I debated back and forth what the best learnings have been for the year that was 2020. Do I even need some learnings? I’ve joked about it with friends, attended meditation workshops and have summarised it into one word on a few occasions. There’s been a lot of lessons and then, there was a pandemic and we’ve all had to stay home for a bit.
We click onto the news and the numbers are rising each day and it comes as a welcome distraction to the work we need to do and reflections that are inevitable as we approach the end of a new year.
As we close off 2020 with a full moon, another lockdown (in Ireland) and a call to sit with ourselves some more, I ventured out of my usual journals to share my learnings from the year that I will for sure carry into 2021 with me. Note that Rome wasn’t built in a day and so, if you’re having trouble putting your finger on your reflections from the year – that’s okay too. Taking a breath to celebrate how freaking far we’ve come is needed too.
It’s a cliche, I say it all the time and it’s been more true than ever this year that indeed, you become like the people you spend the most time with. This applies to work, friendships, family, romance & hobbies. Naturally, you will be impacted by their beliefs, mannerisms, talk and world views. Thankfully, I’ve experienced more time and connection with those I love this year AND have recognised the toxic influences around me and cut them loose. Your energy is valuable and easily influenced so be clear on what that looks like.
Slowing down is a good thing. Two weeks ago, after cutting my finger open on a brass edge, I wrapped it up and carried on with my work that day. To quote my sister ‘that’s so June’ meaning I don’t naturally stop to take things in and so, I’ve continued to be mindful of 2020’s need to stop and just be (with pain or not). Sit and be okay with it.
People are accountable for their own behaviour. With so much going on, it can feel acceptable to make excuses for other people and their poor actions. Actually, whatever is happening, those around us are responsible for their ways and you’re allowed to set a standard of what that should be in your life and brought to your doorstep. If it doesn’t work, boundary-up.
It’s okay to do a U-turn on what you thought you wanted and admit that to those around you. Vulnerability is a scary feel and indeed, leaves you open to a lot of criticism. You know what’s worse though? Sitting in a situation you’re unhappy with just because you said you’d do it. Be clear on your intentions for 2021 as you allow yourself to be guided.
It’s okay not to be okay. Again, we know this and I’ve posted about it quite a bit. Our mental health is going to have its ups and downs on a normal year – nevermind a weird year like 2020. Show up for yourself, your emotions and be yourself in whatever situation that might be. I promise it will pass faster if you allow it to just be.
There’s so much more I could post about and that you could add to the list, right? My advice to you is to look back and celebrate your growth and allow that to be a stepping stone into a new year. No, we’re not going to magical have everything solved as we venture into 2021. We are however marking a milestone that won’t be here again.
Tread ever so carefully and mind yourselves this new year.
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.
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).