How do you want to live after lockdown?

Some of us will miss the last phase of lockdown more than others. Far from being ‘in it together’ our experience of the pandemic has been deeply and devastatingly divided.

What we do all share is the very hard to gain (and even harder to hold on to) commodity that is fresh perspective. Whether endured or enjoyed, radical changes have shed light on important aspects of our lives; on what we (really) need, who we miss and what matters most to us.

As we continue to adjust to lockdown transitions this perspective will ebb, almost imperceptibly, away from us. New circumstances bring new perspectives, challenges and priorities and it’s in these murky waters of change that we lose sight of the clarity, awareness and resolve that life-changing events bring.

The fresh perspective that we have all gained, and the resulting ideas and intentions, can range from exciting to disorientating, disheartening and even distressing. They may not feel welcome, probable or even possible to us. Initially, they often raise questions: What do I do with this information? Where do I start? When should I start? Surely it won’t work? What if I fail?

One thing we can be sure of is that we will be sold many different ways of living as society and the economy attempt to “bounce back”. If you are already feeling disorientated in the aftermath of the last few months (and really, who isn’t?). Then these loud voices, on top of the challenges of relentless change and uncertainty, have the potential to leave us anywhere from unsettled to completely lost at sea.

I’m not an expert and nor is anyone else, on how you best navigate the months ahead. By best I mean doing what’s right for you – your heart, soul and individual circumstances. With this in mind, I’ve put together some questions you can run through to support you to take a reading from that excellent inner compass of yours as we transition out of lockdown.

The questions focus on supporting you to develop more clarity on where you are now, how changes have impacted you, and what this may mean for you in future. If this sounds useful then give it a go. It should take about 15 minutes, but you can whizz through in 10 or spend as long on it as you like.

before you get started…

  • This exercise is not a test of anything or anyone – there are no right or wrong answers. It may benefit or be shared with others in future, but for now it is just for you
  • Please proceed with the greatest kindness, compassion and honesty you can muster : )
  • Grab a pen and some paper and find a quiet place to sit
  • Make yourself comfortable
  • Make yourself even more comfortable
  • Write down your responses to the questions below, following it through to the end if you feel up to it

in this moment

  • To start, describe five things about where you are sitting. Colours, smells, sounds, temperature – whatever comes to your senses
  • What’s your favourite object in the room? What do you like about it?
  • Now close your eyes (if you feel comfortable doing so) and take three soft, deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth
  • On a scale of 1 (not at all) to 5 (very), how energised do you feel today?
  • How would you describe your current mood? (If not in words, then perhaps a shape or colour)

looking back

  • What big changes have you made in your life in the last few weeks?
  • And what small changes have you made? (Don’t worry about catching all of them, just the ones that spring to mind)
  • On the whole, how has making these changes felt?
  • What about these changes has been most welcome?
  • What have you most missed while we have been in lockdown? (Be honest : )
  • Has lockdown led you to value anything in your life more – large or small? If so, what?
  • Has lockdown led you to place less value or importance on anything in your life? If so, what?
  • Of ALL the things you’ve done over the last two months, what are you most proud of?

looking ahead

  • How would you say you are feeling about the next few months?
  • Of the changes you’ve made in lockdown, are there any you’d like to maintain in some way?
  • If you do want to maintain more than one change, if you could choose only one, which would you choose? What are your reasons for choosing this particular change?
  • Similarly, is there anything you can’t or are not doing now that you intend to do in future? How do you imagine this thing (or things) will make you feel?
  • How do you hope the world around you will change as a result of the pandemic?

and finally…

  • Close your eyes (if you feel comfortable doing so), place a palm in the middle of your chest and listen to any words or feelings that come up (skip this if this is a bit much for you : )
  • Take three more soft deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth
  • How do you feel now?
  • And you’re done. Good work. Pop your piece of paper somewhere safe, recycle it or burn it up. Whatever feels right for you
  • If you can, take a bit of time out now to let what you’ve been reflecting on settle, perhaps have a brew, pop some music on or have a bath

It is very much up to you what you do with the reflections you’ve come up with. What I would say, is try not to feel any pressure to do anything in particular. Transitions, and the transitions upon transitions we’re set to experience in the weeks ahead, are unsettling hard work. There is no rush, and remember, doing nothing is both a choice and an action and often a very good one when so much is in flux.

It goes without saying that we will need to continue to adapt and keep making changes in the weeks and months ahead. With this in mind, this exercise is one that would benefit from being repeated if/when the inclination arises. Carving out time to reflect in transitionary times is invaluable.