Right now more than ever, we may be struggling with feeling like we are out of control. At least where I live, we have been under stay-at-home orders for a while now. I haven’t been able to see my family, friends or my co-workers for almost 6 weeks. I am working from home, eating at home, spending my weekends at home, remaining six feet away from most other humans, and even limiting how much I am going out to the few places we can still go like grocery stores just to minimize any risk. Most of the time, honestly though, I am pretty ok. I am staying plenty busy with work throughout the week and on the weekends, I have really tried to be productive by cleaning, organizing and fixing up my house, studying for my upcoming exam and of course I am staying consistent with my workouts and nutrition. But I have had moments where the isolation does gets to me. There are times it just seems too quiet around here and almost like the walls are closing in. In those moments, I quickly remind myself that while I can’t control everything that is happening around me, I still do have the power to control a whole heck of a lot.
So today I wanted to share some of things I focus on when the uncertainty of these times and maybe a little claustrophobia starts to creep. I make a conscious effort to shift my focus from dwelling on what I don’t have the power to dictate to what I do, such as:
I can decide to be positive or negative. I remind myself this too shall pass and life will get back to normal. Dwelling on all the things we can’t do right now doesn’t make anything better. I am busy making plans for when we are able to roam around freely again which gives me positive goals to focus on and steps to take right now to achieve those goals. I made a pact with myself when this all started that I was going to remain positive, focused, and driven. Having a positive mindset allows my energy levels and confidence to stay highly, helps me to be more productive at work and makes me an easier and more pleasant person to deal with in all of my relationships…besides being negative in my opinion can just be flat out draining! SMILE you guys, the world needs as much positivity and joy as we can radiate right now!
My physical health
I decide every single day to move my body. I either do my home workouts, go for a long walk with my pups or a run in my neighborhood, or a combo of all the above. Staying healthy has never been more important you guys. Help your immune system out and try to be active for at least 30 minutes a day (for more info on helping out our immune systems, check out my recent post, “Staying Healthy…How can we help our immune systems right now?” If you can get outside, even better! Get some steps in, your heart rate up and as a bonus get a healthy dose of Vitamin D while you are at it! Not only is this so important for your physical well-being, but I find the positive effects it has on my mental well-being might be even more valuable right now! Just the change of scenery alone does wonders for my frame of mind each day!
What I eat
I have made a conscious decision to stock my fridge, freezer and pantry with 90% healthy food and 10% treat food. I find if I set myself up for success by limiting how much junk food I have access to I am far more successful in meeting my nutritional goals. Plus, I continue to make it a point to have my daily Superfood Shake which again goes a long was in supporting my immune system and filing in all those nutritional holes I might be otherwise lacking in my every day diet. One of the silver linings to this time at home is I have been exploring a lot of new recipes (I am working on getting the good ones them up on this site shortly!) and have really been enjoying the process of cooking. I am exploring yummy new ways to cook with some of my favorite healthy ingredients, like the lasagna I made with cauliflower yesterday, and as a bonus I am finding cooking to be a really great stress-relieving activity for me and something that brings a really nice sense of calm into my life right now. I would call that a WIN WIN!
My effort levels
This could be effort that I am putting into taking care of myself, or effort I am putting into my job, my relationships, or a many number of other things. What is important to focus on is knowing I have complete control over how much of my energy I am delegating and to what I am putting it into. I am a firm believer that life gives you back what you give it. If you give it 100% you will see amazing results. If you give it less, you really can’t be disappointed when you get less back. I am continuing to focus my efforts as much as possible on bettering myself during this time so again when we come out the other side, I am stronger and in a better place than when we went into it.
My mental health
While I know we can’t always control how our brains react to things, there are ways I can try to promote a healthy mental state. I have been making it a point to practice at least 15-20 minutes of yoga or Pilates each day which has really been helping me to slow down my mind and stay present in the moment more. I also know when I start to feel overwhelmed or anxiety creeping in it is a good time to pickup the phone and talk to a family member or friend. Getting outside each day for about an hour has also done wonders to keep my head clear and in a good place. Besides, it always makes me happy and puts an actual smile on my face to see how much my dogs are loving our new, longer daily walks!
How often I practice self-care
Supporting my mental health also means indulging in some self care every so often. I have made it a point to take a much-needed Epsom salt bath at least once a week these days which does wonders not only to relax me but also to help my sore muscles recover after the workouts I am subjecting them to. I also have been de-cluttering and organizing my house a lot which may sound weird for a self-care practice but has made me feel a ton better about my surroundings and also happy that I am using my time productively. Self-care isn’t selfish you guys. You need to take care of yourself before you can even begin to think about taking care of others. That old saying really is true, you cannot pour from an empty cup!
How thankful I am
I remind myself constantly about how thankful I am for things like my health and the health of my friends and family, but I also make it a point to tell other people that I am thankful for them. I usually am pretty good with “Please” and “Thanks You’s” but I am particularly aware of some of the sacrifices people are making right now to keep things going for us. I am talking about the store clerks, delivery drivers and especially the healthcare workers who are going above and beyond right now and are on the front lines of this pandemic. I am trying to say an extra loud THANK YOU to all these people when I do interact with them as their sacrifice is not lost on me at all.
My anxiety has improved dramatically over the last two years since I committed to staying on top of my fitness and nutrition, but it is only natural that in the crazy times we are living through right now anxiety levels would be slightly more elevated than normal. I have really come to rely on controlling my breath when anxiety starts to creep in these days. As soon as I feel even a little twinge of being overwhelmed, I make a conscious effort to stop what I am doing and take a few deep, cleansing breaths. Almost instantly, I feel much calmer and more centered. Breathe in, breathe out and focus on just being in the moment until your mind calms down.
What I put my time into
I made a very deliberate decision that while I was spending so much time at home, I would seriously limit screen time. While I am normally not a big TV watcher, I knew with the extra time on my hands it would be easy to fall into a bad habit of turning it on and losing hours of my life in front of it. Instead I made up my mind to put my energy into doing things that would get me close to my goals once this whole thing is over. I am studying, writing, reading even doing puzzles instead of watching TV and of course staying as physically active as possible.
What I do if at first I don’t succeed
Failure is part of life you all. No one is perfect and honestly it would be a little boring if we were. I fail constantly. I failed a million times before I found a workout program that clicked for me. I failed a bunch of times trying to find a healthy relationship with food. I have failed in my inner-personal relationships, at work, in school but my mindset has really grown to accept these failures as learning experiences. If I can come out the other side of a failure having grown as a person, it really isn’t a failure at all. Now I put my all into everything I attempt and if I succeed great, if I don’t, I learn. Just fail forward you guys, don’t beat yourselves up too much and keep on trucking towards whatever goal you have in sight!
Who and what influences me
Unfortunately not everyone is going to be your cheerleader. I have definitely come across people since I have started on my health and fitness journey that just don’t understand what I’m doing or why I am doing it. They haven’t necessarily been working against me, just not exactly for me. These are the people I try to encourage to join me in some fashion, either in doing a virtual workout with me or trying one of my healthy recipes that have become a staple of my meal plan or even by giving them a packet of my superfood shake to try for themselves. If they don’t bite, I smile, tell them I am always here if they change their minds and go about chasing after my own goals. After all, I am not doing this for anyone else. This journey is about me and for me. I hope to be able to inspire others along the way but I don’t take it personally if I can’t reach everyone!
How open I am to learning
A big part of growing up, is learning that you really never stop learning. Over the past couple years especially, I have been so open to learning as much as I can about as many things as I can, and I have been loving every second of it! I don’t know about you all, but as a teenager and really well into my twenties…ok ok, maybe even my 30’s, I was pretty convinced I had everything all figured out. I was going to do things my way no matter how many people, facts, or signs life was giving me telling me I was wrong. But since I humbled myself enough about two years ago to realize I needed to do a ton of research to figure out how to best live a healthy lifestyle, I have fallen back in love with learning and take every opportunity I can to expand my mind. One of the mantras I now live by is, never stop learning!
How often I ask for and accept help
We all need it sometimes. And there is no shame in that at all. This was also another hard lesson I had to learn probably because I am too stubborn for my own good most of the time and like to be able to do everything myself, but that is just not real life. Whether it’s that we just need some emotional support, someone to talk to, a helping hand with a work problem, or a relationship issue, or something more tangible like help moving or changing a tire, there is no shame in being a little vulnerable every now and then. Instead of seeing this as a sign of weakness like many of us for some reason might, we should see this as the incredible sign of strength that it is. Be open to both giving and receiving help and I bet you will find fulfillment in both!
One other thing I am controlling these days is how much I watch/listen to the news. I find it to be pretty negative if not down right scary a lot of the time so I choose to tune most of it out because I know if there is something major I need to find out a friend or family member will let me know what’s going on anyway. Along with limiting exposure to potentially alarming information and the things I already listed above, there are a ton of other things I can also control such as how neat my home is, how many times I call my family and friends to check in on them, how honest I am with myself and others, how many times a day I smile 😊, how I am spending my money, how open and non-judgmental I am, and that’s just to name a few! Things happen you guys. We can’t always avoid bad situations or prevent negative events from occurring but where our control lies is in how we react to these things. Do we give negative feelings, emotions, events and even people our time and energy, or do we shift our focus to either learning from these negative sources and growing because of them or ignoring them altogether and finding instead something positive to focus on. Take control where you can, use it to improve your own life and keep looking and moving forward…after all that is this the direction life is taking us so lets make it the best, happiest and most fulfilling ride possible!
Keep staying healthy and safe you guys!!