A guest article from one of our Coaching Partners.
Whatever your current circumstances, right now could be the perfect time to think about the things you love to do, and work out how you can recharge your energy by building more moments of joy into your daily life – no matter what the coming months may bring.
Are your batteries fully charged, or in need of a boost?
Lockdown has had a profound impact on all of our lives, whatever our age or occupation. Regardless of whether you’re a student whose course work is now being taught remotely, an employee who has been instructed to work from home, or a retiree whose social life and connection with friends and family has had to move online, many of us now find ourselves sat in front of an electronic screen for long periods each day. And it’s not just our computers and phones whose batteries are running low.
In my work as a coach I am used to being home based, often connecting with clients remotely via Skype, Zoom or any one of the many online tools now available to us. But what’s new is spending all of my time in this way. Over the past few months I’ve not only been seeing all of my clients “virtually”, but also keeping in touch with my friends, connecting with my book club, doing a yoga class, ordering shopping, watching plays, competing in a “pub” quiz, reading books and a myriad other things all online.
This new, always online world can be exhausting, and it’s often hard to maintain a barrier between work and leisure. Changed working practices may provide greater flexibility, but they also blur boundaries and can result in us never truly switching off.
In my experience of talking to clients and friends over the past few months, the world seems divided between two groups of people: those who have been out of work (furloughed, made redundant, retired) and wish they weren’t, or are searching for some other productive, meaningful way to spend their time at present; and those who are in work, putting in tremendously long hours (either at home or on the front line), with the additional stresses of coping with Covid-19-related issues on top of their usual work pressures, and wishing they could have some respite.
You may be looking for ways to relieve the gloom cast by the pandemic, or want to create a better work-life balance for yourself. You may have been rethinking your career choices, or want to consider how you’d fill your time in retirement. In any of these scenarios I’d encourage you to invest some time reflecting on the things you like to do and what brings you joy, and how you can introduce more of this into your current circumstances – however challenging they may be.
What gives you a sense of satisfaction, purpose or fulfilment?
This is an exercise I often use with my coaching clients. It helps them consider what is important to them, what their values are, and what gives them a sense of satisfaction, purpose or fulfilment. You can complete it on your own, or maybe discuss it with a friend, reflect on your answers and decide what to do next.
To begin the exercise, start by creating a list of 15-20 things you like to do with your time. Then, looking at each activity in turn, consider these questions:
- How long is it since I last did this?
- Does it cost money or is it free?
- Is this something I do on my own or with someone else?
- Is it fast paced or slow paced?
- Is it mind or body related?
- Is it job related?
Now, as you sit and look at your list and your answers to these questions, consider what they are telling you about your current situation. Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with this? And, what changes could you make, no matter how small, that would move you towards a more, or even more, satisfied frame of mind?
Time to get creative and increase those feelings of satisfaction and sense of purpose
Do you love walking in the hills, but haven’t been hiking for months? Can you commit to put aside a day this month to get into the countryside, take a picnic and reconnect with nature?
Maybe you like to visit a health spa and treat yourself to a facial or body massage. So, it’s been a while and it’s still not possible at the moment, but can you allocate an hour or two just for you, hide yourself away in the bathroom, light candles, play some soothing music and put on a home face pack while soaking in a hot bubble bath, or give yourself a pedicure with a new nail polish to recreate some of that spa feeling?
If you like to travel and discover new places, your annual trip abroad may have been cancelled, but you might be amazed at what you didn’t know was on your doorstep. Put the same effort into researching what to do in your hometown as you would if you were visiting there for the first time and you could be surprised at what is available to you that you’ve never had the time to explore before.
Looking at your list, if most of your activities are job related, and you are not currently working or are planning not to work, how can you recreate the fun experiences or the joyful feelings you get after doing those work activities in ways that are not to do with your job?
If most of your chosen activities are done with other people, are fast paced and body related, what does this tell you about possible future career or life choices? Or, if you like to do activities alone, that are slow-paced or mind related, what in turn does that say? What hobbies might you consider, what volunteering, or what new work could you do that will provide similar experiences to those you listed and create the same feelings of satisfaction and enjoyment?
Looking after and being kind to ourselves is particularly important at the moment, especially as the strains of lockdown look set to continue, at least in part, for the foreseeable future. It’s tempting to just focus on all the things we are restricted from doing at present, but I’d love you to get creative and think, what can I do that I enjoy to get those endorphins flowing, even just a little?