Category Archives: sometimes wellbeing

Lessons Learned in Lockdown 2021

It’s been referred to in several different ways and has shown that indeed, life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans. Who’d have known that those other plans would be almost a year of navigating through some form of lockdown while observing a Global Pandemic unfolding around us.

Oh my, the amount of hobbies that could be partaken in over 2020 has been quite the list. Indeed, this being described as a time of some of the world’s greatest creativity will come to the fore is an understatement. There has been an increase in the amount of reading, painting and of course, physical fitness. Not to mention the largest abundance of banana bread the world has seen in its history. For sure, there aren’t many deficits of potassium in Ireland’s population in 2021.

On the other hand, this has been a massive time of uncertainty. We’ve seen an increase in job losses, businesses closing and people’s mental health is on the floor. We’ve needed to find ways to build ourselves up, go back to basics and challenge the status quo when it comes to getting our fixes of joy, distraction and stimulants that would otherwise be so easy to access. When a tough day comes along, rather than meeting a friend for a coffee, we’re in the boat of sitting with our feelings, turning to Netflix, another Zoom call or a glass of red wine to ease the anxiety. This has at least been part of my experience and has been one for the archives in terms of reflections and flexing my resilience muscles.

February 2021 has arrived, we’re halfway through and the thoughts of getting back to our new normal is closer than ever. That taste of sweet sweet freedom is teased with some socially distanced walks, chats on Tinder and take-away on a Friday night. Match that with staying virtually connected to those we love, identifying what fills our buckets and what really matters, it isn’t so hard – some days at least.

Over the past year, I’ve been fortunate like many to have a lot of learnings and reflections from this lockdown world. Those have been from handling personal situations, moving home and rediscovering hobbies and areas of interest once forgotten.

Firstly, a gratitude attitude has been necessary to navigate through this lockdown. It’s said regularly and is so relevant however being grateful that indeed, I can work from home, have a job, have some family nearby & don’t have a weak immune system have been some of what I’ve been grateful for. Gratitude is proven to strengthen our mindsets which has been ever so important. Writing 3-10 things each morning & night of what you’re grateful for can support a bunch. Getting a notebook dedicated to that can help too.

Secondly, an acceptance of ‘what is’ has been imperative. It can be tempting to think of the ‘what if’ scenarios and run down memory lane with those especially when left with our thoughts. There is nothing wrong with this so don’t berate yourself if you do this. What I will say is that giving yourself the permission to day dream can actually help – just don’t get stuck there. Grounding techniques to allow for acceptance can support so much with this and help with any anxiety caused from the Pandemic or not being where you thought you would. Ideas include meditation and cold showers (yes, I mean it).

The smell of regret can sneak its way in at any stage of life. The ‘I wish I had’ gone to more restaurants, had more dates, travelled the world type scenarios tend to run rampant throughout the minds of lock-downers. Whatever you’re at, know that you’ve always done the best you can from the place you were at. Channeling the regrets or thoughts of what you could’ve done more of would be best served on a list of ‘Post-lockdown ideas’ to support you on your journey.

‘Staying positive’, being told to be positive or indeed telling anyone that they ‘should be positive’ is toxic. We’re not here to tell others how or what they should feel – that includes ourselves. Aim instead to be optimistic. Feel the way you feel, allows other to do the same & identify how to work through those feelings. From there, be ready to be optimistic. Know that this too shall pass and feeling every part of it is inevitable – however you choose to do it.

Feel free to share any tips or tricks as you navigate through this weird world. See you on the other side of it.

Wintering In Weirdness, 2020

Moving swiftly through Autumn & into Winter, buzzwords that usually emanate are ‘Hygge’, ‘Hot chocolate’ & talk of New year’s plans after a family Christmas are commonplace. Navigating through 2020 & it’s unlikely that we’ll have the usual shindigs, wearing sparkly tops down to the local night clubs on Christmas eve or certainly, getting together with as many friends as we’d like. We’ll perhaps buy a few extra tins of roses & will ensure the Zoom calls are scheduled to catch up with far flung family. Oh indeed, it will be one to remember.

Navigating through this colder weather, shorter evenings & a seasonal change, our habits will need to change. We’re not likely to spend our winter on the balcony as much as we did during the summer & we’ll likely be seeking out indoor hobbies that we started in July and forgot about. That scarf you started knitting mid quarantine? Yeah, you’re going to need that.

Chatting to my sister last week, her advice of stocking up on the highest dose of vitamin D was a good one. I had this fear of lack of sun & being hit with a bout of sadness due to a deficit in this sunshine. Meanwhile, I stopped into Ikea to stock up on lamps, blankets & candles that like the Snow Patrol song goes, we can ‘light up light up as if we have the choice’ (you get the gist, right?).

Being a winter fan, I’ll have Frank Sinatra on full blast while making a beautiful stew and cuddling my sister’s adopted cat. I’ll keep the smile bright & connect with friends each day.

It’s normal to anticipate that well, we may find this winter a bit trickier than previous ones & so, we can prepare to a point so we know we’re doing all we can to mind ourselves & our beautiful minds.

Mind your diets, always. We are what we eat. I know we know this & know we need to re-highlight this especially in this climate. My ex boyfriend used to laugh as I popped cloves of garlic coated in honey when feeling run down but well, it has been shown to help with colds ( in spite of its gross taste). Filling up on vegetables, stews, herbal teas & comfort foods are as important for our bodies as well as our souls. Start thinking ahead so you stay fed people.

Be cosy in your environment. It’s absolutely fine to make your home more winter-friendly. Have some cosy blankets ready to snuggle into, brighten the place up & ensure you’ve got the heating working to the max. This seems obvious but is necessary. Something as simple as a scented candle can make a cold winter evening feel so lovely.

Know your mind & what your needs & triggers are. Yes it’s true, if your mood is lower, you may feel more easily triggered by what’s happening around you. Do you know yourself & what works for you? Be tuned into the rituals you need to partake in as you move through the winter & how those vary for the remainder of the year. Are you less likely to meditate because you need to sleep more? Are you more likely to make more excuses as you’re fond of hot whiskey?

Exercise, exercise & exercise some more. You know this, I know this & it’s so important for mental & physical well-being. It can be tempting once Summer ends, to stop exercising so much. Don’t fall into this trap. Plan your exercise routine for this winter. Don’t want to run outside? Order some gear you can use inside. Know that you’re likely to feel more stiff & bail from your exercise this winter? Awareness & preparation are key.

Occupy your mind. What do you do with your days? Know what you enjoy & if you’re not sure, go on the search. Whether you’re working or not, have multiple hobbies or are a Netflix fan, there’s something you can focus your mind on. My books are lined up, I’ll be blogging & have a subscription to yoga on a daily basis so I know I’ll be able to occupy my mind. That’s not to say it’s all figured you & don’t expect that either. What I’m saying is that having an idea of what you want to use your time for is a step in the right direction.

There isn’t a one size fits all for any routine in or out of quarantine. What I will say on the subject is that this time will feel tricky at times so giving yourself a head start of getting that figured out is part of the world of self-care.

Share your tips & thoughts in the comments below.

Medicating or meditating?

Scrolling through Jay Shetty’s Instagram with one hand & Chopra’s ‘The Shadow Effect’ in the other, I tried to give my hungover head the impression that I was super zen and had my shit together. If I’m showing up to meditate, I must have my thoughts under control & they are surely going to be clear as I move forward, correct?

Eh, no. Meditation is not a miracle for your negative thoughts, worries or indeed, anxiety. It is however an opportunity to sit & figure out the space between this busy life & your mind. During Covid times, it’s well, more important than ever.

In 2016, a lady called Hilda Carroll gave me the opportunity to ‘Come om’ with her as she launched an online course. I tried it out & was sporadic with how I applied it & partook in the meditation. I did however dip my toe & introduce my blog readers & instagram fam to this practice.

Fast forward to 2020 & I’ve become a more consistent meditator. As I’ve navigated through the Pandemic, lock down & other challenges this year, it’s been a practice that has helped me so much to make sense of happenings & relax my mind. Not to mention – processing some emotions I couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Moreover, Chopra’s 20 day abundance challenge meant that I had to hold myself accountable so I could pass forward the meditation via WhatsApp to another group. Paying it forward got me into the habit that was meditation.

During 2020, we’ve been forced to face our vices. Let’s be realistic, we (all) have them & they give us a short-term dopamine fix throughout our weeks. Whether that’s 20 Benson a day, a bottle of Pinot Grigio or binging on Ben & Jerrys’ – such fixes become crutches to lean on as ‘a treat’ or a ‘sure, it’s lockdown & we deserve it’. There’s no judgement here (I had a few glasses of vino with my dinner last night & it was divine). What I’m saying is that we have options when we’re reaching for these during moments of stress & anxiety.

The idea of meditation is about sitting with our thoughts (what thoughts they may be & whether we want them to exist or not). Meanwhile, the temptation when those thoughts get rather too hot (or tricky) to handle, is to reach for those ‘treats’. We self-medicate with a bit of vino, smoke a few cigarettes for a reprieve or stuff our faces with chocolate so we can get a hit of sugar as we watch a movie.

This week, take a look at what you’re consuming. As always, it has an impact on who you are & how you navigate through your life. The substances, food & hits feel good in the short-term, sure. But what about the medium to long-term?

Take one of those temptations and replace with some deep breathing time, a Chopra meditation or sitting in silence for ten minutes. I promise you’ll learn something new about yourself.

Here are some examples of resources (check out my Instagram for more).

Chopra

Alison Canavan

Jay Shetty

*Disclaimer – when referring to medication, this does not refer to prescribed medication. Refer to your medical practitioner in this case. Thank you!