THE covid19 pandemic has been teaching us invaluable lessons for over two years now.

When the world came to a screeching halt, we all had time to reflect on changes we needed to make in our lives and our world. It is our responsibility to apply the lessons we learned both now and in the future.

Here are some lessons learnt from the pandemic over the past two years.

* Take care of nature and the environment. We share this planet with more than humans. Be mindful of encroaching on nature because it will always put us in our place through pandemics, wildfires and climate change. All life is important.

* School is about more than a place to learn. Going to school defined formal learning until the pandemic. In many ways we did not adapt to online learning in a creative way.

It couldn’t replace in-person contact with teachers and peers, but we pretended it could. Now, learning must be redefined, more student-driven and more compassionate. We must address students’ personal and social needs – even in isolation.

* Mental health is fragile and anyone can be driven to depression. Lockdowns proved how fast and easily our mood can plummet. We saw how children suffered from depression in this long covid19 battle.

The question is how do we support them in recovering and how do we apply the lessons we have learned about mental health in the future? Too often we zip through life, throw children into endless activities or sit them before an electronic device and pretend all is well. We haven’t paid enough attention to confidence-building skills.

* Exercise is important and should never have been sacrificed in the pandemic. Many people found creative ways to exercise other than gyms during the pandemic. They joined Internet or Zoom classes. But people also fell by the wayside when it came to exercise.

There must be incentives to exercise and plans for gyms to accommodate clients. Incentives could come through an exercise bonus from employers if employees prove they are enrolled in some formal exercise.

* The pandemic has taught us that we have trust issues in the workplace. Covid19 lockdowns showed us the benefits of working remotely. People were happier, healthier, more productive and more motivated.

It eased up traffic, gave people more free time, countered long commute burnout and sparked productivity because people wanted that perk. Employees had to trust employees more than ever.

* Scheduling appointments online helped alleviate those long agonising waiting times in government offices. This proved to be more efficient and should continue in the future.

* Empathy and sensitivity for those struggling in society soared in this pandemic. I can personally attest to this because of all the financial and emotional help I got for my Wishing for Wings prison projects, which included essay-writing contests, acquiring masks and covid19 supplies for prisons.

The people of this country always prove how generous they are especially in times of emergency. We can’t forget about those who struggle to make ends meet.

* Reinvention has been a must for survival. This pandemic became a time when many people had to think about new skills and new jobs. Computer skills became more important than ever.

The media were flooded with stories of minimum-wage workers in the US who took online classes during the pandemic to get out of the financial and emotional rut of jobs they never liked and which never got them ahead in life. We all need to face reinvention.

* Creativity became a core survival factor. People who had the economic means to deal with the pandemic found themselves in need of new, creative activities and hobbies to feel happy and fulfilled. People took up gardening, reading, writing, art, home renovations and other home projects.

* Relationship re-evaluation became a must in this pandemic. On one hand, many people were separated from family and friends and had to find meaningful ways to connect. On the other hand, families had to spend more time with each other and that brought challenges.

The pandemic demanded we learn patience, better communication skills and compromise so that everyone thrown together in a house could have some semblance of peace and understanding.

* The pandemic demanded we listen more and listen better – especially in the workplace. Again, media coverage in the US showed that employers had to listen to the needs of employees. Businesses learned that employees wanted more flexible working hours, opportunities for education and advancement. This pandemic taught us many lessons we can never afford to discard.