As the world is transitioning slowly through this pandemic, we are asking ourselves ‘Where to from here?’. When will we feel normal again and what will this new normal look like? Are we taking something away from the experience of the past few months and is this new way of living going to serve us better as human beings?
Many of us had time to reflect and reassess, grow new ideas, focus on self-care, or simply utilised the opportunity to slow down and reconnect with themselves.
Being in this transition period is more than going back to work, slowly getting used to traffic, people and outdoor activities being part of our daily life again. Because we are still in this. This rearrangement of our daily routine, our values and priorities as a result of dramatic change in our lives, is not over yet. We can’t foresee the long-term consequences on our external environment (think economy, international travel), nor our internal processing and adjustment strategies.
We simply cannot predict what is going to happen in the short-term, let alone the distant future ahead. As humans we like routine and stability, we gain our sense of safety and control by being able to predict or assume dependencies and consequences. Currently this control and sense of safety is not maintained by our external circumstances. To cope and potentially even thrive during these times and avoid anxiety and overwhelm, we need to learn to focus on ourselves, the stability we can create in our immediate environment and ways to deal with feelings of anxiety.
As we are all facing change and uncertainty in one way or another and to different extend, we need to be gentle with ourselves and put additional measures of self-care in place to make this transition easier on ourselves.
Make some time for yourself every day to connect with yourself and acknowledge your feelings. Self-awareness is like a muscle that, with regular training, will improve and serve you better in noticing what keeps your mind occupied and what measures of self-care you need to put in place as a result. To begin with, take at least 10 minutes daily to:
Pause and feel your breath to center yourself and naturally calm your mind. You can simply focus on the place in your body where you feel your breath most prominent (e.g. nose, chest, throat), or count every out-breath up to 10, then starting from 1 again.
Reflect on what is going on for you at the moment: Busyness, preparing for a 'new normal' which we don't know what it looks or feels like yet, but also excitement, inspiration and new ideas. The excitement of new beginnings can be just as stressful for our mind. Therefore, it is important we check in with ourselves and take note of the main things that are happening for us right now.
Reframe your story. What are you taking from this experience? How can you use these new beginnings to live more intentionally? Focus on the bigger picture.
If you do feel overwhelm, then simply try to stay in the present and think of all the things to be grateful for in your life right in this moment. A gratitude journal works really well to make you feel present and grounded.
What you can do to support yourself during times of change:
Set aside time for meditation and mindfulness daily. Just 10 minutes can make a big difference. You can use the free Insight Timer app to help you set a positive tone for the day.
Enjoy mealtimes with your family at least once per day and recharge your energy with your loved ones. As we are social animals, social connection and support is crucial during times of stress.
Remind yourself of what you have learnt to appreciate over the last few weeks. Why not treat yourself to a beautiful new gratitude journal and take 5 minutes to complete every night.
Go out and get some sun and fresh air every day. The connection with nature will help you stay grounded.
In your workplace:
Take frequent small breaks. Set an alarm on your phone and move around for 5 minutes every hour to minimise stress levels and increase productivity.
Don't try and push through. If you notice yourself losing focus, take a short break or move on to the next task and the current task for later. Seek help from your team; it can make a big difference just to talk something through with a colleague. Draw from the people around you and support each other.
Keep moving. A 15-minute walk in your lunch break can clear your head and make you feel refreshed.
Enjoy social interactions while practising social distancing. Nothing beats a quick hello and catch up in person
Have a smooth-as-can-be time of transition!
What do you do to create a moment of pause in your life?