As COVID-19 continues to keep most of us at home, it feels like it's time to reassess our values and priorities. How do we really want to live? How do we really want to take care of our health? What do we want life to look like moving forward?

“Never before has there been a time when the entire world got put into a time-out at home,” says Lauren Zander, the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of Handel Group, an international corporate consulting and life coaching company. “Everyone is having to acknowledge what really matters to them – their partnerships, home, family, children, and relationship to self.”

With that in mind, here are five things to consider moving forward.

1. Look at Your Core Relationships

Lockdown has brought many of us into close quarters with family members, shifting our focus from career and money to "living in our hearts," explains Zander. And whether you're confined with family or apart, many of us are taking this time to communicate more frequently – and more openly – with those we love.

This is something that Kimberly Snyder, Holistic Wellness Expert, Nutritionist and Founder of Solluna, has experienced first-hand.

"Even while physically being distant, I have actually felt closer to my friends and family," she says, noting that she has been using FaceTime to connect with those who are far away.

"I think what is most important when you are with someone on the phone, to look them in their eyes, tell them that you love them and that you miss them."

Tina Gilbertson, a psychotherapist and author specializing in parent-adult child estrangement, notes that this time can be one of renewal and reconciliation. She expresses her hopes that the enforced slowdown "will facilitate self-reflection." 

"So much of the change we want to see in our lives, especially in relationships, begins with us," she says. "We often need to be the change we want to see."

Consider using this time to reconnect with people, whether it's making a regular phone date with a friend you rarely speak to or spending meaningful time playing with your kids or going on a walk with your spouse. Putting more attention on these relationships will soon become habit – and one that will follow you even as lockdown ends.

2. Take a Deep Look at Your Feelings

When we’re distracted by career ambitions, to do lists, errands, and more, it pushes our feelings away. But when reprioritizing for the future, it’s important to give these emotions top billing.

“With this reckoning of the heart across the entire world, we’re seeing each individual being forced to feel their feelings,” explains Zander. “And what’s been exposed is a lot of discontentment that was previously going unnoticed."

“With my clients," she continues, "I’m seeing them go deeper, pivot if they need, have the difficult conversations they’ve been putting off, and get to the core of the issues being uncovered to resolve them one way or another.”

Zander recommends taking some time to really look at your “hearts deepest desires” and seeing how they compare to your current reality.

“If you take one good, hard look at your negative thoughts, theories, beliefs, and traits (oh, my), you’ll see how much they’re all messing with your dreams.”

Take some time to reimagine your perfect day. Ask yourself what's getting in the way of most of your days resembling it, and then see how you can dismantle those obstacles to your own fulfillment and joy.

3. Be Kind to Yourself

Snyder recommends taking this time to be kind to yourself and accept that you can’t always “do it all.”

Now is a great time to train ourselves, both emotionally and physically, to be okay with change and let go of control more," she says. “Imagine you’re floating down a river, and rather than bumping up against the shore, just release control and flow along with the current. This way we remain more open to what unfolds, versus experiencing the stress of trying to control and micromanage everything.”

She hopes that this experience leads people to inner peace and self-love.

"No matter what’s going on outside, we can still focus on our inner world and that’s the part we can control," she says.

Take some time to do some deep breathing and meditation to calm the noise and be present in the now. You can read more about how meditation changes your brain

"Use this moment to feel love and peace," says Snyder, "knowing that the more peaceful we are, the more whole and connected we are."

4. Be Honest

Lying can range from little white lies to bigger dishonesties, but Zander hopes this practice will come to an end.

“That means not saying you’re great when you’re really sad, or making a plan to get out of that job you’ve realized is deeply unfulfilling,” she says.

And honesty isn't just about telling the truth to others; it's also about recognizing the truth within yourself.

Take this time to be honest with yourself about what you truly want, and allow that practice to carry over into your interactions with others. When you need to bow out of dinner plans for some essential self-care, or if you really can't take on any more responsibilities at work, don't be afraid to say so! It will pay off in the end.

5. Discover Your Authentic Voice

Often, the noise that surrounds us on a daily basis distracts us from our own self-actualization.

Snyder recommends using a yogic practice that can help with discovering your own truth and identity.

"You ask yourself, 'Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?'" she explains. "If you get down to the core, past your job title for example, and you keep meditating on this, you can start loosening all these labels you have on yourself."

"Through this practice, you may realize all those things aren’t really you," she continues. "For example, just because you’ve been an accountant for 20 years, doesn’t mean that you have to keep being an accountant. It doesn’t mean that is who you are."

Going deep and finding your authentic voice will help you align your reality with your dreams and grant you the power and tools you need for the most authentic version of your life moving forward.

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