Why it’s important to celebrate small wins even during a pandemic

Research shows people who incorporate a daily habit of practising gratitude are less anxious and have overall better physical health

Graduate Cece Kim zip lines from the school to the stage where she grabs her diploma from head administrator Jeff Cooper during The University School's Diploma Grab Celebration in Old Colorado City in Colorado Springs, Colo., on Friday, May 22, 2020. The private Christian K4-12 school is best known for their adventure program. With adventures at their core, staff wanted to incorporate a creative and fun way to embrace the pandemic while they celebrate 24 of their graduating seniors' accomplishments. (Chancey Bush/The Gazette via AP)

In keeping with social distancing measures, and aiding our government in combating the Covid-19 crisis, many of us are celebrating Eid at home without family or friends for the first time in our lives.

The UAE government took significant measures to ensure the safety of everyone in the country but like other countries around the world, we still have some way to go before resuming a pre-pandemic “normal” routine.

Over the past few months, the pandemic disrupted economies and businesses, constrained social interaction and as a result also led to increased concerns about the mental well-being of people as a result of what the International Monetary Fund calls the Great Lockdown.

Yet amid all the doom and gloom there are some celebrations for small businesses. Celebrating small wins, whether on a professional or a personal level, is important now more than ever. It can help us become less anxious and maintain our mental well-being.

Research published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows people who incorporate a daily habit of practicing gratitude and some form of celebration, are less anxious and have overall better physical health.

When I looked back on the past three months, I noticed that in the middle of missing those dear to me and amid the uncertainty about the future, I achieved a number of goals that I didn’t stop to acknowledge or celebrate.

Prior to the pandemic, I broke down my ultimate goals into smaller mini-milestones and I always made time to celebrate achieving them. That helped me stay motivated, focused, and reminded me of the importance of my ultimate goals.

This Eid, with many of us stuck at home without family or friends, I urge you to take the time to reflect on your career or life and reviewing your achievements prior to the pandemic that you didn’t get a chance to celebrate, and do so now.

The moment for pause to celebrate can start with making it a habit to recognise small wins. Jotting down things, I am grateful about in my journal helped me personally. In some cultures, eating desserts are a popular way to mark celebrations. One can engage in everything from retail therapy to baking to mark a milestone - the idea is to do something that can help you mentally recognise this as a celebration.

Celebrating with others is also not something to overlook. We are fortunate to be living in an era where though our physical movements are restricted, we can connect virtually.

Schedule a video-call with your colleagues or friends. Reflect on the past, the challenges, on opportunities and the lessons learnt while also supporting one another by recognising each other’s accomplishments and the value of relationships.

Last but not least, try to maintain a positive outlook. Even though it’s hard and a human instinct to focus on the negative aspects during a crisis, dedicate this Eid to focus on the good things that happened to you lately and being grateful.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati journalist and entrepreneur, who manages her marketing and communications company in Abu Dhabi.