LESSONS FROM LOCKDOWN
It feels like the past few months have gone by in the blink of an eye. Maybe it's because I've been so lucky to keep my job in the midst of the global health crisis and so maintained somewhat of a routine, or maybe it's because time is genuinely whizzing by faster than ever before not helped by the fact that I rarely have time to stop, breathe and take in the moment.
I'm trying really hard though, the slower pace of the past few months opening up my eyes to just how deep into autopilot mode I was engaged. I had a pretty solid routine going - one that was definitely not serving me or my soul in the way that it should have.
Like many of us, I'm guessing, I was on the verge of burnout, years of running around trying to tick a zillion things off my life 'to do' list quickly catching up on me. The funny thing is, I wasn't even aware of it until the world quite literally forced me to take a step back and reassess and realise that in the midst of it all, lockdown was some sort of bizarre gift.
Slowing down wasn't easy, mind. Like the rest of us, I had itchy feet and I did find it hard at times to get my head around everything that was happening. The headlines, for one, were terrifying and I should know because I wrote some of them along the way! We were quite literally living through history with no idea how things would pan out and when life would get back to "normal." I mean, in hindsight, it would be bizarre if I wasn't overwhelmed.
But slowly, slowly, I began to relish the days where there was no place in particular to be other than where I already was. I began to embrace the long evenings, early mornings, all these new extra hours afforded to me by cutting out the daily commute.
Morning walks, evening walks, lunchtime walks - there were a lot of walks - it's mind-boggling to think that in the few years I have lived in my area, I didn't once go out to explore the locality on foot! It's a cliché but I simply 'didn't have the time,' or at least that's what I told myself. All that exploring lead to experiencing the most breath-taking sunsets, the chance to hear the birds sing, the opportunity to meet the neighbours and stumble across some truly beautiful nature along the way.
I've had time to work out too, not that my fitness levels have improved! But I've enjoyed more cycles, runs and beach walks these past five months than I've squeezed in in years! Yoga has been a new-found love too, I've even started to meditate. No fancy apps for me, I just did a YouTube search and stumbled across The Honest Guys which worked a treat. There's a beauty in being still and present in the moment, something I somewhat turned my nose up at before. I guess I just didn't "get it" or maybe I felt I didn't need it; how wrong was I? It's amazing what you hear when you step back and actually listen to your thoughts (because lets be honest, meditation isn't about 'silence' it's about being present and aware or at least that's my understanding).
Another blessing has been the opportunity to put my feet up and get stuck into reading again. I purchased a Kindle on a whim just before lockdown and it's proven to be the best €80 (ish) I've ever spent. I've always considered myself an avid reader but truth be told, I'd read probably one book in full pre-lockdown. Again... "no time," I told myself. I realise now that perhaps I was managing my days all wrong, putting energy into things that weren't serving me while trying to keep a dozen plates spinning at one time. I read a substantial number books these past few months and I've enjoyed (almost) every single page - I'll write a separate blog post to tell you about my favourite ones as there have been some true gems!
The best thing though, has been reconnecting with friends and family and learning to truly cherish the time we have in each other's company when we get together. When your mind is a busy place it can be hard to focus on the moment but when some of the noise is taken away, it's amazing how much of a better listener/companion you become.
I've always been a bit of an introvert. I'm very social too but in a job that's people led, I often found myself wanting quiet time by the time evening rolled in. That meant often passing on social events and feeling guilty/having FOMO for it or even worse - agreeing to go and feeling exhausted beyond belief by the time my head hit the pillow at night.
I'd like to think I've found a better way now, even if it might mean being a little more selfish sometimes. It's true what they say, you can't serve from an empty vessel and you have to listen to your body - you've only got the one!
Let's hope the past few months are well and truly behind us and that we can slowly but surely move on. One thing I'm hoping, though, is that we'll all stick to our new found passions and self-care routines and remember what really matters at the end of the day.
p.s One of my favourite things about my new found 'time,' was spending days doing nothing at all. PJ's on, curtains drawn, Netflix primed and ready to go. Sure, the guilt creeped in during those moment because after all, shouldn't I be doing something useful with my time? But one thing I've learned is that if it's good for you soul, you're winning and if that means a day of Real Housewives with a tub of ice cream, so be it!