At the beginning of quarantine our “new normal” looked alot like staying at home, falling asleep on Zoom meetings, and being constantly torn between loving all of the family time and going crazy because of it.
After over a year of adjusting to a slower paced life we are being thrown back into the flames of nonstop go-go-go.
It seems that after we finally adjusted to a slower paced lifestyle, in the blink of an eye, the majority of people are having to create a “new normal” all over again. Which, when you think about it, we really are just adjusting back to where we were in the first place.
However, that doesn’t mean we have to go back to exactly how things we were before the pandemic began. We can take our new knowledge and transform our way of life.
“Knowledge without action is pointless.” Abu Bakr
Many of us have learned some pretty important lessons during quarantine. Some of which include:
How to focus on the little things
How to stay kind and remember our humanity
How to spend your time in a way that you actually want to
How to embrace change and be flexible
Remembering what makes life so beautiful is the people we share it with
However, even though we have this newfound knowledge it’s still easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of daily life: work, kids, school, more work, lunches, meetings, cooking, soccer, dance, football, gym, date night…
Our to do list is becoming endless again, and diving head first into the chaos of life is bringing levels of stress that many people haven’t felt in a long time. Not to mention, the knowledge that we gained during quarantine is slowly slipping away.
It’s as if we’ve switched from finding fulfillment in the peace of daily living to finding our fulfillment in our never ending task list.
I’m not trying to imply that being productive is bad, but there comes a point (as we all know) that you start to reject your own well-being for the sake of your job, your routine, and others in general.
So how can you balance the lessons from quarantine with your new daily “normal?” How can you reassess your priorities so that you have a balance between your productivity and your well-being?
Slowly get back into the groove:
Maybe pre-Covid the kids were involved in every type of afterschool activity, you were taking on extra projects at work, and you’d always volunteer your time in ways that didn’t leave much time for yourself.
You may genuinely enjoy doing all of those things and you want to continue doing them, however the thought of being busy from 8 am to 7 pm doesn’t appeal to you like it used to.
It’s important for you to know that you don’t have to tackle all of those things at once. People may be counting on you, but prioritizing yourself doesn’t mean that you’re hurting others.
Start by adding just a few things back onto your plate at a time. Maybe having the kids only play soccer this season rather than soccer, debate, and football. Or deciding that you’re going to talk to your boss about giving you less overtime, or even volunteering less to bring the food to events/family get-togethers.
It doesn’t mean you’re giving up what you enjoy completely, it’s just taking a slower route than you were before.
2. Just say no
The last point referenced individuals who had a lot of things on their plate pre-Covid, but they enjoyed it that way. This point is referencing people that had a lot on their plate pre-Covid and realized that they actually really hated it that way.
Quarantine may have shown you that you actually hate being a volunteer band parent, you do not enjoy going to drinks after work with your coworkers, or maybe you really don’t care to bring those gluten-free/peanut-free/nut-free/yummy-free baked goods to fundraising events anymore.
And you know what? That is OKAY.
During quarantine you learned different ways to enjoy your time and you realigned your focus back onto the things that matter.
Now that we are having to embrace our old lives again this is the time when applying that knowledge can be pivotal to our life’s projection over the next year.
You don’t need to feel guilty for saying no, in fact you should feel liberated by it. Disappointing other people means that you're finally prioritizing your time and THAT is a reason to celebrate.
3. Linger in the pleasant moments, even if it’s just for a short while
Slowing down during quarantine helped us to stop and smell the roses more. We were reminded of the importance of taking things slow and embracing the smaller things in life.
Now that things are speeding up again we are going to have to be more intentional about continuing to linger in those small, pleasant moments.
You may not have time to sit on the porch and read for hours anymore, but you can step outside and appreciate the fresh air for a moment.
Going on walks during lunch hour with the kids may not be ideal anymore, but you can plan an afternoon once a week to take a short walk (without phones) to slow down the daily crazy.
Everyone’s situation and experience during quarantine was different, but I encourage you to remember the parts of quarantine that you did enjoy and try to implement them back into your life in some way.
Whether it’s gradually entering back into the crazy, saying no to activities that you use to dread, or blocking out extra self-care time, try to remember the lessons you learned from quarantine.
Don’t allow your new knowledge to be pointless.