The COVID-19 pandemic has been a life-altering event for humanity, affecting every aspect of our lives. It has disrupted our daily routines, challenged our mental and emotional well-being, and forced us to confront the fragility of life. Nearly 3 years after the pandemic swept across the world, we are still left navigating an uncertain path toward the next normal.
Kyana Moghadam, a 36-year-old multimedia journalist and audio producer from the Bay Area, is one of many who is struggling to find hope for the future. She describes feeling a sense of horizonlessness when she thinks about what lies ahead. Her experience is not unique – others who have faced personal loss or trauma during the pandemic are also grappling with similar feelings of disillusionment. To arrive at a sort of nothing place is a coping mechanism that many people have developed as a collective shield against the overwhelming unknowns of what may come next.
Dr. Aditi Nerurkar, a physician at Harvard Medical School and an expert on stress and resilience, explains that while short bursts of stress can be handled by our brains relatively well, chronic stress can lead to burnout when there is little time for recovery in between stressful events. So how do we combat this feeling of horizonlessness? Dr. Nerurkar suggests taking small steps towards building resilience: “It could be something as simple as taking 5 minutes every day to breathe deeply and clear your mind.” We need to remember that it’s okay not to have everything figured out right now. The future may seem uncertain for everyone, but that doesn’t mean we should stop striving toward our goals and dreams. Kyana shares her thoughts on this: “It feels like something that will never exist again in this world… In part, it’s the environment we’re in: climate change, the pandemic… Because the pandemic took a couple years from us, it’s interesting to feel that way in your mid-30s. It’s too uncertain.” Despite all this uncertainty, she remains hopeful about what lies ahead.
The pandemic may have changed how we think about the future forever, but it doesn’t have to define it entirely. By taking small steps towards building resilience and holding onto hope for tomorrow even when things seem bleak today, we can navigate our way towards a brighter tomorrow – even if we can’t see exactly what that looks like yet.