We are now nearing the one-year marks of “pandemic living” and with the constraints we have been under, many of us have reflected on how we were living, and whether we want to make changes to our lifestyles. The screeching halt, or outright loss, of some life endeavors, and inability to spend time with those we love, can feel like a surreal reality that makes us reflect on the concept of purposeful or meaningful ways of living our lives. This is the first in a series of blogs that will examine what we can take away from this time.
Work to Live or Live to Work?
For those of us who centered career as a focus, it has been scary to question one’s job security due to the economic impacts of this pandemic. Despite high performance and dedication to work, economic realities can sometimes lead to layoffs. We may wonder if we have invested our time in a strategic way. For example, we may wonder what we have missed by focusing on a career that can ultimately be interrupted by no fault of our own.
Alternatively, for those who saw their job or career as a means to afford things that matter to them (e.g., travel, life events, fitness, creative endeavors, etc.), much of those life pleasures may be currently inaccessible. We may wonder who we are if we can’t live in the ways that bring us the most satisfaction? We may become even more aware about unsatisfying aspects of our job without these distractors.
The pandemic raises questions on both lifestyles.
The lockdown can draw into sharp focus our previous life leaning (working to live or living to work). As such, this can be an opportunity to check in with ourselves about the values we hold. Does where I put my time reflect my values well? Do I feel that I am living in a way that I can be proud of? Are there practicalities I need to face or debt I need to pay off? Are there people or creative endeavors or athletics that I need to reconnect with that matter to me? Do I need more down time where I am away from devices and really taking in my surroundings?
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy
These can be challenging questions to answer. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) is a an approach that can help us answer these questions by identifying the values we want to center in our lives, and how to navigate the inner (i.e., emotional) or outer (i.e., busy lives) interruptions that can easily knock us off our course. It involves attending to what we want to commit to in our lives and accept that there will be interruptions we will have to address and/or bring along with us toward what matters to us. It introduces new ways to manage when we are overcome with strong emotions we find unpleasant (such as regret or anger or shame) and ways we can soothe and attend to these feelings in healthy ways. You can read more about ACT here.
The content of this blog is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your mental health provider or physician with any questions that you have regarding mental health concerns. If you think you have an emergency, please call 911 or visit your nearest emergency room.