Each of us experienced COVID-19 in our own unique way. We have an opportunity to create our new normal which can reflect a healthy and balanced way of thinking about the multiple aspects of our lives.
Our increased numbers in vaccinations across America are allowing us to emerge from our homes. Many of us are eager to gather with close friends and family again. Restaurants are accommodating indoor dining. Sports teams are playing to real live fans in partial to full stadiums. Yet, there are many of us who do not feel ready to return to life as we knew it, pre-COVID-19.
There are the “before times,” and the “now times.” Things change daily and we each need to assess our own levels of comfort. Additionally, we cannot assume that others share our experience so part of moving forward likely includes a conversation about asking others what their comfort level is and accepting their response without judgement.
COVID-19 and isolating at home has given many of us time to reassess what we need and want in our lives. Within the grave difficulties and losses, there were some positive experiences. Learning from them and how we grew as a result of them offer a foundation to re-think our lives as we move forward. How can we find flexibility to accommodate what we discovered during COVID-19? If our pre-COVID-19 schedule was “frenetic,” and we found that unfulfilling, what are we able to do to adjust that schedule in a healthier way? How can we adjust our schedules to include and maintain appropriate time for family, friends, sleep, relaxation, creative pursuits, exercise, spiritual growth, work and design our days accordingly?
We have an opportunity to create our new normal which can reflect a healthy and balanced way of thinking about the multiple aspects of our lives. Each of us experienced COVID-19 in our own unique way. For many of us it was a period of prolonged stress and loss. Some, accurately, refer to the trauma of the time. And now, hopefully, if we give ourselves the time to reflect, we can process the trauma and the stress in positive ways to enter a period of post traumatic growth. As we do this, we must be gentle with ourselves and those in our lives. Everyone has had their own experience which will, in part, determine how they move forward. We can think deeply about our future, and in the process, consider what we want to keep, what we want more of, and what we can let go.
One of the most important COVID-19 Sanity Savers for me is a daily walk in a nearby park. Recently, I noticed an elderly woman either putting her bicycle on or taking it off the bike rack of her car. I approached her to tell her how inspiring she is to me. I mentioned that I recently bought a bike. Her eyes lit up and even though she was wearing a mask I could tell that she was smiling. She rather casually informed me that she is 88 years old and added a seal of approval for my purchase, commenting that that if I ride my bike often, I will surely live a long life.
I shared with her that my mother was extremely active too and lived to be almost 98. I felt it was a gift to have met this woman. I proceeded to take my walk, this time, thinking about these two, and many other women who age with an attitude of health, grace and style. I felt emboldened, surrounded by these amazing role models in my mind.
Each day, try to notice something or someone who inspires you and spend a few moments pondering how that awareness affects you in the moment and whether it’s cause for you to change anything in your life.
Keeping a journal can provide benefits at any stage of life. Recently I found my elementary school “diaries” and had a long-forgotten peek into my pre- adolescent self. Journaling helps us reflect upon our daily experiences, relationships, hopes, dreams, disappointments, and anxieties. A journal can become a trusted friend to receive our thoughts and emotions; it can become a safe space to express and examine our feelings.
Our journal is just for us. There is no right or wrong approach but sometimes, getting started can be a challenge. Staring at a blank page can be intimidating. Among other things, we need to keep our inner critic quiet and hopefully, move beyond keeping a log of daily events.
Journal prompts can be helpful catalysts. Prompts can help us to reflect on a theme or topic which can guide us to organize our thoughts and understand our emotional needs more clearly.
Consider these tips as you begin:
Find a quiet space to write. If you are in a noisy place, try listening to instrumental music or nature sounds.
Forget about getting things “perfect.” This is our journal, with our thoughts, in our private space. What matters is learning about ourselves through journaling.
Commit to writing regularly. Try 10 minutes a day, or every other day, or two times a week. Keeping up the practice is important. Devoting a particular time of the day or evening for writing helps to develop and strengthen journaling as a practice or habit.
The purpose of journaling is to explore the range of our emotions. Some emotions and experiences will be unpleasant. Examining and discharging that discomfort can help us resolve distressing experiences in our lives. It can also help us to determine whether further exploration with the guidance of a therapist is worth considering.