2020 has been a lot, right? Maybe this week has been a lot, or even this day, as you’re reading this.
There’s nothing we can change about what happens around us, but there we can take care of our own wellbeing by showing up for ourselves and others the best way possible.
Here are a few ways on how you can navigate through (another) lockdown and the beginning of a new season. Because as the seasons change, so do our natural rhythms.
1. Check In With Yourself
We tend to rush through our days, constantly pushing through and waiting for that moment – Friday night, the weekend, finishing up work,… while taking a moment to calm down and check in with yourself can be all you need at that time.
Before your next meeting, presentation or whenever you have a minute, take a seat, take 3 deep breaths and relax the tensed parts in your body. If you have some more time, turn it into a mini-meditation, where you gently watch your breath as it comes and goes, and allow your thoughts to come and go as well, like clouds.
You will notice that taking this small moment to check in with your body, notice how it general feels and how you feel emotionally, can do wonders. Bringing in mindfulness into our daily lives allows us to stop living on auto-pilot and start living with intention and awareness.
Another way to check in with yourself is to journal. Take 5 minutes for a free flow – write down whatever comes up in your mind, and gently release it from your mind onto paper. If you’re not the writer, try to come up with a gratitude list and write down only 5 or 10 things you can be grateful for. Gratitude helps shift your focus from what is missing to what you have in your life and be thankful for.
2. Listen To Your Body
Coming back to the pushing through we normally do, I would like to remind you that rest is productive as well. Breaks are needed. Rest is needed.
We have entered a new season -fall/winter. During this season, it’s time to retreat within, to reflect, to rest and to listen to your mind & body. It’s the time of the year to nestle and spend time at home, to go inward. Animals hibernate, as we need to take more rest and sleep more, too. It’s how our natural rhythms work.
So next time you feel tired, drained or burnt out, take a moment to listen to your body. Don’t feel guilty for resting or taking a nap. It’s not selfish, on the contrary: if you don’t feel well, how can you be there for others?
Starting out with the basics – fuelling your body with the right nutrients, drinking enough of water and getting enough sleep (7-9 hours), can do wonders for your general health & wellbeing, thus influences how you feel, too.
I’ve never been the type to work out or even move daily, but since this year (and lockdown), I’ve realised that movement is medicine. In the morning, gentle stretches or morning yoga help me tune in with myself and wake up my body. In the evening, I love to relax my muscles and gentle prepare my body for a good night rest with some restorative yoga. Everyone’s body is different, so take a moment to notice what your body needs, and pick a movement you enjoy doing – it can be as simple as waking. Setting an intention – to relax, energise or restore – helps in having a successful session.
Breathwork can work miracles. A session of energising breathing exercises (breathing in for 6, breathing out for 2), kicks in better than a morning expresso. On the other hand, whenever you feel all over the place and in need of focus, the box breathing, often used by athletes to heighten concentration and performance, works its magic: breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4, and old for 4. Repeat as many times as necessary. And lastly, to help you relax and calm down: the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. Breathe in for 4, hold for 7 and breathe out for 8.
3. reach out to close & loved ones
More than ever, social contact is important. We need to remind ourselves that social distance doesn’t mean emotional distance.
If you’re separated from most of your friends and family and you live abroad like I do, try to schedule video calls with the family, digital dates with your BFF and regularly check in with each others simply by sending a quick text.
If you can still see your close & loved ones, enjoy the quality time you can have with them as much as you can. It’s important to cultivate meaningful relationships, and maintaining them is equally as important, if not more important. Try out fun things to do on a date, head out for your favourite food or go on a Christmas shopping spree. I personally love to spoil people with gifts, and even if I am not sure I will be able to spend Christmas with them this year, I definitely plan on sending them the gifts in case I cannot be there. Intention is what counts, and that feeling is what people remember too.
If you can still go outside, definitely do that, too. Even a small adventure, staycation or venture out in nature can do wonders for your wellbeing, whether you’re alone or can have some company.
4. rituals & routines
One thing I have learned through the year, is: when all is uncertain, create your own certainty. Hold on to that certainty and let it grow you.
Creating nourishing routines & rituals helps you stay grounded. When you wake up, what is the first thing you do? Let’s say it’s grabbing your phone and checking in with the online world. Is that a routine that makes you feel good, or not?
I’m not the one who is telling you whether a routine, habit or ritual Is good for you or not. I am the person who gently reminds you to be mindful of what you do, speak, eat, and consume. They all have an influence on your mind and body. Starting your morning the right way launches a beautiful day. Ending your day the right way allows you to relax and rest, no matter what happened during the day.
Some mindful moments I picked up after a year of working from home and navigating through challenging times, are:
- Drinking a glass of water
- Morning stretches or yoga to wake up my body
- Write a gratitude list/free flow journalling
- Get ready
- Check phone
Whenever I wake up not so great, I know that after stretching or after meditating, I feel so much better. Routines are there to help us create certainty in our lives, no matter what uncertainties are taking place beyond our control.
When I finish my day, I make sure to do some restorative, relaxing yoga, watch my favourite show or something that uplifts me, schedule in some self-care time (a face mask, mani/pedi), have a warm drink and journal about the day and do anything else that relaxes me at that time. Before I drift off, I love to put on a sleeping meditation or some natural sounds, like ocean waves.
I’ve noticed these habits shift my mood and my wellbeing so much, no matter what happens throughout the day, so I highly recommend you to think about what routine or habit serves you or you would like to start trying out. It’s those small moments that help you prepare for what’s next, whether that is a fresh day, a big presentation or a night of rest.
I genuinely hope these tips will help you navigate through a new season and perhaps a new lockdown too, whenever you are in the world. We can get through this. You can get through this. Remember to take care of yourself and fill your own cup, before you start pouring your empty while giving to others.