There’s a lot of discussions these days about the psychological after-effects of Covid. Hopefully, at some point we will all reach this looking-back stage of life.
What habits have you formed?
There have been numerous stories and conversations in the media about how we’ve changed as a result of the pandemic. I’ve read that it takes 18-254 days for new habits to form and 66 days for them to become automatic (Healthline.com, in an Article by Scott Frothingham, Oct 2019), so we’ve all had plenty of time to form new habits, for better or worse, during the pandemic. Now is the time to reflect on them.
An emphasis on organization
So many people I know spent months cleaning and organizing their homes, especially women friends around my age. They have been trying to develop new habits for culling and maintaining their newly organized drawers and shelves. There was satisfaction in the accomplishment and pleasure in living in an improved environment. My husband, an excellent cook and now also a bread baker did a massive re-org of our spices and now we can find everything. I never want to go back to where we were prior to March 2020.
Simplifying our lives
Reorganizing and re-habituating our behavior got me thinking about proposing a different version of how to simplify your life (as introduced in Marie Kondo’s best-seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up). The cleaning and organizing frenzy that took hold during the many months of isolation can wind down now. Simply put, there’s just so much more to do again. Yet many of us have re-prioritized our time and energy during this instructive year and a half, and we want to hold onto the lessons learned.
If you can experience menopause as a time of liberation, celebration, and self-actualization – and NOT of deterioration and decline – then you might also imagine how life might be beyond menopause. Self-described as a “just past middle-aged, white, married, progressive, healthy, woman artist, living in San Francisco, California, USA”, I’ve made a few lists to organize my thoughts on living through the Covid experience and going forward. This is different from returning to “normal”. I’m acting on what I’ve learned and want to hold onto from this past year and a half as well as what I want to toss out. I’ve provided my lists to consider while building your own lists.
What to keep…
- Maintaining what you’ve organized
- Reading and writing more than ever
- Walking a lot
- Exercising regularly / on a daily planned schedule
- Spending more time outside
- Socializing outdoors
- Checking in with friends and family near and far
- Reaching out and reconnecting with old, long-lost friends
- Cooking, baking, and eating most meals at home (okay, the truth is that my husband does most of the cooking and baking)
- Sleeping more (why not?)
- Drinking more water
- Spending time just hanging out with family and pets
- Making things: art (see my last article suggestions to get a jumpstart: It’s not too late for ideas on home projects, and making food from scratch (I wish I could say I’d grown it too)
- Designing, building, and repairing things in your home
- Reviewing and sorting photos
- Feathering your nest: buying art, displaying your own art and photos, painting walls pretty colors, refreshing worn-out furniture
- Looking natural and gray-haired if you already let it all grow out, you might as well keep it as is (I am not doing this as I am enjoying being a blonde at this stage of my life)
- Being an activist and building on increased awareness about inequities. After all, we older women are usually invisible (see my article about this topic: Invisible women rising and we have to keep up the fight to be seen and heard.
- Not being embarrassed (or dishonest!) about your age – I am proud to be 65 years of age and still going strong
- Trying new ways of doing things
- Continuing to develop skills and hobbies begun during sheltering
- Helping other people in need by volunteering
- Being politically active and aware and championing your causes
- Buying flowers for yourself (I admit that I’ve been doing this for years)
- Expanding your community while honing your practices – for me this was life drawing virtually all around the world
- Letting your hair grow long and trimming it yourself
And what to toss out…
- Being critical of yourself for unhealthy habits
- Backing away from people and being feeling fearful and anti-social
- Judging people for not agreeing with your point of view
- Lounging around
- Streaming screen addictions
- Exercising that hurts you (or you could wind up with surgeries like my recent shoulder repair)
- Eating too much of the wrong foods and “Covid bad eating habits” (more sugar? baked goods?)
- Drinking too much (alcohol) and accompanying bad drinking habits (like passing out on the sofa)
- Zoom calls all the time
- Staying indoors even in good weather
- Wearing shapeless, grungy, comfy clothes – dress up again!
- Not planning social events and travels
- Feeling lonely and alone – get out and meet new people or reconnect with old friends
- Not going places – it’s time (depending upon where you live) to go to galleries and museums, gather with friends, show your support to restaurants, shops, and cultural institutions
- Reading and watching all the news all the time (and quoting stats)
- Feeling stagnant
- Working all the time
What’s on your list?
These are my long lists and I could go on and on. But to bring it home, if you feel like you lost time then you can also start to feel like you’re making up for it by energetically throwing yourself into new ventures and changing things up. I look forward to starting new projects and planning trips. The summer of 2021 feels like a New Year’s Day and a time for annual resolutions. It’s a chance for a fresh start.
What matters now
At age 65 I’m still experiencing symptoms I thought should have ended years ago – occasional hot flashes, night sweats, and sleepless nights. Recently I learned that I may have these symptoms for years to come. But I feel pretty darn good and extremely lucky every day. It’s no longer important to me for people to think I’m younger than I am. I had some extra time to think and appreciate my life. It was a gift. Moving forward, being fully alive, healthy, and creative with a head-full of ideas and a dedication to making things happen is what matters to me now.
Susan R. Kirshenbaum.
Creativity. Lifestyle. Mental Wellbeing. Women’s Empowerment.
If you enjoyed this article and would like to help us support this beautiful project so we can continue creating amazing content; please help us by donating as little as the cost of a coffee or as much as you like.