Adjusting to a new normal post curfew

By Sakuni Weerasinghe

With the curfew being gradually lifted in many areas and efforts being made by the Government and officials to restore a sense of normalcy, we are all starting to adapt to a life post curfew in the face of Covid-19. Most of us are restarting work or resuming our studies and starting to go out and about. We are essentially stepping back into our old routines once more. But should we?

If staying home has taught us anything, it ought to be to stop and smell the roses. Most of our previous routines included long work hours, not spending quality time with loved ones, stressful commutes, incessant shopping, and pollution of all kinds. Therefore, instead of returning back to our “normal” routines pre curfew, we ought to adjust to a new normal post curfew, which hopefully includes a slower, more intentional lifestyle. 

We often define ourselves by how busy we are. We tend to judge ourselves positively and rate our productiveness by how busy we are. Tackling multiple tasks at once, skipping meals to get work done, and choosing work over family time have all become markers of our success. Yet, busy equates neither productiveness nor success. If we are to engage in productive action and be successful in life, we ought to align our actions with a sense of purpose.

Ask yourself “why” you’re engaging in a particular behaviour. Perhaps you may have realised during your homestay that most of the actions we engaged in lacked purpose. Either they served to fill a void or they came at the cost of our physical and psychosocial wellbeing. When you take a moment to pause and reflect on your actions, you can evaluate how they are serving you to lead a better life, which is exactly what we ought to be doing as part of our new normal.

So let’s take a look at how slow and intentional living can be adopted as our new normal.

Life before work

Slow and intentional living includes rethinking our priorities. What has come to light in facing a pandemic is the focus on things that really matter to us. Our physical and psychosocial wellbeing is far too important to be traded purely for some extra bucks in our pockets. Although it can easily be argued that money is a critical factor in maintaining your wellbeing, it is important to keep in mind that engaging in work you do not fully love and sticking to hectic work schedules, with little time for yourself and your loved ones, is highly stressful and compromises your immunity.

This, in turn, can make you vulnerable to illness, both physical and psychological. Illness can swiftly turn into a barrier that keeps you from earning your wages. Therefore, it is important to shift your priorities in ways that place your wellbeing on top. You can re-evaluate the conditions of your work and means of making money, request for changes you’d like, or adopt alternate ways of earning or find means of increasing your savings which will allow you to engage in work you actually love, instead of sticking it out at a job you find tiresome, dull, or boring.

Embrace free time

Free time during your day is absolutely necessary as a form of rest and recuperation. Take little breaks throughout the day and spend them wisely. You can also plan for a vacation every three or six months as per your choice. You might find yourself rushing to fill that free time. When you find yourself doing that, question whether it is enabling you to rest for a moment or whether it’s added stress and strain. Free time is just free time; time to spend even without engaging in productive action. Let yourself leave it at that. 

Practise gratitude

Staying indoors allowed us to practise gratitude towards everything we have: The safety of our own home, knowing that our loved ones are safe and sound, having food on the table, and being able to connect with others, perhaps more deeply than we ever have before. This is a practice we can bring into our new normal as we adjust to intentional living. We have so much in life to be thankful for and reminding ourselves of these on the daily gives rise to feelings of happiness, joy, contentment, and optimism altogether.

Take a moment to appreciate yourself and your values, how your family and friends go out of their way to care for you, how the kind actions of strangers inspire and motivate you to become a better version of yourself, and how amazing Mother Nature is, which, living in a beautiful isle, we can be grateful for. As a beginner in the practice of gratitude, you can start a gratitude journal and incorporate it into your everyday routine.

Take your time

You are allowed to move at your own pace. Whether it be making your coffee in the morning or choosing to resume your studies at 40, you are allowed to make progress in your own timeframe. You don’t have to rush things just because others – family, friends, or society – say you have to. Slow progress is still progress. Make a conscious decision to work at your own pace and refrain from allowing yourself to make constant comparisons with others.

Try slowing down the pace with which you work, how you connect with others, and how you go about your day in general. You can eat your breakfast slowly at your table, drive to work a little slower, speak to others slower, and go out for a slow leisure walk. This keeps your mind from going into overdrive.