I’m writing this article while we are living through the COVID-19 pandemic. Most, if not all of us, are social distancing, some of us are in communities or states on full lockdown. Staying home close to full time, except for going outside for walks, exercise and essentials, has become our modus operandi for the time being.

While some people feel they have more room in their days for checking off things on their “someday” to-do list like personal/professional development via online classes, tackling home projects and quality time with their family, I’m seeing and hearing some of the following sentiments from others on social media and in online meetings, in their efforts to cope with this situation:

  • Some feel like they have even less time than they did pre-COVID-19 (especially parents with children home from school or out of daycare)
  • They’re concerned whether they’re doing everything they can possibly do/feeling burnt out from the ripple effects of COVID-19
  • They’re trying to “keep busy to prevent feeling lazy”

For all these reasons, I’m waving the caution flag, warning you to avoid replicating the extreme “busy-ness” that may have been driving your professional and personal life pre-COVID-19. Instead, I invite you to use this forced pause as an opportunity to build more breathing space into your day.

Rather than autopiloting frenetically through your days with back-to-back activities, create days that are a balance of doing and being. It’s in the grounding and moments of stillness that we can hear and tap into our intuition, discover, grow and innovate.  Consider when you’re in the shower and ideas pop into your head. That’s because your mind has been allowed to wander.

What might happen if you deliberately create your own “shower space” by embracing and integrating pockets of stillness during your day?

We’re all figuring out this temporary way of existence. Use this moment in time as a reset to discover a rebalanced routine that works for you.

Tune into and work with your natural rhythms. What time of day is optimal for analytical/cerebral/creative work or professional development? When is it best for you to do administrative tasks from returning emails, text and phone calls, to conducting meetings, to performing household tasks, errands, and have family time?

Let’s take a lesson from kids’ schedules being shared on social media.  As you build a routine that honors your rhythms, include blocks of space for YOU for fun, rest/quiet and moving/stretching.  That could range from sitting quietly with a cup of tea, on your front stairs or porch or someplace in nature. It might be focused breathing, meditating or journaling. Stretching. Reading something inspirational. Listening to soothing music. Doodling. Napping. Deeply listening to and honoring what you need and is most important in this moment.

Experiment with the mix of doing and being approaches that work best to both keep you engaged in the present and move your personal and professional life forward.

When this “hunkering down” way of living ends, realize you will have likely built some muscles that increased your comfort level with stillness and grant you more balance and resilience.  I encourage you to bring those skills and practices forward. In addition, out of this current time, recognize that embracing pockets of stillness is not being lazy. Besides helping you recharge, it will likely help you crystallize what matters most, create ideas and solutions and enhance relationships with others (and yourself) that you previously couldn’t find the space for, while in the trance of “busy-ness.”

Chris Vasiliadis, a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach, inspires people to use their well-being as their secret weapon to successfully lead their life. Working both one-on-one and speaking in professional, healthcare and corporate settings since founding her business, Priority Wellness, in 2008, she has helped countless individuals energize their health, avoid burnout and improve their performance.  Choosing to prioritize her wellness after her multiple sclerosis diagnosis in 2005, Chris has been relapse-free for over 12 years.  A lover of reading and writing since childhood, her first personal development book is titled Ignition: A Professional Woman’s Guide to Energized, Burnout-Proof Living.