The start of the global pandemic meant the end of a chapter in our lives – one where we felt a level of certainty towards the future and our life plans – and felt in control. Without knowing what lay ahead, we were forced to lock ourselves away and to learn to live life differently.
Now, as we face increasingly easing restrictions, the question of control rears its head once more.
Were we really in control of our lives pre-pandemic, or were we just following a pattern we thought was ‘right’?
Are you happy to return to your former life?
Or does your life need tweaking – maybe even completely reinventing?
Our team of therapists have been having these sorts of discussions a lot recently; helping our clients learn to avoid people-pleasing, to practice assertion and connect – or re-connect with their inner selves.
So, were you truly leading the life you wanted before?
Did you have a good balance between work, family commitments and leisure?
Now, starting to look forward..
What do you believe matters most in life?
What makes your existence meaningful?
Ultimately, we are discussing identity.
What is it that make you, ‘you,’ and makes your life purposeful and enjoyable?
Would you now like to see your friends more often, to devote time to volunteering, to learning new skills or aiming for sporting achievement?
Do you want to focus on your career, reconnect with yourself or improve your relationships with those around you?
Here are some tips to help you reconnect with your identity and find the lifestyle that works for you:
1. Connect with your inner self
If the pandemic and lockdowns have taught us anything, it's that our inner self is our only constant companion. We can’t always be surrounded by others.
So, take this opportunity to form a better relationship with yourself.
Perhaps take a weekly walk, discover interesting podcasts, enjoy face-to-face conversations, go jogging, read books, try yoga or meditation.
Learn to take note of your thoughts.
What makes you happy?
When do you feel truly at peace?
If your answers are ‘nothing’ and ‘never,’ explore new things until something work.
Let's call this your 'Research Phase'. Keep researching what works for you until you find some answers.
2. Ask yourself the big questions
A busy life can easily distract us from asking ourselves important questions and analysing our answers.
To connect with what really matters to you, try this simple exercise:
Sit comfortably in a chair, feet flat on the floor with your hands gently resting upon each other.
Take three slow, deep breaths.
Imagine you’ve just celebrated your 80th birthday.
You’re looking back over your life and telling those around you what you’ve achieved.
What is it you want to say?
Think carefully and really try to connect with this version of you.
Take some notes.
Take three more slow, deep breaths.
And reflect. Are you on track to achieve your goals?
If not, what needs changing?
3. Take care of yourself
For many of us, the pandemic caught us off guard as we juggled life’s routines and commitments. Furthermore, the concept of working from home complicated the whole dynamic of a work-life balance.
It is now more important than ever to consciously make time for yourself and take care of your physical health.
Eating a well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet is not only important for day-to-day energy, but also maintains health over time.
Our bodies also need physical exercise.
Our self-confidence increases when we take care of our bodies. Our ability to cope with colds and flu, and to recover from injury improves. Exercise helps us feel better about ourselves and achieve a more positive outlook – vital when examining our life progress and potential happiness.
Most healthy adults also need between seven and nine hours of good quality sleep each night. Examine your evening routine and ensure you’re giving yourself the best chance of sleeping well –
Is your bedroom clean and tidy?
Do you turn off screens at least an hour before bedtime?
Is your room cool?
If your mind struggles to de-clutter, jot down thoughts on a bedside notepad. The physical process of recording them can both free your mind and provide a morning ‘to do’ list if needed.
4. Give yourself a break
Interrogating your life can be exhausting. You’re examining life’s biggest questions – what gives us satisfaction, meaning and purpose. Expect to feel overwhelmed.
It takes time to understand yourself and make meaningful change.
Be patient and show yourself real compassion while you figure things out.
If you can’t find the answers yourself, consider exploring your thoughts with a therapist.
As restrictions ease, leave lockdown at a manageable pace.
Don’t return to your pre-pandemic life if it’s not for you.
If you need to talk, we’re here to help.