There have been a lot of changes at the end of 2020 coming into 2021, and I thought it would be a good time to give an update on what’s been going on in my life. It has been a stressful time. Our area went into lockdown, and we can only go out for essential trips (ex. groceries, pharmacy, work). I’ve been at home with my son doing e-learning. He gets on the computer every day to do virtual learning with his teachers and classmates. It’s been very interesting and e-learning has its challenges. My son’s teachers are awesome and they are doing everything they can to make the experience interactive, engage with the students, and keep them learning. It is a lot of time dedicated to his schooling and a lot screen time. My son is 5, so he is also very energetic, so I’ve been very busy trying to keep up with everything.
There has been a lot of uncertainty with the pandemic and not knowing what is coming next. We don’t know whether the schools will re-open at the beginning of February or if the closures will continue. I suspect that the closures will continue, but we’ll have to wait and see.
It has been a difficult time. It’s been hard to keep up with the household and keep up with my own activities and self-care. With the lockdown, the gyms closed so I haven’t been able to keep up my usual fitness routine. I’ve been doing my best to work exercise into our day at the house.
I’ve been sick on and off, so that has been difficult as well. Being sick has had my asthma symptoms flaring up, so that has been frustrating and stressful.
I will continue to film, edit, write blog posts, and put out content. I’m hoping to be able to continue putting out two videos per week, but it may be one video per week for a while depending on how things go. It is important to me to put out fun, interesting, and hopefully helpful content that can help you on your plant-based journey. I also like to share my journey to show you that living a plant-based lifestyle can be simple and fun. I think it’s important to also share my struggles and stresses. Maybe you can relate to what I’ve been going through. If so, know that you’re not alone. We’re all doing the best we can in a highly unusual and stressful time! I’ve recently refocused on self-care to improve my current situation as much as possible.
Self-care is a daily practice. As an example, I don’t think of self-care as a pedicure on the weekend. Don’t get me wrong, pedicures can be a fun thing to go out and do from time to time (when we’re not in pandemic mode), but I really think of self-care as daily rituals to make myself feel more like myself. I have 5 self-care strategies that have been helpful to me with all of the stress and uncertainty of pandemic life. I hope you find these tips useful too!
1. Breathe – calm and re-centre
We obviously breathe all the time without even thinking about it. Bringing awareness to my breathing has been really helpful in allowing me to breathe more deeply, improve my asthma, and release tension in my body. I carry a lot of tension in my neck, shoulders, chest, and back. It almost seems as if I forget to breathe sometimes. I like to stop, close my eyes and take a few deep breaths to calm and re-centre throughout the day (especially in a stressful moment or if something unexpected comes up). I also like to tense my muscles and relax them to release tension. I find that taking a moment to breathe and release tension can bring more peace and calm into my day. Focusing on my breath also allows me to have more patience and feel more at ease.
2. Make a list – prioritize what is truly important
I love lists! I make lists all the time and I find them really helpful in getting things done throughout the days and weeks. However, looking at a long to-do list can be overwhelming, especially when things don’t get checked off the list. Before making my lists, I think about what my TOP priorities are. Some of my top priorities include: family, laughter, eating healthily, and doing physical activity. I’ve also gotten into the habit of asking myself a few questions before making a list:
- What are my top priorities for the day?
- Is there anything that urgently needs to get done today?
- What can I let go of (today, this week, or permanently)?
- What do I need to do for myself today to feel like myself?
Making lists and prioritizing in this way have helped me bring clarity to what is truly important. This isn’t to say that my lists are perfect and that everything gets done 100% of the time. However, my list-making is more reasonable and I’m able to check things off my lists more often and feel good about it.
3. Do something that brings you joy
I have started to make it a priority to find little bits of time for myself throughout the day to do something that brings me joy. I find joy in many things, but it could look like practicing yoga, dancing, doing calisthenics, reading, or writing. I’ve also made a point to pause and really appreciate the fun moments with my kiddo. We like to do yoga, read, spend time outside, sing, and have dance parties together!
Maybe what brings you joy looks completely different than what brings me joy. Maybe it’s making art or doing another creative pursuit, or maybe it’s playing video games, knitting, or any number of other things. Do whatever it is that brings you joy! Remind yourself to enjoy life and carve out little bits of time to do things that you love to do!
4. Do something different or try something new to break up the day
I started to feel as if every day was exactly the same. I was living in my pyjamas every day and felt sluggish and stressed out. I decided I needed to shake things up and do different things throughout the day to break up the days and weeks. I taught my son how to do burpees to get some energy out, and we’ve been having fun doing burpees together. (I completely understand if doing burpees sounds like hell to you, but it is super fun for us.) We’ve been switching out our board games so that we have “new” ones to try, coming up with new games to play, and testing new recipes together. Trying new things has helped us bring more enjoyment and novelty to our days.
5. Ask for help / seek support
This one might sound common sense, but I’m not always good at asking for help. I often don’t realize I even need help until I’m overwhelmed by everything going on in my life and in the world. I often think things like: “I can handle it” “it’s ok” “it’s not that bad” “other people have much more difficult situations” “I’m grateful for my health and family, so I can’t feel stressed about my situation.” I think I’m superwoman and try to take on everything and juggle everything at once and end up completely burnt out. I’ve gotten better with recognizing when I need help, and asking for support. However, it’s still something I’m working on. My husband Chris is amazing, and I recently asked him for more help around the house. He’s very supportive and has jumped in to help me out. We’ve also had good talks about how we’ve both been feeling lately. I’ve been teaching Ryerden new things and having him help out more as well. We’ve been cooking, folding laundry, and tidying up together. We turn chores into a game so that it’s fun and we’re being playful, but still getting things done around the house. There are many ways to reach out and find support whether it is talking to a friend or family member, or connecting with others online.
An important note about asking for help: If you’re feeling anxiety or depression, and feel unable to cope, reach out and speak to someone about what you’re going through. Seek professional medical help, look into online resources, and get the help you need. It’s very important to address any mental health issue as you would a physical health issue. Whether it is mind or body, if you’re having a health problem, seek assistance. I have dealt with anxiety and depression in the past, and I have gone to doctors and taken medication to help. There is no shame in seeking support. Do what you need to do to improve your current situation and turn things around.
Focusing on these self-care habits daily has helped me feel better. I have felt:
- more balanced and stable
Most importantly, I have felt more like myself.
Self-care is a practice. It’s not perfect, and it’s something I’m continuously working on and figuring out, especially as things shift with the pandemic. Guidelines and rules change, our routines and schedules shift, and it can be difficult to adapt. All we can do is our best. I hope you enjoyed this post and that my self-care tips were helpful to you. As always, do what works for you. Take from this post what resonates with you and leave aside anything that doesn’t fit into your life. Be kind to yourself. Stay safe, stay healthy, and reach out for help and support if you need it.