Gratitude, Covid-19 and me

Savannah Erasmus/May 14, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a challenge for us all.

We have all been in this together since BC declared a public healthy emergency on March 17th. Regular life as we have all known, was put on hold as the province worked to control the spread.

I started a new position in Indigenous health communications the week before the emergency. It was overwhelming and exhausting, but I kept reminding myself that while everything was uncertain and difficult, I was grateful for the new job, front line workers, my family, stand up comedy specials on Netflix and many many other things. Without knowing it, I was practicing gratitude everyday and it made everything easier as time went on.

A study by UC Berkeley confirms that expressing gratitude improves mental health over time, decreases negative emotions, and has lasting effects on the brain without being externally expressed.

By asking ourselves, “what am I grateful for?” we have the power to improve our mental well-being according to UC Berkeley’s 2017 study.

“I’m really grateful for my community, I think that is the number one thing. That includes my friends, family, and the people around me who are really taking this seriously and putting in the effort to socially distance.” Claudia Ballarte, behavioral neuroscientist

While I internally expressed my gratitude, I thought it was important to check in on my community.

I interviewed multiple friends and colleagues who shared similar sentiments: gratitude for front line workers, the ability to work from home, sunshine and more.

“I’m grateful that I live in such a beautiful place and that there is a bright blue sky. Thats what I am grateful for, and beautiful friends.” Jackie Hoffart, communications professional

Michelle Nyugen, a local artist in Vancouver who is also my roommate says she is grateful for cats, chickens, dogs, sunshine and the people she loves.

The covid-19 pandemic is not over yet, but expressing gratitude internally or externally has the power to improve your mental well-being in isolation.

My interviewees all expressed gratitude for sunshine and blue skies.