2020 has been a challenging year for many of us (ok, let me rephrase that… ALL of us have felt the impact of this year) and though yes it is tempting to dream about fast-forwarding to 2021 in hopes that the chaos will calm, it is worth stopping to notice all the good that comes from tough times. It is easy to joke around about the fact that “a pandemic wasn’t on my vision board,” but all jokes aside, this is a season of life that has jarred many of us in powerful ways.
I am fully back in the swing of things as a coach now, leading in-person fitness classes, back with all my personal training clients and continuing to do some virtual coaching (as I did prior to the pandemic). My schedule has gone from quite flexible to quite busy in a matter of a couple weeks, which has triggered some reflection for me. When my schedule was a bit more flexible during quarantine, there were some really amazing things that became routine for me. These are things that I want to continue creating space for, even as the calendar gets busy again.
The reason I am sharing these things with you, rather than writing this in my personal journal, is to inspire you to pause and think about the things that quarantine has taught you. I’ve asked a number of clients and friends about their experience over these last few months, and everyone has called out specific things they’ve appreciated about this time. Just because stores are opening back up and we are heading back to the office, doesn’t mean we should throw all those amazing things out the window. I encourage you to reflect on the positives and think about ways to sustain them as life returns back to “normal” (not entirely sure what that means these days, but you get my point 😉 ).
Quarantine Taught Me to Slow Down
As an enneagram 3 who really stinks at slowing down, the older I get, the more I realize the importance of this. My best ideas come in the slow times. Some of my most meaningful moments happen in the stillness. And for myself, slowing down means creating space to talk to God and to listen – to better understand His plans for the world and the part I have to play in it.
In the age of technology, stillness is hard to come by unless you intentionally create space for it. From the pings and dings of notifications to keeping the TV on for background noise, it is uncommon to encounter completely still moments. Shoot, I can literally tell Siri from across the room to start playing music. The moment we feel uncomfortable in the stillness, it is incredibly easy to fill the void.
Whether it is simply shutting the music off in my car more often or taking a moment to pray multiple times a day, I am making sure to hold onto some of the peace and quiet that quarantine brought into my life.
It Reminded Me of How Good It Feels to Get 8 Hours of Sleep… Consistently
Getting eight hours of sleep one night is great, but getting a full night of sleep, multiple days in a row is the BEST! I have improved my quantity of sleep immensely since my college days, but nonetheless, I work in an industry with incredibly weird hours and if I’m not in bed by 9pm most nights I am likely getting less than 7-8 hours. I am now back to the wonky hours and fully embracing the sleep schedule of a toddler… going to bed realllllyyyy early.
The consistent, full nights of sleep I got when my schedule was much more relaxed reminded me why sleep matters so much! From better energy levels to more stable hunger cues and less cravings, a clearer head space and so much more, getting enough sleep should be a no-brainer, yet this is a huge challenge for many of us. If you were completely enjoying the fact that you had no work commute and way more time to sleep during quarantine, consider how you can shift your schedule to still get a good amount of sleep, even when you head back to working in the office.
It Centered Me Back to My “Why”
To reference back to point number one about slowing down, quiet time often allows for deep reflection on why we do what we do. As much as time may feel tight, there are a lot of hours in the day, but we have to be intentional with how we use them to truly feel fulfillment in our lives.
From the conversations I’ve had with others about quarantine life, this time has reminded many of us what we care most deeply about. It has been a moment of investigating priorities. If you feel that your shifted priorities were an improvement from pre-quarantine times, work to keep those priorities in alignment in the coming months. It will be so worth it!
If you don’t define your priorities, others will define them for you.
Whether it’s your boss, your spouse, a parent, your kids, your friends – anyone other than you has the power to shape and mold your life if you are not intentional with your energy.
How I Plan to Stay Fulfilled
So the moral of the story is this… now that I’ve reflected, I need to set a game plan. Awareness is powerful, but planning is even more powerful. Knowing that the three things above produce positive outcomes in my life, I can find ways to schedule constructive action to maintain them!
Slowing down brings me closer to God and deeper into my purpose, so I am going to make sure I allot at least 5-15 minutes in the morning to reading my bible and/or praying.
Getting enough sleep is vital for me to feel my best, so I am committing to go to bed early enough (no matter the time of my morning alarm, even if it’s 3am) to get 7 hours of sleep every night.
Reflecting on my “why” keeps me tracking in the right direction, so I am going to take some quiet time at least once a week to think about how my activities/work/volunteering that week are leading to my greater purpose.
What’s Next for You
I encourage you to take even just five minutes to write down three things that you were grateful for in these past few months. Next to each of those listed items, expand on how you can be consistent with them through the rest of the year and beyond!
Happy reflecting, my friends!