Lifestyle article

The upside of the past two years

23 November, 2021

Following a challenging couple of years we reflect on some of the positives of life in a pandemic.

Fortunately, it looks as if we’re returning to some semblance of normality here in Australia, after two years that have been anything but.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has affected every one of us to varying degrees. From the consequences of the virus to the seemingly endless lockdowns - our lives have been forced to take a very different course.

Naturally, everyone’s experience has differed. For some it’s been a period of extreme loneliness, separated from friends, family and work colleagues for weeks and months on end. For others, it’s been the opposite – homeschooling combined with working from home has meant there’s rarely a moment of quiet.

We’ve had to do things a little differently. For many it’s been an opportunity to rediscover pastimes and hobbies we thought were long gone – whether it’s picnics with (a limited number of) friends or making jam.  We’ve been reminded to appreciate the small things in life far more than we’ve ever been able to. And that’s not a bad thing.

With airlines grounded and cars doing far fewer journeys, our planet has also had the chance to breathe. The reduced environmental impact is something 25% of Australians want to see continue moving forward1 long term.

It would be remiss not to mention the mental health challenges that have come as a result of our upturned lives, and the increase in domestic violence that have been reported. In fact, 65% of women experiencing family and domestic violence reported the abuse either began or escalated since the onset of COVID-192. Being locked down has been incredibly tough.

So while we’re happy to see the back of a lot of things, here are a few that we hope will be permanent additions to our lives.

New hobbies  

While time has been a precious commodity for some, it’s been something that needs filling for others. Research shows that 54% of Australians started at least one new ‘trendy’ hobby during the pandemic – with home workouts (37%), baking sourdough or banana bread (17%) and making Tik Tok videos (13%) at the top of the list3.

Eating in

Before COVID-19 came along, home cooking was on the decline in Australia. But, with dining out at restaurants out of the equation for many of us, home cooking has enjoyed a revival. The pandemic has seen a huge rise in the amount of time people spend on food and cooking websites4, while sales in many grocery categories saw significant rises5 as people donned their aprons and got out their oven gloves. It’s a talent worth harnessing.

Shopping locally

Local businesses have been hard hit during the pandemic, and many people have been more conscious of supporting them in preference to national and global chains. In fact, 41% of global consumers say the pandemic has inspired them to shop locally, and 94% are planning to continue that post-pandemic6. Shopping locally supports the community and, let’s face it, comes with a sense of satisfaction that you’ve been able to help!

Rediscovering Australia

While international travel has been well and truly off the cards, travelling within your own state has been a little easier. Sometimes. Being forced to spend downtime ‘at home’ has led to people rediscovering what’s on their doorstep, and 27% of people have said they plan to continue taking domestic holidays in the future.

New appreciation of our families and friends (and teachers!)

‘You don’t know what you’ve got ‘till it’s gone’ has never been truer than during the past two years. Yes, all families and friends have disagreements now and again, but being separated from each other has certainly brought a whole new appreciation of each other.

The same goes for school teachers.  For those of us who have taken on home school responsibilities, we are now a bit more appreciative of how much our teachers do for our students each year!

Changing how we work and commute

Let’s face it, no one likes to sit in peak hour traffic – and it took a global pandemic to show us how ridiculous the whole thing really was. With office workers believing they’re more productive from home7 and 47% of businesses happy to continue with remote working8 – at least in part – it’s likely the change to how we work and how we commute will be a lasting one.

Of course, while many of us are looking forward to being able to go out and about, and travel more freely both domestically and internationally, it’s understandable that’s tempered by some degree of caution. It’s been a challenging time and there’s no right and wrong way to approach the coming months. Some people will dive straight back in and others will tread more carefully. It’s important to remember you’ve got to do what’s right for you.

Three things we’ll be glad to see the back of:

Zoom quizzes

They were fun, and certainly served a purpose, but we’ll be quite happy never to be invited to one again!


Having to wonder ‘can I leave the house for this’ on the rare trips from the four walls was more like something from a dystopian novel. No more lockdowns. Please.

Home schooling

It may have been a bit more fun if we weren’t trying to work at the same time, but still – teachers, you’re brilliant, we love you… please keep teaching the kids.