How the pandemic can rewire our habits

By Claudia Merrill

There’s a common saying among writers that if you wait for the perfect time to write, then you’ll be waiting for the rest of your life. Recently, I saw a new variation of this quote emerging ─ something along the lines of; if you’ve always wanted to find a time to write, then now is your chance!

This pandemic has been incredibly hard on everyone, and some more than others. It’s been like a dark cloud has fallen over our world, with many of us struggling to navigate its tides. I don’t want to make light of it at all, but at the same time, you can always look for the silver lining.

Rewiring our habits might be our best opportunity at a better life

The current situation can actually be the perfect training ground for us to rewire our habits. Like I said above, many writers are finding now they actually have the time and space to finish many writing projects that had been placed on the backburner. Even if you’re not a writer, it’s still the perfect opportunity if you find yourself in a situation with not much else to do.

This quote by Marcus Aurelius, a prominent figure of Stoicism, encapsulates this perfectly: “If I’m worried about something happening in the future, I remind myself that IF it arrives, I will have the tools to deal with it then. But until that happens, I accomplish nothing by worrying about it.” We can all start today on something and leave the worries at the door.

Procrastination can finally end

Often when we’re busy, we get the luxury of procrastinating certain tasks. Our reasoning is that we never get any downtime, so we can’t possibly complete this task. Well, now we have all the downtime we need. We’ve run out of excuses, and now the task is staring us in the face.

I’ve found personally I’m becoming much more “on it” when it comes to certain tasks. I’m finding myself getting through my to-do list with relative ease, and even if I am stressed out, it’s easier to stop and relax for an hour or so before getting back to it. During this time of crisis, there seems to be more leniency which means I actually want to get tasks done? Must be reverse psychology at play.

Look at all the things you wished you had time for. Maybe it was to learn a language, play an instrument, complete a personal project  ─ anything that you never had the time to do before. Now get started on that list and see how quickly you get them done. 

Productivity rises with time

As we procrastinate less, we naturally will find ourselves becoming more productive. It’s not a strain anymore, it just seems to flow. Since we have not much else to do, we can dust off our to-do list and see what other plans or goals we had.

Now is the perfect time to stay focused on what goals matter to you. It’s the best opportunity to finish projects and start new ones. What I find really useful is imagining the person I want to become, and then working backwards and thinking about what I need to achieve to become this. Perhaps it’s learning a new language, so I make a reminder to work towards that every day, little by little. Of course self-improvement is not an indicator of self-worth. Your worth isn’t tied to your productivity but if you do want to achieve milestones in life, you have to put in the work. 

I think as this pandemic wears on we will be reminded that the smallest daily things do add up. We don’t need to “hustle” to achieve something great.

The voice within becomes louder

Our inner dialogue is what makes us our own best friend, or our own source of poor company. For the first time in maybe our whole lives, we are being forced to sit with our own inner dialogue. Netflix and cooking will only drown it out for so long. Being isolated from others and from external stimulus, we are essentially getting our own private yoga retreat.

Sitting with this inner dialogue can be incredibly healing for us. Instead of trying to drown out the voice within, see what it can teach you. Journalling, meditating and finding time to reflect each day can help us better monitor our thoughts, heal from past trauma and direct our focus to what better serves us.

I used to only hear this voice during an intense yoga session or a retreat, but now I hear my inner voice loudly on a daily basis. Through journaling and observing my thoughts, I’ve actually been able to find my values, what I want from life, and also my fears. Awareness is power. Through acknowledging your own dialogue, you can make this pandemic the most self-aware season of your life.

We can learn to give ourselves grace

Grace is the act of being compassionate and kind to ourselves. Mostly in life we become too busy with the next task, so giving ourselves grace falls to the wayside. To me, grace is a verb. We have to find ways to pardon ourselves and be gentle with ourselves during this pandemic.

I’d like to say that although we have all the time in the world to be productive, we don’t have to be. I’ll say it again, your worth is not measured by your productivity. Your worth is innate. It is your birthright. The more we can approach each day like this, the more motivated we will be but also, the less pressure we will place on ourselves.

This comes in the form of making downtime for ourselves without feeling guilty. The amount of friends that have said to me this quarantine has been liberating for them because they don’t feel like they have to do anything is phenomenal. For once, FOMO doesn’t exist!

Perhaps during this time we can even find new ways of self care like washing our face, reading a book at a leisurely pace, and even looking out the window.

To me, this process of the pandemic has been liberating to say the least. I felt like before life just kept moving faster, until Mother Earth made us stop, pause and consider our actions. Maybe world leaders will find a new way forward with climate change, maybe we will impulse buy less. One thing is for sure, this time is changing the way we think and act, and I think that’s for the better. 

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