In her latest guest post, Positive Psychology teacher and wellbeing expert Anna Glynn talks about how we all have the chance to make the most of the disruptions COVID-19 created – by driving positive change.
Right now, there’s a unique opportunity in front of us to make the most of the COVID-19 disruption and to drive positive change, so our new reality is better than the ‘normal’ that came before.
With lockdown restrictions now easing across the country, we are entering the reintegration phase of this pandemic. Some refer to this as the ‘new normal’, yet we shouldn’t want things to go back to how they were pre-COVID. Right now, there’s a unique opportunity in front of us to make the most of this disruption and to drive positive change, so our new reality is better than the ‘normal’ that came before.
The past few months have taught us some important life lessons, which should help guide our decision-making around what we want to leave behind and what we wish to integrate into our lives going forward. Reflecting on your time in isolation and asking yourself the following questions as a start, will help you shape your new reality.
What will I be leaving behind?
For many of us, the pandemic caused us to slow down. What this has helped us realise is that the rapid pace we were used to operating at before is no longer sustainable. Before the coronavirus, we were somewhat obsessed with being ‘busy’, with always needing to do more, so much so that we even came up with the term ‘FOMO’ to express our concern when others were experiencing more in their lives than we were. Yet this preoccupation with constant activity only left us feeling exhausted, depleted, and in the worst cases burnt-out. Our new reality should be one where we ensure that our physical and mental health are on top of the priority lists. Where we put ourselves first over others and social activity, so that we don’t contribute further to our levels of stress and anxiety, which will help us thrive in the future.
What’s truly important to me?
When we were asked to physically distance ourselves from others, we knew this would give rise to feelings of loneliness and be detrimental to our mental health, given relationships are one of the most important factors to our wellbeing. We recognised this by continuing to engage with one another by embracing technology despite being apart. For many, the best outcome of isolation has been the quality time spent with partners and families. Our new reality should be one where we prioritise quality time with those we love most. Setting stricter boundaries between work and home, being more involved with your child’s learning, spending more time outdoors with one another and travelling less for work, are some of the ways that this can be achieved. Additionally, let’s not forget the care, compassion and empathy we showed to those most in need in our communities during lockdown, and the gratitude we expressed to our essential workers. In our new realities, let’s hope the importance of being of service to others is not forgotten, and we will continue to see a show of kindness (no matter how big or small) for those doing good or those less fortunate than us.
What’s my purpose?
To some of us, life has felt a bit purposeless during isolation. Additionally, what used to give your life meaning may have diminished over the past few months particularly if you are no longer working. But rather than viewing this pandemic as shrinking your life, it may in fact be a life-changing crisis, that could help expand and enrich your life by finding meaning. This period of uncertainty could be a catalyst for reflecting upon what makes our lives meaningful and what truly gives us a sense of purpose. Knowing your purpose can help you stay motivated and provide direction in your life despite any adversity being faced. Over the past few months, many have been encouraged to work out or rethink their purposes because of changing priorities and spending time where needed during this crisis. For some, the realisation of what gives them meaning may encourage a change in career paths or a seeking of more opportunities to live in line with their purpose going forward.
What do I need to manage stress and anxiety, and to take care of my wellbeing?
The last few months has spiked our stress and anxiety levels, which has taken a toll on our energy and our minds. Change and uncertainty will continue in the new reality, therefore we need to learn how to deal with these anxious feelings so we don’t burnout in the future. Looking after ourselves is not self-indulgent but rather it should be viewed as enabling yourself to be at your best when with those most important to you. We need to prioritise the time to look after our minds so we can recover from stress and reenergise ourselves for whatever comes next. Dedicating even just ten minutes a day to a mindfulness or breathing activity, spending time outside or committing to taking your annual leave each year will help you restore. By being mentally well, you’ll be able to better deal with future challenges and uncertainties, and more able to take control of your wellbeing.
If you were ever waiting for a burning platform to drive positive changes in your life, you’ve got it. There has never been a better time than now, to take advantage of the opportunity that currently presents itself to shape your reality so it’s your best one yet!