Living in isolation during COVID-19 has allowed us time away from the daily grind and living in autopilot to get through our days. It presents an opportunity for time to reflect on how we are currently living and working to achieve what’s important to you. It’s a chance to reflect on how energised, engaged and passionate you feel, how satisfied you are with how you spend your time and ultimately how fulfilled you are at the end of your week. Thinking about what’s important to you means taking the time to reflect on your personal values and whether your current way of living is helping you fulfil or compromise these values.
For example, if your health is important to you and you currently feel like you aren’t living in a way that serves your health, now is the perfect opportunity to start some healthy habits to incorporate into your normal life. Whether this is a new sleep routine, exercise class or program or trying to cook more; set yourself small, achievable goals to work towards throughout your time in isolation.
If your family and friends are important to you but you know you are often too tired to engage with them or contact them then use this time to reconnect. Establish some new routines and activities that you can take forward to normal life. Many people are connecting with their families and friends over video conferencing platforms and if you are geographically separated, why not continue these catch-ups when normal life resumes.
Many of us have experienced changes to our work tasks and environment and it’s important to appreciate that future change is also inevitable. However, this presents an opportunity for reflection and innovation to ensure you are working in the most effective and fulfilling way for you and your organisation.
If you don’t normally make time to self-reflect and have been operating on auto-pilot for many years you may find that taking the time to reflect can lead to rumination or overthinking. Rumination is described as repeated thoughts about something that occurred or of a problem that we are trying to solve. This could be positive or negative and ruminating over good things can be helpful as it allows us to find a solution.
However around 80 percent of our memory is of negative things which, evolutionary, was designed to keep us safe from danger. Therefore, typically we ruminate by replaying a negative event in our heads that leads to an increase in stress, or feelings of guilt, anger, sadness, regret or even depression.
The number one way to avoid rumination, regardless of whether it is positive or negative, is to talk with someone about it. Why? Because the longer we keep 'thinking' about something without some form of control the higher the chance that it will end in negative rumination as our brain goes into our memory to find the solution from past experience.
If you find yourself ruminating over a situation that involved others, it may help to all reflect on the situation as a pair or a group. Firstly decide on a topic you want to reflect on, for example, a past event, upcoming project, reviewing a report, an important decision, etc. Assign someone as a listener (the listener will also be the timekeeper). The listener’s role is to listen for 10 minutes to the speaker’s reflections on the given topic. If there are silences, that’s fine too. The roles then swap.
After everyone has had a chance to reflect aloud, go into another round of reflecting about what you’ve heard. Five minutes each is often enough. You can continue until the process comes naturally to an end. Note-taking is useful to ideas and new insights.
Have you been noticing a spike in your stress as a result of COVID-19? If so, you certainly aren’t alone. Pandemics are not declared lightly, and an increase in your stress is actually a normal response. However, not only is stress unpleasant, but it can also hinder your immunity.