How to Avoid Going Back to Pre-Pandemic Busyness

I’ve waited for this moment for over a year!  The moment when it is announced that the world is about to re-open.  When I will be able to shop in my favourite stores and eat in my favourite restaurants… INSIDE the restaurant at that!  This is definitely cause for celebration.  From malls and movie theatres to concerts and campsites, it’s all very exciting. So why do I feel this impending sense of doom?  As much as I had been looking forward to the freedom of being able to see my friends and family again, when my calendar started to fill up with plans for brunches and backyard get-togethers, I started to feel anxious.  When I took the time to reflect, I realized that this anxiety was a combination of two things: one, a concern for safety, which makes total sense after being in lockdown for so long; and two, I was anxious about going back to the level of busy that had been my norm pre-pandemic.  And this was a level of busy that I was not looking forward to becoming reacquainted with.

The second reason surprised me. I have always considered myself a busy person.  I am definitely the go-go-go type.  I almost always have something to do as someone who works full time, is a wife and mother, and runs my own business. But when the pandemic hit, I relished in the slower pace of life.  I was able to start taking daily walks, meditate each morning, and consistently get eight hours of sleep.  I prioritized my mental and physical health in ways that I never had before and it was glorious.  But now as the world was about to re-open, I wondered if I would be able to continue to do those things that I had grown to love so much. Or would the busyness take over and consume my life? 

I spoke to a few friends and learned that I was not alone in having this concern.  And I saw a quote from a University of San Diego student named Lily Yates which summed up my feelings exactly: 

“I think people’s increased willingness to intentionally care more for their mental health during the pandemic reveals the problem of just how taboo it is during ‘normal’ times. We shouldn’t need to cite a global pandemic to take extra time for ourselves and set necessary boundaries at work and school. The idea that everyone is ‘okay’ at all times — and that we should pretend we are if we’re not — has been shattered, and it should stay that way.”

One of my good friends put it in perspective for me as well when she said, “Make sure you’re busy out of necessity and not out of habit.”  This really resonated with me because I could certainly see how I previously had lived a life of habitual busyness.  I decided right then and there that, no matter how busy I got, I would protect my time for the things that help me thrive. 

Here’s the list of daily activities that I came up with:

  1. I will continue to go for daily walks.  Getting direct sunlight first thing in the morning improves my mood during the day and my sleep during the night!
  2. On the topic of sleep, I will commit to getting seven or eight hours of sleep every night as this boosts my physical and mental energy.
  3. I will continue to eat healthy with balanced snacks and meals, and drink lots of water.
  4. I will continue to meditate and journal daily as I’ve seen first-hand how positively they both impact my mindset and mood. 

In order to continue to do all of these things, I must prioritize my time and ensure I leave enough space in my calendar to fit everything in, plus schedule some downtime and not let my calendar get too packed.  While this is easier said than done, I have to try because I’ve learned that I operate best when I put on my oxygen mask first.

As we return to pre-pandemic life, it’s natural that anxiety levels may increase.  A lot of us may be feeling uneasy about going back to in-person interactions and doing a lot of the things we did before the whole world shut down. It can be stressful, but it’s important to do what feels best for you and your family as well as continuing to practice recommended safety guidelines such as face coverings and social distancing.  The Government of Canada has a great list of tips and considerations for people going out for personal and social activities.

Wherever you are on your post-pandemic lockdown journey, I wish you the smoothest possible transition and a level of busyness that’s desirable and, most importantly, manageable.  That’s my goal for sure!

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Photo by Covene on Unsplash