Updated: May 27, 2020
Is anyone else riding a constant wave of emotion during quarantine? One minute I’m incredibly happy, embracing the unexpected time with my family and the opportunity it has allowed me to focus on my business and the next I am a bottle of wine deep, going on day three without showering, sulking around in the track pants I’ve been wearing since last Wednesday.
The highs and lows are incredible.
It’s been said, “we’re all in the same storm, however we’re not in the same boat”.
This couldn’t be more true.
I’m a single 33-year-old with no dependents, obligations or employment to interfere with my personal growth. My biggest upset was having to leave Thailand a month early to reconvene with my mother and sister (neither of whom have lived in the same country as me for over a year.)
I have friends whose situations seem impossible and relentless. They are wrestling with maintaining full-time jobs while simultaneously being full-time moms. Even their bathroom breaks are supervised by tiny humans.
In comparison, my situation is a walk in the park.
Yet, it’s incredibly hard, too.
I’ve had to find grace and release the desire to compare. I’ve humbly reminded myself that just because my situation isn’t the same as someone else's, doesn’t mean my feelings aren’t valid nor my experiences any less significant.
I mention this in case you’re anything like me and have been beating yourself up over not waking up earlier, having a butt you can bounce quarters off, reading more books, exploring your creativity or heck, even showering on a daily basis.
I’m here to gently remind my fellow perfectionists to have more empathy and love with yourself. You are doing the best you can.
This is a pandemic.
For some, this will be a time of significant personal growth, for others it will be hard lessons learned.
Yet no matter where you fall on the Covid progress scale, please know that it’s enough. Give yourself permission to sleep in, cry, scream, run, move, watch Netflix, eat greasy food or use dry shampoo as a substitute for washing your hair.
Take care of yourself. Be kind to yourself. Love yourself.
If you’re having one of those down days and you can't for the life of you remember how to be happy, check out the list below and see what resonates with you.
1. Write a gratitude journal: I cannot overemphasize this enough. Writing a daily list of all the things in your life that you appreciate is a surefire way to have more of them. When we shift our perspective to find the good in our daily experiences, we cultivate a deep experience of love and appreciation in our lives. Start small. Write five things each day that you’re grateful for. It can be as simple as your morning coffee or as profound as the chubby cheeks and juicy toes of your infant. Whatever you do, make it a daily habit. The sooner you get into the Attitude of Gratitude, the quicker you’ll start finding the rainbow amidst the storm.
2. Get outside: I cannot tell you the difference a walk in the woods made for me today! I’ve spent hours staring into a computer screen, switching from couch to table in an effort to maximize my productivity. Yet, getting into nature did more for my creativity than the hours I spent contemplating indoors. Here’s a few good reasons to leave the cozy cave you’ve been hibernating in:
Improved short-term memory
Restored mental energy
Sharper thinking and creativity
Possible anti-cancer effects
Vitamin D (instant mood booster)
3. Zoom calls or social distance walks: Haven't had a group chat yet? Girl! It’s time to get on it. Not only is socializing good for your mental health, it’s also great for your physical health (socializing is associated with a stronger immune system). It’s also been linked to an increase in levels of a hormone called oxytocin, which functions to decrease anxiety levels and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system calming down responses. Not only that, socialization increases a hormone that decreases anxiety levels and makes us feel more confident in our ability to cope with stressors. Bottom line, get out there and connect with your nearest and dearest.
4. Meditation: Finding stillness and connecting to your breath cannot be overstated. Meditation offers you a chance to observe your monkey mind, focus on your body and fall into a deeply relaxed state. Not convinced? Check out a few of the many reasons to get your zen on:
Promotes emotional health
Lengthens attention span
May reduce age-related memory loss
Can generate kindness
May help fight addiction
Helps control pain
Can decrease blood pressure
Find yourself a free guided meditation online, stare into the flame of a candle or simply close your eyes. Perhaps start with a five-minute timer on your phone and gradually build up.
5. Exercise: For some, nothing seems less enjoyable than physical activity. I can relate. I struggle to get motivated. Once it’s over, however, I’m instantly happier having pushed myself and feel more accomplished with my day. I’ll sometimes exclaim, “whatever happens in the rest of my day, at least I worked out. Ate Taco Bell for dinner? Who cares, I worked out. Watched Netflix all evening? Doesn’t matter, I worked out.” Whatever motivates you to get moving. Your mental health will thank you. Here’s why:
Helps with depression: a study done by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that running for 15 minutes a day or walking for an hour reduces the risk of major depression by 26%. Not only that, research shows that a consistent workout routine can also prevent you from relapsing.
Helps with anxiety: Exercise causes the release of endorphins in the brain, which helps to relax the muscles and relieve tension in the body. Being as the mind and body are interconnected, a happy body means a happy mind.
Higher self-esteem: When you make physical activity a habit, you’ll foster a higher sense of self worth and in turn feel stronger and more powerful. Not only that, when you crush your exercise goals, you’ll feel incredibly accomplished.
Better sleep: Exercise triggers an increase in body temperature, and the post-exercise drop in temperature may promote falling asleep. Exercise may also reduce insomnia by decreasing arousal, anxiety and depressive symptoms.
6. Self-care: This cannot be overlooked! If you’re anything like me, there’s been moments mid-pandemic that I have forgotten to run a brush though my hair, shave my legs (though that may be more protest than forgetfulness), dye my roots, brush my teeth, shower, wax, paint my nails or pluck my eyebrows. Yet, in my life pre-quarantine, all those things made me feel fantastic. Not only did it boost how I felt physically, it translated to how I felt mentally. I now make an active point to sprinkle a bit or normality into my otherwise turned up routine. And you know what happens after I’ve put in some “me time”? I feel fucking fantastic. Seriously, one facemask or polish change later and I’m a new woman. I also make it a point to get ridiculously dressed up whenever I get groceries. That’s one more opportunity for me to reconnect with myself and what makes me feel good. Perhaps track pants are your outfit of choice. That's totally okay too! The point is, doing whatever it is that makes YOU feel like a dime piece is what’s important. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup, so take care of yourself first.
7. Listen to uplifting music: Have you ever listened to a song that brought you to tears? What about being so moved that your whole body has goosebumps? Music has the uncanny ability to flood the brain with a chemical called dopamine. Dopamine is the chemical in the brain associated with pleasure, motivation and reward. Not only that, As we listen, music works on the autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for controlling blood pressure and heartbeat, as well as the limbic system, which is responsible for feelings and emotions.
8. Treat yourself: Who doesn't love a little pick me up! Studies have shown that shopping actually causes your brain to release more Serotonin, which is a chemical that makes you feel good! By spending money on things that align with your personality, you can actually boost your mood and overall level of happiness. If money is tight, no need to break the bank. Even the purchase of a new scrunchie will give you the “feel goods.”
9. Dark Chocolate: Dark chocolate stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that create feelings of pleasure. Dark chocolate also contains serotonin, an antidepressant that can elevate mood. As if you really needed a reason to eat chocolate!
10. Planning a trip: If you’re like me, this unexpected global shift had an impact on current and future travel plans. While you’re safely at home, now is the time to start mapping out your next vacation destination. This is because according to a study published in the journal Applied Research in Quality of Life, just planning or anticipating your trip can make you happier than actually taking it. So why not go crazy! Make a vision board for the type of trip you plan to take in the future. Timelines are arbitrary, the fun is in the prepping. Get creative and plan out your dream vacay.
Gentle reminder, “This too shall pass.” Nothing is permanent, even suffering. No matter how difficult your situation currently is, be loving and kind with yourself. Know that these feelings and circumstances aren’t permanent and you will emerge from this time in history as a stronger and more resilient person.
Remember, you are important. You are loved. You are needed. You make a difference.
Take care of yourself.
With Love and Light,