In the past few weeks, life has changed for a lot of us. Essential workers are working tirelessly to help all of us. Some of us have lost our jobs, while some of us just face uncertainty for what the future will look like. With this in mind, mental and emotional well-being is of great importance.
Some articles suggest that it is not time for self-improvement. Part of me agrees this may not be the appropriate time to start working out at home because you finally have time. It may not be the proper time to start a diet or a dramatic lifestyle change. This is because our emotions are EVERYWHERE right now. This pandemic, COVID-19, can be a traumatic event for many. Some of us won’t even realize the impacts it has on our mental and emotional self because we are able to stay busy and moving. Don’t let your body and mind fool you, this will affect us all.
Don’t worry it’s not all doom and gloom.
The reason they advise against these self-improvement projects is that most of us will start this as a way to stay busy. We will hop in, thinking that we finally have the time to focus on ourselves; and we do. However, we need to take the time to acknowledge our emotions, which can be hard for a lot of people. There will be days that you’ll stuff your face with junk food, I know I have. Days that you can’t bring yourself to get out of your bed. Days that you’re motivated and ready to go, and days when you’re grumpy and moody (also me). All of those emotions and days are OK. Let them happen, acknowledge how you feel, how your body feels.
I won’t tell you not to dwell on it. I have days when I dwell, where it’s a little harder to stay positive. What works for one is not what works for someone else. However, I will share what I have been learning. Yoga has been a grounding point for me during this time. Over the past few weeks, I have continued my education by taking a course: yoga and expressive arts therapy. And by no means am I an expert on the subject. However, I have learned that yoga can have a positive effect on the body and mind. Yoga helps people move their bodies into the present instead of staying stuck in the past. It also teaches us that things come to an end. That each pose, even if it is slightly uncomfortable, will come to an end. Yoga has been shown to have positive effects on people who have suffered trauma. I know for myself, this is a very traumatic time. I haven't hugged my parents in over 3 weeks, I'm no longer allowed to visit my sister because she works in our healthcare system, I can't see my grandparents for fear of infecting them. My whole life has been turned upside down. So I've come to regard yoga as a way to work through this unbearable time. We’ve been thrown out of routine, we’re uncertain and scared. However, I hold out hope that our current world state will pass. That we won’t always live with this type of fear.
Since I've started my yoga practice my reasons for starting have shifted. At first, I wanted to become more mindful and flexible. Now I practice yoga to develop how I respond to situations. I practice yoga so that I can manage the stress and anxiety my body bottles inside. I also practice so that I can be more mindful, grateful and more aware of how I feel.
For the time being, I am focused on how my body feels in different poses. The goal is to work through the poses and bring different intentions each time. This is why I have been following Yoga with Adriene’s series HOME. It doesn’t focus too much on meditation, but instead on flowing through movements. Sometimes I have a tough time staying still, so knowing the pose will change helps me ground myself and stay focused. Using yoga in this capacity can help you develop tools to help with stress and anxiety. I have learned some breathing exercises that I have been using more regularly. I have learned how to ground myself, whether sitting or standing. And I have learned how to take an inventory of where I am holding onto my stress, all while making myself stronger.
Yoga may not be your “thing” and that’s OK, but try to do things that bring you JOY during this time of uncertainty. For example, I’ve been painting and staying creative to feed my soul. I've been doing home workouts because pushing myself physically brings me joy and it also burns extra energy. I've been trying new recipes and eating things that nourish my body as well as bring me happiness (chocolate). I've also watched movies that make me happy, I've sung, had dance parties, PJ days, chats with friends, home spa days, and cleaned the house. What works for me may not work for you; but, I encourage you to find things that bring you joy. Not only to feed your soul but to keep you sane.