The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed me to do some life edits. I’m thinking deeply about my life as a 75-year-old woman and what changes to make as I learn to live with restrictions
Just as I edit clothes as the seasons change, doing a life edit as seasons of life change is appropriate. Some experts recommend a life-edit every 6 to 8 months — or when feeling overwhelmed. And, there is no question that the uncertainty of this pandemic has frequently left me with feelings of being overwhelmed.
Facing various limitations since the beginning of the pandemic has left me experiencing a range of emotions. My routines have changed as has some of my thinking. Some days it takes all my energy to hold things together and not succumb to the stress of the effects of the pandemic in my life.
It’s clear that most of us will continue to face restrictions as the pandemic continues its ruthless second wave of infections. Living through this time has created a sustained level of stress and fear. Coupled with a constant stream of bad news about the number of positive tests, the strain on hospitals, and the number of deaths, it’s clear that life edits are needed to get through the next few months.
What is a life edit?
A life edit is a means of taking stock of your life. How am I changing? What matters now? What can be eliminated? Where am I headed?
Sometimes life editing is equated with simplifying. Or, it may be equated with self-improvement. Perhaps it’s about finding contentment with what you have — knowing what is important with no further searching for an elusive ideal.
As I think about what’s next in my life, I ask myself ‘what really matters?’ Living in our new normal during the pandemic is a good time to take stock. Things that made sense in the past, like going to the pool or the gym every morning are not smart choices. Instead, I walk every day or do some yoga. Hand weights provide strength training. I miss the companionship of playing bridge with friends; online games are fine but lack the social component.
Life edits include evaluation of commitments and saying ‘No’. The commitments that don’t create feelings of excitement and anticipation should be first on the list. Last week I notified the selection committee of a club to which I belong that I was unable to take on more responsibility on the executive committee of the club. A few months ago I would have agreed to more responsibilities but, since doing some life edits, I knew that the commitment would cause more stress and take precious time from other things that matter to me.
For many of us, the pandemic has eliminated commitments and forced us to cut back on social engagements — we’ve been forced to edit activities or find alternatives such as attending meetings with zoom.
With restrictions on socializing during the pandemic, options for changes are limited. Life editing needs to focus on behaviours and attitudes that will carry me through the next few months. What will bring feelings of excitement and fulfillment? Is this time of isolation influencing my personality as well as my options?
Research shows that ageing results in personality changes, a process referred to as ‘personality maturation’. Research also shows that our personality is linked with well-being as we age. https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20200313-how-your-personality-changes-as-you-age
I’m sure that facing a drastic event such as living through a pandemic also influences personality. We face an unknown future as nobody quite knows how we will live in ‘new normal’ times.
Thinking about the new normal is another opportunity to evaluate what really matters.
What Really Matters?
Meaningful Connections –Meaningful connections with people I love are top of my list of what really matters. Despite the pandemic, we see our son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren for weekly dinners as they are part of our safe ‘bubble’ of close contacts. I cherish the one day each week when I pick up my granddaughter from her French Immersion school for our weekly ‘date’. Weather permitting, we hang out at our local park, or bake, or do a special craft. She helps me with dinner preparations and waits eagerly for her parents and her brother to join us for the evening. After dinner, we play games with the children. Sometimes we dance! Sometimes we look at a silly tv show! Human connections matter!
Health — Maintaining good health matters more than ever when I consider the challenges faced by the health system during the pandemic. This is no time to find oneself in the Emergency Room and needing sutures if there is a kitchen mishap with a sharp knife much less than if one suffers a major health event such as a heart attack. Staying physically active, sleeping enough and eating those veggies are three things related to my health over which I have some control. I’ll leave the rest to the gods.
Kindness — I know that I can be kinder — to myself and to those around me. Sometimes I catch myself snapping at my husband for no good reason. Since the onset of the pandemic, all of us need to cut ourselves more slack. Perhaps if I can show myself more kindness, I will have more tolerance for my husband’s short-comings.
Social Media — Whenever I think about life edits for less wasted time, the first place I look at how much time I spend on social media. Social media can be a black hole. Editing to limit inbound communication, unfollowing people who don’t inspire, and setting timers are my current strategies.
Small Pleasures — I know that a tidy house with less clutter to decrease distractions and stress adds to my pleasure as I stay at home. Good chocolate, interesting cheeses, and nice wines for happy hour are indulgences for the end of every home-bound day.
Considering what matters in my life offers an opportunity to do pandemic life edits to improve overall happiness. None of these life edits take away from things that I love. Life is fluid and the changed circumstances of the pandemic have helped me to focus on priorities on the life story that I live now rather than what/how I lived before the pandemic.
Thanks for reading my post. I hope you are inspired to do your own life edits.