There is very little that any of us would say is positive about how the world has been turned upside down for all these months due to the pandemic. At the same time, I think it can be helpful to pause and consider the fact that for many of us time is being experienced differently.
First I want to acknowledge that there are many people who are under even more pressure to pack their days with enormous responsibilities: all the frontline people who are directly and indirectly providing services to those who have contracted the virus. There are all the parents struggling to manage work and the care of their young children. There are those whose full-time jobs have just continued with little or no change as a result of the pandemic.
There are however many of us who have discovered we can work almost as efficiently and in some cases even more effectively from home. This changes our lifestyle in many ways. We have been able to set up office areas that are relaxed and allow us to maintain a high level of privacy: we can wear whatever we want, we can shower less frequently, we don’t have to worry about our hair or makeup, and we actually can stay more focused because there are fewer interruptions.
Now that most of us have settled into a predictable lifestyle—I don’t think we wake up in the mornings wondering if today’s the day we will be able to go back to normal. We have become resigned to many changes that have occurred. This actually lowers our stress level because unpredictability is a common cause of stress.
Many of us are discovering we have much more time to be reflective, to have a change in the kinds of pressures we experienced back when we were in that very different routine of daily life. Many of us are discovering we can get our jobs done but we do so with much less pressure.
I’m not saying it’s all great but I think it is worth a few moments to pause and be thankful for how some of the changes that have taken place these last few months are potentially beneficial to our mental and physical health. I think a lot of us are realizing we don’t want to go back to life as it was once the pandemic is over. Our new experiences around how we now have learned to spend our time may mean we will embrace new norms that allow us the freedom of more relaxed workdays.
For many, this new norm is a time of much greater stress, anxiety and pressure. At the same time, I hope there are ways that all of us can embrace the changes to find new levels of peace and power. We can learn to be more in charge of how we spend our time now that we are less able to be out in the world being active, going places and doing things. Being forced to spend much more time in our homes may be a disguised gift we might want to take time to celebrate.
Invitation for Reflection
- To what extent and in what ways is life become less stressful for you now that you are settled in with the new norms the pandemic has created?
- What are some ways you can continue nurturing the freedom that comes with less pressure around having to be out in the world doing things?
- How might embracing the positive sides of the new norm enhance your mental and physical health?
Diane Wagenhals, Director, Lakeside Global Institute