The unbridled spread of COVID 19 has caused all but essential service providers to drop what we were doing and settle in at home.
This forced slowdown is very uncomfortable for most. Notwithstanding the stress we increasingly feel about our financial security, for many of us our mental health is maintained by our participation in meaningful work. Without that work, without having something external to direct our attention, effort, and even passion to, we are left floundering to find stability and juggling myriad possibilities with indecisiveness.
Many of us have our identities and feelings of self-worth tied up in our work. We feel we’re valuable because we do. Without our regular avenues of activity, we may start to question our own meaningfulness and purpose.
But this forced slowdown is not necessarily a bad thing.
Collectively we’ve been racing through time, chasing the next best thing, devouring resources at alarming rates, and wreaking havoc in the natural systems on the planet. We’ve created such pressure for ourselves and each other many of us live on our last nerve, with heightened sensitivity and lowered tolerance for anything we disagree with or are caught off guard by.
Maybe Covid 19 is actually a gift to many of us. We have the time to stop and actually spend time with ourselves and our loved ones. We get to jump off the treadmill and take the time to look around for other possible interests to direct our attention. We have the opportunity to think, consider, choose, reflect – slow down and deepen our experience of ourselves and our actions.
This slowdown can give us a chance to reconnect with ourselves in ways we haven’t been able for a very long time as we’ve been producing and struggling to keep our heads above water in the evermore demanding push for economic growth.
We’ve seen priorities shift throughout society to mobilize against covid 19. The things we have been told couldn’t be done have been. Hospitals have been built in 2 weeks. Research is being implemented in weeks and months, not years. Money is being provided to feed and shelter those without adequate incomes without quibbling.
When the situation is taken seriously enough, society can mobilize to ensure we are all taken care of together.
Our values that we generally only give lip service to in good times are actually acted upon in times of collective danger.
So we have an opportunity with this slowdown, to reflect on our values. Reflect on our actual worth. Decide for ourselves what we want to spend our time on, not just waiting to be directed by a boss or our need to make money.
Now is an opportunity to just be, instead of do. To catch up on our sleep, which will improve our overall health since most of us are sleep deprived. To read those books we’ve accumulated on our bedside or desk or wish list. To try those new recipes we’ve been collecting for a special occasion. To sit and read with our kids, to listen to their stories and interpretations, to hear their thoughts, and snuggle them close. To play tag or duck duck goose out in the back yard. To play Monopoly or Scrabble or Yahtzee as a family, and learn how to play nicely with one another again.
Now’s a time for us to take stock. To reflect on what’s truly important to us. To decide if we’re content with the life we’ve been living or if now that we have time that we’d like to change the direction we want to take when we all get back to work. Maybe you want to take some time now to learn a new skill, or take some online courses, or explore other employment or career possibilities. Maybe there’s a cause you have always felt passion about but have never had the time to contribute. Perhaps now’s a good time to look into local ways to get involved, if not in person, then in other ways now, and in person later.
Maybe you’ve always wanted to write a book. Or start a podcast. Or learn a new language. Or create special crafts.
This forced slowdown is an opportunity for us to reconnect with ourselves, our values, our dreams, our passions. To slow down and take some time to just be and see what floats to the surface. To let ourselves catch up to our lives and to assess whether or not we are where we wanted to be and if not to plan how we’re going to get there.
Collectively, we’ve been racing into the future. Individually now we have the time to decide what we want that future to be and how we want to be in it. When we come back together, we can create a more intentional, inclusive, holistic, balanced society, where our priorities actually reflect our values of social cohesion and equitable opportunity.
Taking this time to be, away from the push to do, will help clarify that future vision for all of us, and use covid 19 to our individual and collective advantage.
Until then, stay safe and healthy, at home, and 6 feet away from others. And wash your hands frequently.
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