This article was originally published on Swift

It felt as though, in a single day, our lives were turned upside down. Looking back, it was much slower—widespread closures rolled throughout my state of Texas, restaurants I loved shuttered, businesses were considered non-essential, and stay-at-home orders were put into effect. My life, as I knew it, was about to take an abrupt 180.

We don’t truly know its origins. We don’t know the true extent of what it may be capable of. But, a coronavirus named COVID-19 brought a global population to its knees, causing a completely unheard of and once-in-a-lifetime shutdown of the world as we know it. I came across an article that referred to this moment in time as “The Great Pause,” and I couldn’t think of a more accurate description. This singular moment in time is a rare glimpse into what the world could be like, without incessant pollution, forced busyness and the general widespread anxiety that there is simply, not enough time in the day.

I was one of these exacerbated humans. I lived in a world of self-imposed deadlines—a perfectionist bubble that was never satisfied unless I spent 12 hour days grinding away at a keyboard: writing, editing, engaging. Even then, ‘satisfied’ might be using a bit of wordsmith magic. It was the way that I thought things were supposed to be. I was happy—sure, as every entrepreneur is both happy and proud about the long hours that they put in building their business, building their brand. I was a wellness blogger—well, let’s be honest, I still am—that prided herself on having it all figured out. Sleep, self-care, a mental wellness and workout routine that I (mostly) practiced as much as I preached.

But what I didn’t realize—and it took a global pandemic to unearth—was that my own wellness routine was flawed. And, in fact, it was flawed in such a deep way, but I was unwilling to see it outside of The Great Pause because, well, I had never seen what a true calm really was. If you’ve never seen it, how do you know what to replicate? This unparalleled moment in time is calm. This moment is quiet. This moment shouldn’t be wasted. This global pandemic made me rethink my entire wellness routine.

Now, I won’t tell you that you need to come out of a global pandemic with five more skills. You don’t need to come out of your home quarantine with six-pack abs from your new, at-home, virtual routine or a spotless home from hours spent meticulously organizing. For some, this has been an awakening. For others, a nightmare. We are all doing the best that we can. But in these moments of uncertainty, I would tell you to lean into the uncomfortable. Lean into what you have pushed away for far too long because you didn’t deem it essential. Sit with the uncomfortable silence of your feelings. There is a true magic to be had in the breakdown.

What I did learn in this rare moment of introspection was: things were not working. But, rather than focus on the negative, I choose to look forward and see the positives that have come out of the stay-at-home order. I encourage others to do the same. While some may thrive under the restrictions of less socialization, others do not. But recognizing, and understanding this characteristic about yourself is simply a step in the growing process that you might not have otherwise discovered.

This is what has changed for me during this time.

reading in bed with book and coffee

I Truly Understand Quality Sleep

Sure, the Sleep Foundation suggests that adults should get between 7-9 hours of sleep per night. As we have talked about before, that might require a nightly sleep hygiene routine to calm yourself down before better, relax with your favorite wellness products, or unwind with a good book. But how often are you able to go to bed without setting a morning alarm? There is something to be said for the sense of calm that I have felt by knowing that my slumber would’t be broken by a hectic array of rings, dings, and melodies in the morning. Instead, I’ve been fortunate enough to wake up gradually and take my mornings slower. I can enjoy a few extra moments in bed to stretch, read, and enjoy the rays of morning sunshine coming in through my window without the fear of being late or the extra stressors of being rushed. My sleep has felt deeper and more restorative. I’ve settled into a nightly routine that allows me to fall asleep quickly and easily. I’ve noticed that my skin is looking better than ever, too, which I equate to getting a better night’s sleep.

Read More: You Should Always Do These 3 Things Before Bed (And It Doesn’t Involve Your Phone!)

I’ve Learned To Prioritize My Time & Relationships

At first, the pandemic felt like one big juggling act—trying to keep all the balls in the air: work, commitments, writing, friendships, training. Keeping everything, as you say, status quo. As the weeks have stretched on, I’ve realized that this time away society as a whole has shown me what I need to be prioritizing. My daily barrage of text messages have quieted and it became apparent which friendships or acquaintances were serving me and those that we just incessant background noise. I realized the projects that I have a passion for and have put my energy into the last several weeks. Without all the distractions of the outside world, I’ve been able to really focus on the people and tasks that serve me and it has been refreshing to say the least. I’m taking control of my ability to say “no” to projects I’m not interested in and I’m truly feeling inspired and much less burnt out than I have in months. I truly believe that when we begin to go back to work and our lives shift “back to normal,” these will be the things that I remember and continue to put my energy towards.

Read More: Could Wasting Time Be Good For Your Health?
living room and wood coffee table morning

Reorganizing My Space Brings Me Calm

Your home is your personal space and sanctuary. I have always been a person who has been riddled with anxiety over clutter, but I’ve spent the past several weeks working on home projects that I always said “I would get to when I had time.” Well, I have time. And plenty of it. Reorganizing my space and refreshing rooms that have lacked personality has been truly uplifting to my soul. It could be something as simple as changing out the duvet cover on the bed, but each little thing has brought a bit of happiness into my life. Shifting rooms has also allowed my creativity to blossom and flourish without the pressure of deadlines and time constraints. It’s made me realize how much I value a clean, organized and cozy home.

Read More: DIY Project: Rustic Sliding Barn Door + Full Length Mirror

I’ve Stepped Up My Self-Care

I find it laughable that I write articles about self-care and making sure to set aside time for yourself and this headline makes the list. But self-care is just as much about how you take care of your own mental health as it is about fancy face masks and hair treatments. If you aren’t taking time for yourself to feel better, to be better, then you aren’t truly focusing on self-care. Sure, the time spent not going out means that I was more likely to treat myself to an at-home spa procedure, but it went deeper than that. I picked back up my gratitude journal that I had been neglecting. I let myself sleep in. I started reading books again. The little things that I set aside because I felt “I was doing enough,” suddenly came flooding back in and I realized that I did have time, I just hadn’t wanted to make time.

So, where do we go from here?

A Return To What Is Actually Important

My biggest fear in this pandemic is that when it’s over, we, as a society, will forget that it ever happened. In a rush to put things “back to normal,” we will abandon all that we have learned during this quiet period both about ourselves and our community. I encourage you all to ask yourself the question: What is actually worth returning to? You have, in your power, the rare chance to throw away what was no longer serving you, not just on a personal level, but on a global one. I hope that you uncovered and learned something new about yourself. I hope that workplaces see that there is value in a remote work environment. I hope that the world sees the reduced air pollution from the lack of clogged city streets. I hope that you have heard the birds chirping outside your window and taken a moment to slow down and simply appreciate how fresh and clean the Earth smells after it rains. It is my hope that we walk away from this pandemic, a stronger, more capable society, and that our return is to what actually brings us joy and betterment. That is my hope.