As we live through this time of crisis it will affect people in many different ways. Some will thrive and embrace a time of reflection, while others will struggle in isolation, desperate to be outside or travelling again.
But one certain thing is that have all been given time to slow down. For some it will be through spending more time at home, focusing on the jobs we never had time to do. For others, it’s a chance to share moments with family. And for others, it’s an opportunity to feel at ease with our own company. There will be bad days, but that’s nothing to be afraid of. British life coach Maria Tansey has been working with her clients through this period, many of whose priorities have drastically changed since COVID-19 came into play. Here she shares with us some of the ways to get through the down days and which this time is a moment of opportunity for many of us.
How do you think this period of “lockdown” is something that many of us needed?
There has probably never been a time in our lives where we were all given ‘downtime’ like this, removing many pressures of our daily routine, and for the first time, allowing us to take a step back from routine to review what we were doing and press PAUSE on our lives. Pressures from our daily routine might not even be felt or noticed until we step away and have the opportunity to wind down. Of course, this situation doesn’t represent ‘downtime’ for everyone, and for many, their schedule could have increased, particularly those who might be homeschooling and working from home. But the challenges might be different now.
As we start to adapt to the changes that are happening, what advice would you give to those who are wary of getting back to “normal life”?
‘Normal routine’ might sound attractive right now, although I do think this period will have given many people a chance to reflect on how they were spending their time, who they were spending their time with and a chance to consider whether they want to make changes to their ‘old normal routine’ before they resume ‘normal life’ again. Now is a great time to implement any changes that you want to make.
As a life coach, what is your new normal?
I have been working with my clients on Zoom from home, so my new normal has given me a bigger window for exercise – which I didn’t always manage to do before. On a personal level, I have been focusing even more on my eating habits, because during the downtime between each client I am at home and able to prepare all my meals – with no excuses to order take out or eat chocolate and snacks! I adjusted my working hours to suit many of my clients so I have been working with clients late into the evening meaning my sleeping pattern has been a little crazy!
Out of every crisis, there is always a positive – what are some positive things that can come out of this situation?
There are so many positives that can come out of this situation! Learning to have a greater appreciation for things and people that we normally take for granted is one of the biggest positives. I believe most families and friends that are quarantined together will come out with even stronger bonds and most likely newfound respect for what others are dealing with on a daily basis.
It also gives us necessary reflection time to do reflect on our lives to ensure that whatever we are spending our time and money on and who we are spending our time with, are still in line with our priorities and our values. Time has allowed many of us to complete jobs and tasks which we might have been putting off for a while and has also allowed us to recognise that it wasn’t ‘time’ that was preventing us from finishing those tasks but maybe lack of motivation instead.
What advice would you give to people who are getting cabin fever over the summer?
I’m not sure I can call it ‘advice’ because I don’t know the impact that this situation has had on each different person. I think that everyone needs to get through the situation in the best way they think is possible. Personally, for me, the situation has impacted me financially which has caused me to worry, but on the other hand, I am enjoying the downtime and making my routine work to support the goals that I set for myself before the lockdown. I am a big believer that if you can’t change a situation, then it’s best to see the positives that work for you because it’s wasted energy to focus on the aspects that we have little or no control over.
Particularly in the Middle East many of us won’t have seen our families for a long time – what advice can you give on keeping connected and keeping the positivity with loved ones?
I’m sure this aspect has been particularly tough on many people, and not just because of the lack of contact with families but also the worry for their safety if they are abroad. Our families will all have different worries and we can’t assume that they feel the same as us. I would say, don’t be afraid to reach out as often as you need to, forget about what a normal level of contact is, and do whatever you need to get through this situation. On the other hand, reach out to anyone who hasn’t been in touch in case they need you too but are afraid to reach out.
How do you think values and priorities have changed with this situation?
There is nothing like a ‘once in a lifetime’ situation to force us to question our priorities and values. I would anticipate that lots of people will make BIG life changes following the ending of this situation, maybe not straight away, but perhaps 6 months after returning to ‘normal’. There has been a greater focus on our health due to the nature of the situation and on what we spend most of our time doing every day, so living life to the fullest and taking a ‘now or never’ approach to our goals and dreams might resonate even more at this time.
In your own words how would you describe life after COVID-19 and how do you think things will change?
In the short term, social distancing will become a big part of our lives and that will change things drastically. I think we will continue to have a heightened awareness of personal hygiene, particularly in public places or with strangers where bacteria can easily transfer from surfaces, but honestly, I think that we will resume life as normal with our friends and family. We all need physical contact and frequent hugs are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure, increase oxytocin levels and generally improve cardiovascular health.
What is a lesson we can all learn from this time?
I think that everyone will learn a different lesson from this time, but something I hope that everyone learns is to have even more appreciation for the things they took for granted and gratitude for all the positive aspects of life.
What advice would you give to those who also have children to motivate over the summer?
Take each day as it comes, try not to judge yourself for anything you do or don’t do. The children will survive, whether you do crafts with them every day or give them an iPad to watch. Now is not a time for judgement. If it bothers you, don’t look at what other parents are doing on social media. If your kids are driving you crazy, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent….it just means you need a chat or catch up with friends!
What should we do on “dark days” to pick ourselves up again?
I would accept that those days might come, and they might come at the times when you least expect them. I think it’s normal for some days to seem darker than others, even if there isn’t something obvious that is causing it. Some people prefer to be alone at those times and others need to talk with friends and family. Allow feelings to come and then let them go.
What is the motto that you’re living by at the time?
“This too shall pass!”