Stressful times are not on anyone’s wish list, but they can teach us a lot about ourselves and how we handle challenges and loss and change, about what we value, and about what we may be hanging on to that we don’t need. Having my everyday way of life stripped away makes me look at things differently. How about you? It may feel like a stretch or make you feel a little resentful to call it an opportunity, but it is a space to take a fresh look at our lives and what you want going forward.
Most of us have been in this stay at home, so many things cancelled world for over a month now. We’ve suffered and grieved losses. We’re dealing with daily stressors. We’ve gotten out of routine—and maybe into new ones.
What have you learned about yourself so far? I encourage you to ask this question with compassion. Don’t berate yourself if you haven’t picked up a mediation practice or written that novel you’ve been wanting to write or cleared the stack of “to read” books from your bedside table. Don’t worry if you’ve been binge watching anything that comes across your screen or eating comfort food or stayed in your pajamas.
You don’t have to be living your best life right now to take something away from this situation.
Who Will You Be When This Is Over?
Take a look at what you’re loving and what you’re missing right now. Both of those have something to tell you about your values and what you want in your life.
My daily walks (though sometimes stressful if the trails are busy or bicyclists fly by too close) help keep me calm and give me energy. I value the time outside, whether by myself or with my husband or one of my kids. I value the beauty of nature and the feel of the sun on my face. I appreciate how moving outdoors helps me reflect without ruminating too much on what’s hard or not working.
My gratitude practice, honed over the years, is sustaining me. Finding the good every day, writing it down, sometimes even sharing it, helps me focus on the abundance in my life, the beauty and joy and kindness around me. (If you want to up your gratitude practice, you can get my free gratitude guide here.)
What do I miss? Connection is a big one for me. I miss seeing people. I miss running into friends while out on errands or meeting for lunch. I am grateful for the technology that lets me connect with friends and family right here in my neighborhood and across the country. I find myself seeking ways to connect more with my son and my parents 3,000 miles away and also with old friends that I might not have sought out if I was connecting with other people more regularly. There is value in this connection, and I want to explore and reflect on who I want to connect with and how, so I don’t lose anything when I return to “normal” life. How about you?
Journal on What Matters to You
What are you finding right now that is nourishing to body and soul? How are you taking care of you that feels loving right now when life is thrown into upheaval? What lights you up or energizes you? What fills you with peace or calm or contentment? Does any of this tell you something about what’s important that may take a different shape when the stay at home orders pass?
What we miss is really another view of what we love. What are you missing most right now? Another way to ask this question is what can’t you wait to do when things open up again? Journal about it. Put yourself into the experience you are missing. Use all your senses. Keep writing about it.
What is it that you really miss? Do you miss going out to dinner? Is it a food that you miss? The server who always takes good care of you and running into people you know? The conversation you have over dinner? The freedom from cooking? What does that tell you that can help you make choices going forward?
Take some time to think about what you want your life to look like when things open up again. What do you want to bring with you? What do you want to leave behind? What will you embrace again? Now is an excellent time to start thinking about these questions.
Find Clarity and Do Something About It
Finding what really matters, getting clarity about what you want (not what’s expected of you), and choosing to make more time for that in your life—along with ditching stuff that drains you—can be quite a process.
Interested in learning more about the power of your stories to create a life of resilience, connection, and meaning? Check out my Write Into Joy workshops to learn how to build resilience and joy through journaling & reflecting. Click here to see a list of upcoming workshops.