turning to gratitude was an essential part of getting through to the other side.
Turning To Gratitude
Stephanie lives in a small town in Eastern North Carolina, where she works for the local university. Its rural setting means that her town was one of the last to see cases of Covid cropping up among the population. But like so many others, Stephanie was sent to work from home mid-March of last year and has been there ever since.
Before the recent reopening of her town, she had to find ways to deal with prolonged solitude. Her husband works long hours in a seafood farm whose employees had to remain at the job site, so she has spent most of her time alone. To cope, Stephanie turned to nature, her pets, and her loved ones in order to get her through. Upon reflecting on her experience she realized that she had developed a natural gratitude for each, and this helped her move forward one day at a time.
Gratitude For Pets
Stephanie credits her dogs in helping her stay happy throughout the pandemic. In fact, it took her a few weeks for the feeling of missing things to set in because she was enjoying spending time with her animals. “At first, it was nice to have some time at home since we’d adopted a new dog—our third—at the very beginning of the month. And I got to stay home with all three of them.” The addition of a third dog was a big family decision, but it ended up working out as it allowed Stephanie to focus on integrating the new pup into the family, rather than fixating on the torrent of negativity that was flooding the news and social media at the time.
Her animals also helped her keep a normal routine, which proved important for her mental health. “Having a schedule keeps me sane. If I sleep in super late or do anything that throws me off my regular schedule, I just don’t feel great physically and mentally.” What evolved between Stephanie and her dogs was a feedback loop of gratitude: Stephanie’s gratitude for her dogs’ presence in lockdown directly affected how she interacted with them, and they were grateful in return.
Gratitude For Nature
One of the main reasons Stephanie and her husband bought their house was their large backyard. This came in handy when lockdown started, as Stephanie found that surrounding herself with nature was important for her mental health. “My husband helped me start a pretty large garden last year. I would go out every morning and pick squash, cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes… It was so fulfilling to eat something grown in my own yard that I took the time to harvest.”
Another feedback loop of gratitude formed between Stephanie and the natural world. She felt right away how being in nature improved her mood, helped keep her calm, and helped her escape the feelings of anxiety and negativity that many suffered due to being stuck inside for so long. As her gratitude for her garden grew, so too did her desire to invest time into it, and a circle of healing developed. “Working from home and being indoors for most of the day, having space outdoors to get my face away from the computer screen and get some fresh air just made me feel better overall.”
Gratitude For Friends & Loved Ones
If Stephanie could go back in time and give herself pre-quarantine advice, she would tell herself to keep up with friends and family more. “I think everyone was so wrapped up in how they were handling everything on their own that it was hard to prioritize those relationships—at least, it was for me. I feel like it may have helped me if I’d have been more grateful for the relationships that I had pre-Covid.”
At the same time, she recognizes that she has developed a strong gratitude for these relationships because of all the suffering happening around the world. “Seeing so many painful stories on TV and social media about people not being able to be with their loved ones while they were sick—or even while they were passing away—made us much more grateful to have our immediate family around and to know that they were happy and healthy.”
Stephanie is allowed to return back to the office in July and—armed with a newfound sense of gratitude for loved ones—she can’t wait to see her friends. In her eyes, it’s a blessing just to be able to hug them, go to lunch, and catch up.
Let’s Practice Appreciation TogetherAt Oats Overnight, we believe that a mind fed with gratitude is a powerful tool for personal growth. When combined with a body that is nourished by healthy daily rituals, positive change happens. We want to fuel your goals through a premium breakfast and a community of support that practices gratitude and mindfulness daily. Join us as we journey together.
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