While the pandemic caused challenges for nearly everyone, it also provided many with the opportunity to slow down and to focus on the things they enjoy spending their valuable time on. With events cancelled, activities on hold and many work commutes significantly reduced, we were able to take the time for an afternoon walk, tackle the new project that we’ve put off or to finally take the time to self-reflect on what matters most to us. This extra time at home showed us just how little time we spent prioritizing ourselves, pre-COVID.
As we begin to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, social events, travel and after-school activities seem to be picking up again. Slowly but surely, it seems our lives are starting to inch back to “normal” with calendars filling up with professional and personal obligations. While this change of pace may be exciting, at the same time it can cause anxiety for many reasons, as we see the balance we achieved over the past year slipping away.
There is no doubt that it’s harder to manage the time you prioritize to focus on you, when there seems to be so many other obligations and events that pop up every day. But if the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that caring for yourself and your mental health should always be on our to-do list.
Here are four key actions to help you maintain balance in a post-COVID world:
Carve out time in your calendar to sit down and have coffee or tea with yourself. Take a journal along if you think it will help focus your thoughts. Use this time to consider what things bring you energy, make you feel fulfilled or bring you joy. On the flip side of that, consider the things that deplete you, whether they’re things you absolutely must do or things that you say “yes” to but don’t really want to do or even have to do.
2. Be intentional with your time.
Now that you have an idea of the things you want to do more of, the things you have to do to sustain yourself and the things you can let go of, map out a plan for how you’ll ensure you take the time to do the things that bring you energy. If it’s talking a walk outside every day or reading a book in the evenings, block it on your calendar and honor it. If it’s committing to being in bed early and waking up early, use an app on your phone to set up a sleep schedule and follow it. Whatever it is, commit to doing it and plan for how you’ll be able to successfully sustain it.
3. Say no to the things that interfere with the time you set to do the things you enjoy (within reason, of course).
This one may be one of the hardest to do. We don’t like to say no, especially if it’s to people we love and respect. It can feel uncomfortable or make us think that we are letting someone down. But by being transparent and prioritizing ourselves, we are able to show up as a better and stronger person in our jobs and in our personal relationships.
4. Ask for help if you need it.
At times, it is challenging to be vulnerable or to admit that we can’t tackle something on our own. However, it’s even harder and worse for us to continuously struggle when there are resources available to help us. When you continually overload yourself, you run the risk of burnout which can be damaging to your professional and personal life. While it can take courage to reach out, you’ll feel relieved when you have the assistance you need.
There is no doubt that we all want the pandemic to be behind us. However, it’s important to carry with us the lessons that the year taught us. Let’s take the positives with us and maintain the things that brought us joy so our new “normal” is even better for us.