When the Pandemic Ends…Then What?
Did you think that we would be still in the pandemic, one year later? I know I did not. In fact, I remember, sitting with my girlfriend last March, spaced 6 feet apart in my driveway as we remarked that if we had to do this for a couple of months, it would not be so bad. But here we are one year later, finally beginning to see that the end is in sight.
You might not know this about me, but my training is in Neuropsychology, so I am always looking at the way the brain processes our experiences and how we can use that insight to influence our emotions, thoughts, and actions as we move forward.
With that said, so much has happened over the last year that it would not be wise to resume life as though nothing has happened. Once we have experienced something that is as all-encompassing as this was, and in some respects still is, we cannot just rid our mind of the effect it has had on us. The interpretation our brain makes of the experience of this last year, determines how we react to it. We want to carry the positive forward but the negative also stays with us. So as much as we might like to wash this last year from our minds, moving forward, carrying the past becomes difficult. This is true because anything we leave unresolved will influence our emotions, the way we think and how we act going forward.
There has been a dramatic shift in every aspect of our lives from how we shop to how we work, play, and communicate with our friends and family. Many have lost loved ones and some their very livelihood. In essence everything has been affected by this virus, some which are positive and some that are not.
As we emerge from this last year it is important to reflect on what we personally and collectively lost, what was gained, and what was learned about yourself and the world? Many people have told me that they were surprised to learn just how resilient and creative they were, more than they ever imagined. I know for myself, perspective is what allowed me to see things from many different viewpoints. That alone allowed for a greater understanding of the both personal and global circumstances.
Taking time to reflect is essential as it gives us the ability to take an honest look at how we experienced this last year. What behaviors and attitudes do you personally want to keep? What do you want to let go of? Awareness is 80% of change because you cannot change what you are not aware of. I promise you that doing this will help you feel empowered to change thoughts and behaviors you no longer want or sustain the ones you do.
Once that step is done comes the Now What? This question is about how to move forward making what you want a priority over a period of time. Here are some ideas that can help you do that.
- Make it clear. To begin with, I would pick one thing that you want to change or continue. Make a simple statement the is simple, concise, and clear. Include what it will look like and what it will feel like in your life. The more clarity you have around what you want, the more able you are to get it. As I learned as a Boy Scout leader years ago, keep it simple, make it fun.
- Ask yourself what the motivation is behind what you want to implement going forward? Doing this in bullet point form helps to keep this simple and concise. This will be a reminder to you, why you are making this change.
- For me walking became a way to reduce stress but also exercise during the pandemic. I found that I enjoyed it but when the pandemic is over, I am afraid I will not be as motivated to do it, because I will be busy with the things I could not do before. So, my motivation is to remember how good it made me feel.
This becomes your path, but to make it happen you also need a plan. You will need action steps that are specific, measurable, attainable, and sustainable. The action step you choose needs to be clear and specific, you need to have a way of knowing if you did it and easy enough so it can be sustained over time.
Example: I will walk a certain number of steps each day. I will keep that attainable by have a low step count to begin, when I have met my goal for a week, I will raise the amount by 200 steps until I can do that consistently. Little by little I will get to my final goal of 12,000 steps.
The best gift of all is to help people move from where they are to where they want to be. I hope this will serve as inspiration for you to make the changes you desire.