Why Did It Take A Pandemic To Get Me To Slow Down?

I’m semi-retired, but most days I still feel like I’m chasing my tail and there aren’t enough hours for everything I want to achieve

Admittedly, my inability to say no was a big part of the problem — because I do waste hours of my week on unnecessary activities, and then I get cross with myself for compromising what time I have left to do what I enjoy.

Woman lying on ground, relaxing.
Photo by Eunice Stahl on Unsplash

The truth is, the world won’t stop turning if I don’t empty the washing machine immediately

Furthermore, on the rare occasions I allow myself to breathe, to throw the ball to the dog on the beach or take in the natural beauty of where we live, my head clears, and I kick myself for not doing it more often.

Sometimes, it’s enough just to be. To be me. To be happy in my skin

I’m sure spiritualists have some fancy term for the art of “enjoying the moment” — something like unconscious mindfulness, I imagine. But whenever I’ve tried to be intentionally mindful in the past, I’ve found it impossible to close down the different tabs in my brain — this, despite my belief in the importance of living each day as if it’s my last that derived from the pain of losing my mother in my teens — an invaluable life lesson, although, not one I would recommend.

Unfortunately, a clink in the armour of the human brain is that many of us only realise what we have when it’s gone

Fortunately, COVID has rammed the importance of that philosophy home, and the physical effects of ageing are also helping me slow down. While I moan about the limitations of my body — and this year has been a real test — I am beginning to understand its language. When it lets me know I’ve pushed it too hard, I’m learning to listen to it, because those minor pains and aches quickly evolve into costly issues when they aren’t addressed.

It’s important to allow yourself days off; days when you do absolutely nothing

Recently, a friend of mine took her two weeks of annual leave at home due to the current restrictions. At the time, she was feeling burnt out at work, and I know she was disappointed she couldn’t escape somewhere exotic for “a change of scene”. Nevertheless, she approached her two weeks with a positive mindset and a list of her priorities for her time off — relaxation foremost, with some walks, swims, catch-ups with friends, and some overdue organisational tasks if she found the time.

Trips abroad, where we used to cram more into a day than we would at work, are not always what our body needs

I have fully embraced the return to simple living that COVID has foisted upon us, which means I’m feeling really quite nervous about my return to the hustle and bustle of normal life.

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