For the last year, the only thing we’ve talked about has been the Corona Virus Pandemic. The fear of catching the virus, losing loved ones and seeing the devastation caused has been exhausting. I don’t think there’s anyone who hasn’t been affected by the virus. Emotionally, mentally, spiritually and physically we have all been tested. But for me this has been a chance to reflect on every area of my life and think about how I will live when the world ‘opens up’ again. So I thought about the lessons I’ve learned. I’m sure I’ll think of some more but here’s my 10 lessons to start:
1. Health really is wealth
I know that I’ve often taken my health for granted. Being chained to my laptop and not getting out for fresh air at lunchtime. Or neglecting a regular sleep routine. Whether it’s the fear of catching Corona Virus or not having enough vitamin D to help my immune system, this has been a reminder for us all to make taking care of your health a priority.
2. Stop living life on auto-pilot
Living on auto-pilot or like a hamster on a wheel is something alot of us in the Western world know too well. We’ve often spent our days running to work or chained to our laptops and driven by deadlines. For me the Pandemic has shown the importance of not just letting my time disappear in a ‘haze’ of work deadlines and to-do lists. This means thinking more about how I use my time and making sure I don’t give my time and attention to anything or anyone who doesn’t deserve it.
3. Self-care is a discipline
I love seeing all those self-care pictures, you know women at spas or having their nails done. But during lockdown it became clear to me that you can either live in a self-care fantasy land or really do the deep, hard work needed to take care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. So I started thinking about my emotional triggers, eating and exercise habits and how often I pray. I also took some time to think about my thoughts – are they negative or positive ? Am I ruled by my emotions, especially on a tough day? I really came to realise that without real discipline my self-care will never happen.
4. It’s ok if things aren’t perfect
This goes for your body, your hair, your relationship status, career path or your house/flat. Corona Virus and the lockdowns did show me that no-one has a perfect life. The celebrities who seemed to be perfect developed grey hair and put on weight. What a reminder that we’re all human beings ! Seriously, seeing the loss of life and devastation caused by the virus was a reminder that being perfect isn’t the most important thing after all.
5. Peace of mind is worth more than gold
When I think about all the times I’ve spent rushing around and multi-tasking. Sometimes not stopping to really think about why I’m doing something. It’s at these times that my mind is at it’s most scattered. Jumping from one thing to another and not settling until tiredness sets in. At other times it’s worrying about things unnecessarily. Allowing the bills or thoughts of the future to rob me of my peace now. When you can put these worries into perspective, the peace that comes over you is truly priceless.
6. It’s ok if I can’t /don’t control things
When you’re a woman who works, runs her life and career, controlling everything seems to be the ‘norm’. But I think we’ve all learned form the Virus that there’s so much in life we cannot control. Not being able to accept this lack of control creates stress and anxiety. I found in the middle of the Pandemic that shifting my perspective to accept this lack of control has helped me to get through the toughest days.
7. It’s ok to be scared
It feels like loss, grief and mental health have been put at the top of the ‘agenda’ over the last year. Being able to acknowledge and speak openly about our feelings is refreshing. For me this goes along with being able to admit that Corona Virus was one of the most frightening things I have ever experienced. I’ve still been afraid of catching the virus even when using hand gel, social distancing and wearing a mask. This hasn’t made my fears go away but being able to be honest about being scared has helped.
8. Always remember to seek joy
Different things appeal to different people. Finding and holding onto that thing which makes you smile is so important and especially right now. Whether that’s your bubble bath, smell of coffee or hearing your children laugh – make as much time as possible to find and keep your joy. This leads me onto my next point….
9. Take comfort in small and simple things
While seeing so many people lose their lives to Corona Virus, I refocused on the simple and small things I have. Being able to breath easily, unlike a Covid-19 patient, and knowing I have access to food (while others go to foodbanks) made me grateful. It’s the small and simple things which reminded me to be grateful, while taking each day at a time during the lockdowns.
10. Be strategic with my time – not everyone or everything needs my attention
Who and what do I spend my time on? Why is my attention being used for these things? It’s been reported widely that people spent the last year putting things into perspective and thinking about what really mattered. I know that I also had to think about these questions. As I said above (“Stop living life on autopilot‘), while I can’t say I’ve worked everything out, just having the time and space to ask myself these questions has been so valuable.