As countries round the world are hammering down their curves and governments are trying to breathe life into the economy, some restrictions are – slowly but surely – being eased. Everyone is wondering when life will go back to normal, or what the new normal will even look like. It feels good to get a haircut, go see your RMT, and see your friends and family again, even if only at a 2m distance. I certainly enjoyed recently going back to work and supporting my clients again. There is a lot to look forward to as we go through the proposed gradual phases of opening doors.
But before we all jump in and try to resume life as usual, I wonder if we can take a moment to think about how to move forward and re-evaluate our lives. Do we want to go back to exactly how things were before? Could we return to some ways of life and keep some of the new ways we’ve learned?
This pandemic has forced us into some different modes of living, and when we are not in control of our own decisions it never feels great at first. We feel anxious, restricted, resentful, and mourn the loss of the way things were. As I moved through these emotions, I also noticed that there were silver linings. The more I focused on those the more I actually became grateful, and when I began to notice the benefits I started to question if in fact how I was living before was right for me. Is it right for you?
It’s human nature to focus on things that are painful, negative, or that we are missing or left wanting for, but in doing so we often don’t notice or take stock in what is working. Here is a snapshot of what ended up working for me.
The restrictions forced me into having more time. I have always had a funny relationship with time - always feeling like there is never enough of it – and frequently running against it with my never-ending task & appointments list - both figuratively and literally. But when finally given the gift of time I noticed that I took more enjoyment in it, not only in the work I did, but in everything! I was sleeping better, having a better morning routine, exercising more, cooking more and having more quality conversations with loved ones.
During the pandemic lockdown I was also unable to work, so I was being consciously careful with money. However, even if I had not been careful, there wasn’t a whole lot of places where I could have spent my money. Guess what happened? Nothing. I didn’t miss anything I was spending money on before…I didn’t even notice. What were all these things I had gotten into the habit of buying before, and was it just because I could? Was I caught up in a consumer way of living without even realizing?
We were encouraged to go out less, and that forced me to think ahead a little. What a great idea, this thinking ahead!! I was buying what I needed for much longer periods, which not only saved me more time but also money on gas. Because I was thinking ahead more, I was also meal prepping more effectively which led to guess what… yes: more time and more money!
I am a health coach and I encourage home-cooking because it is better for you. I was guilty though of not following this advice as much as I should have – we’re all human. Given the extra time and planning I was able to cook more from home. I realized I was enjoying it more than before, when I’d often be in a rush, cooking frequently but ineffectively. I got the push and space I needed to make home meal planning and cooking a real habit again.
Many of us had to learn to adapt to exercising at home. Initially I struggled with this one, as I always insisted I work out better with leaders and in a group setting. However, I did learn to work out at home and even if I wasn’t pushing myself as hard, I was still getting workouts as consistently as before. I am going to sound like a broken record here but you know what I also saved on again, yes, you got it, time and money. On line classes are cheaper and I didn’t have to pay for parking and saved on time driving to the classes. I also started taking dance classes that I was intimidated to do in front of others. On top of my exercises I am stretching regularly because of the extra time I am saving from not having to drive and park.
Especially at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic I felt this outpour of connection and love. Friends and family were reaching out and I was too. I felt everyone’s care and concern for my well-being and I was putting that out there too. Even though there were times where I felt uncertain or down, I also felt loved and supported.
In between those connections I had time to myself. It turns out I quite like my own company. This time to myself has led me to feel calmer. It has allowed me more time in nature. I used some of this time for personal growth. Some of this time I use to read more. When I have time to myself, I notice I have more of my best self to give to others.
One of my top joys in life is to travel. I truly feel alive in the adventure of it all. COVID-19 really put a damper on all of our travel plans for year. I am not a homebody and there is only so much time I can spend indoors, but now I started to go outside more, in a safe way. I am finding new beauty and treasures in my own back yard if you will. I have been exploring places that are were right under my nose that were totally unknown to me. It is very typical but often people take the time to explore somewhere far and exotic without knowing what is in their own neighborhood and I am lucky and privileged to live in an incredibly beautiful place. I am sure to some people where I live is exotic. The more I think about it the more I am excited to stay local and explore what is around me. This will also save me time, money and be better for the environment. I’m not going to stop traveling for ever, but for now I am inspired to see more of what the places around me have to offer.
This has got me thinking how can I keep some of this precious time, money, connections and love.
COVID-10 forced me off the hamster wheel, if you will, and allowed me to live in a different way, so that I’m not going to be rushing back into the rat race. It has made me realize that I don’t need to spend all my energy and money in the places I was. This will mean I am going to have to work less – with the result of less income – but in this case, I think less is going to be more.
The things I am keeping from this experience:
-morning routine of meditation and yoga
-going to the grocery store less
-giving out more love and support
-time to myself
-some home workouts
-feeling content to explore close to home
Before you rush to get back into all the things just because you can, I encourage you to ask yourself this: has anything about this experience been enriching? Did you learn something that you want to keep doing? Can you spend your time differently? Can you spend your money differently? Can you care and love differently? Maybe you are 100% ok with the way life was pre COVID-19 and in that case you know you were doing all the right things to bring you balance and happiness…hats off to you! I think for most of us though, there is probably something valuable that we have all learned here. Let’s not waste this experience and let’s grow from it!