I had been living for 6 months in West Village, Manhattan when the pandemic hit. As the city turned into a ghost town, I packed up my things, said goodbye to my roommates, and left for the Ohio suburbs to “wait it out.” Fast forward nearly 12 months later, living by myself in the suburbs has been challenging and a blessing in disguise for my self-care. Here’s what I did and what I learned:
A Personal Development Deep Dive. I left the city and went to town on nurturing myself with:
- The Artist’s Way creative recovery course
- Kyle Hanagami’s 30-day dance challenge
- A Brené Brown Daring Greatly group on vulnerability
- A semi-regular meditation practice (I still struggle with doing it daily)
- An ongoing relationship with a therapist for the first time in years.
Having time to explore parts of myself I had neglected has been beautifully healing and has me feeling well cared for in spite of living by myself.
Created A Clearer Vision For My Business And My Life. I’ve been coaching for two years but marketing has been a struggle since my clients are so diverse. The extra time and quiet of life during COVID-19 has given me even more clarity and perspective on what I want the business and my life to look like long-term – including what matters most and why I do the work.
Deepened (Virtual) Relationships. I think one of the blessings of the Great Pause for many of us has been an overall increase in “leaning towards meaning” – in our lives, work, and our relationships. The pandemic strengthened my healthy, mutually supportive friendships, and was also revealing of the relationships that have been based on habit or convenience more so than joy and genuine connection.
Cooking, Art, and Music. Before the pandemic I hadn’t cooked for myself in years. Being busy with a new business and before that, work and travel had me living on smoothies and Soylent for lunch. My interest in the arts and music was always something I dismissed as an indulgence. A quieter suburban lifestyle has me embracing simple pleasures: Cooking, dabbling in the arts, and enjoying music on a near daily basis. Also more reading, which is something I haven’t done much of since graduate school. I’m loving the leisure time and I can see a direct impact on how I show up in my work and relationships.
I don’t mean to suggest I haven’t struggled during COVID. I know I’m extremely lucky, and I recognize my privileges now more so than ever. Even so I’ve had many a crying fit, uncovered wounds I didn’t know existed, and drowned in heartbreak for a while. I even had a foot injury in the summer of 2020 leaving me even more housebound and isolated during Ohio’s best weather months.
That said, having nowhere to run or hide invited me to tune in to what I needed and could benefit from as other things went on pause. It’s been a total reversal in how I approach self-care – from the thing I do when I’m exhausted or overwhelmed to the thing that I lead with. Sometimes destruction can lead to rebirth.
Casey Onder is Career Coach based in New York City. As a Psychology PhD and formerly stressed out management consultant, she helps women in corporate create careers and businesses they love. Get weekly career tips and inspiration by signing up for her newsletter at caseyonder.com.