As more lockdown restrictions are being lifted, some of us may be tip toeing closer to what once was normality. Before doing so, it’s worth taking a moment and checking in.
What do you want from your post lockdown life?
Are there certain elements of your lifestyle that you would like to change?
Of course everyone has experienced lockdown in different ways, some are faced with extremely difficult situations to tackle, whilst others are faced with more time.
- Time to do the things that make us feel good.
- Time to pause and re-evaluate our lives, considering what is truly important to us as individuals.
- Time to reflect and rest.
Once we allow ourselves this time, we have the space to reconnect with our body and mind, listening to our daily needs and living intuitively with them, rather than continuing on autopilot no matter how tired/ stressed we are.
Once things get back to our own versions of ‘normal’, off course we will pick up the pace again, however before doing so it’s important to remember, you are in control of the choices you make.
Working to maintain some of the healthy habits potentially established during this time, or trying to remove those unwanted, could not only help us to feel well equipped to deal with what’s next, but support us toward a healthier, happier and more mindful future.
Think about some of those pre-lockdown day to day situations that would bring you stress; whether it be too many social events, long working hours or juggling an extra long to do list.
Lots of these stressful situations are created from busyness. So how do we move back into normality but become ‘un-busy?’
Prioritise! Think about what is urgent and what can wait. Feel content in the knowledge that everything cannot be done in one day.
Typical 21st century lifestyle has made boredom extinct. With so many things to juggle we put rest to the end of our to do list; a reward for getting all of our jobs done. But the truth is, there is no end, there will always be jobs to do. Once you can accept and sit comfortably with this, your body will gradually slow down, no longer living in high alert, but more able to switch off and more able to truly rest.
It’s easier said than done!
Although we know we feel better after a rest, it’s easy to slip back into old habits. But why?
We all want to be busy these days. Think about what you say when someone asks how you are…
‘I’m good thanks, just busy’.
And you are, life is busy, but does it always need to be?
We put pressure on ourselves to be busy; sometimes assuming it will make others value us more.
‘Busy = productive = important.’
We set high standards for ourselves, wanting to pack too much into our day which then becomes unmanageable, leaving us feeling guilty or like a failure if we can’t keep up.
- Will your productivity or busyness lead to your family or friends liking you more?
Being busy doesn’t make us more valuable, important or superior.
As a non-stop society, we almost judge people who aren’t busy:
‘What, you’re not working through your lunch break?’
‘You didn’t reply to the boss’ email at the weekend?’
Rest is associated with laziness or not working hard. We feel like we need to justify our rest time. Even socially – making saying no without a follow up excuse so hard.
We are constantly reachable. Years ago you’d say goodbye to a colleague when you leave work and see them again the next day. Now that colleague can reach you over text/ phone call, social media, via email, or on LinkedIn!!
Once someone has been in touch, the guilt creeps back in, making us feel like we need to reply straight away.
How will we ever be able to switch off if we are constantly accessible?
We are forever thinking about the next thing on our list, or when we do get a break, filling it with another job, emails or social media, therefore never being fully present to check in with ourselves or get some actual headspace to unwind and relax.
These opportunities to rest are so important as they allow us to become creative with our thoughts, come up with new ideas or just give us time to listen to our body and what it needs.
Work/social cross over
Life admin becomes work too.
Our social media feeds are constantly telling us to be doing something, or making it easy for us to compare ourselves to others, their lives and what they are doing, at times leaving us feeling inadequate if we are not doing the same.
Filling our rest time with the busyness of social media may be escapism, but is it truly rest?
Make it happen!
As the thought of a full diary looms, think about how you can make a change. Look at your daily/ weekly list and think about whether or not it is manageable. Of course certain weeks will be busier than others but by removing some old habits and establishing some new, you can take control of how you want post lockdown life to look for you.
Consider your ideal restful situations.
What are the barriers which prevent you from making these ideal situations, reality?
Most of which involve time.
Prescribe it/ book it in
Whether it’s yoga, meditation, a bath or reading a book, book it in.
Write your restful activity in your diary alongside when you intend on doing it – it will make you more likely to actually perform!
Make it a habit
The more you prioritise rest, the more you enjoy it, the more you feel the benefit!
Attach a restful activity to another habit to make it stick. E.g. a morning meditation whilst your coffee brews.
It’s one of the hardest things to do, however if you end up saying yes to every social event (some of which you don’t actually want to attend), you could end up feeling like you have even less time to prioritise yourself and the things that make you feel good (eg. rest).
Find a balance between attending those all important catch ups' that you know will make you feel good, but not feeling the pressure to do everything that is asked of you. Learn to be okay with saying no without an excuse.
Reclaim your lunch break
Going back to a busy office, it’s easy to slip back into old habits of working through your lunch.
You deserve a break in the middle of the working day – it will give your brain a chance to recharge its batteries ready for what the afternoon has in store. Consider how you spend your lunch break. How about putting your phone in your drawer and going for a 10 minute walk?
All of this is easier said than done. Sometimes we just have really busy spells in our lives that we cannot avoid.
When this is the case, think: Is it urgent? Is it important? Can it wait?
These 3 questions always help me when I feel like my ‘to do list’ is becoming overwhelming!
Ask for help
There is nothing shameful about asking for help! More often than not it’s actually the healthiest overall choice. Why take everything on yourself if you have someone around you that can help – pretty sure you’d do the same for them!
Regular rest will make us more productive.
We need to give ourselves the same advice as we would give a friend, a nudge to step away from the ‘to do list’, slow down and relax.
Rest isn’t a reward – it’s a necessity when working toward a healthy balanced lifestyle.
‘Everything works better if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.’