The covid pandemic has put a spotlight on our lives like a magnifying glass to an ant. Everything that wasn't working became ever more apparent. In the beginning I struggled a lot with the isolation of being in my house. Even though I work from home and spend countless hours alone making jewelry in a normal week, when you feel like the whole world is collapsing around you nothing seems normal. I found myself feeling like my art didn’t matter. One of the hardest things to hear was everyone expected me to be OK because I’m so used to working alone. I know a lot of creative‘s were struggling just the same if not more than the rest. The thing with working alone at home is that I was getting my social outlets outside of my house. Those outlets that let me get out of my head then come back with fresh eyes to the projects I was working on. Without my social outlets I felt like every creative juice was drained and I had no purpose.
I’ve gone through so many emotional up and downs through the last year so I wanted to share some of the things that have been working that have been improving my mood. It has taken me a lot of self reflection but I feel as if I've finally found the light at the end of the tunnel with my self confidence and internal happiness. These 7 things won't be for everyone but i hope that it may help anyone else that might be struggling out there.
1. Try something new
When the whole pandemic hit I have to admit I thought it was bullshit when the trending thing to say was try something you always wanted to do but never had time before. Start a yoga practice and meditate, bake bread, start a vegetable garden, etc. etc. I’m pretty sure those common answers are more what people had in mind for starting something new. I also believe there are no wrong answers, so the thing that I’ve been putting off learning to do was scuba diving. Pretty unrealistic thing to do during a pandemic considering everything was closed but I’m not sure when I would’ve gotten around to signing up for my open water course had this pandemic not happened. Mostly during lock down I was only able to complete all of the online theory but it gave me something to look forward to once the beaches were open again. I’ve noticed for most things in my life to be motivated I need a goal to work towards. So having a class with the hope of doing something fun at the end was well worth it! Same thing goes for when I did go and hike Everest base camp. When i first heard about this trip I didn't think I was the person that could do something like that. However immediately I was like well wait a minute why can't I? This thought of why not thrust me into a new daily workout routine because I had a goal I wanted to work towards. Now with scuba diving I feel like I finally found that hobby I love more than anything else and a thing to look forward to! Your new thing could be anything and you won't know what sticks until you try it. So keep trying things until you find something that makes you feel alive.
2. Put down your phone!
It’s crazy how much we use our phones to feel connected but it usually makes me feel more lonely and disconnected from all the things that really matter. Our phones are trained to be a big distraction, with games, videos, news and targeted ads everything you do on your phone these days is designed to keep you on it longer. Those moments that you are with a live human put down your phone entirely. Be present for the conversations and interactions of those around you. Use your phone only to show a photo of something that will add to a story you are already talking about instead of letting your phone guide the conversation. I have noticed my mental health is actually much better when I have less screen time. I had to disconnect from the news of what’s going on in the world and take myself out of a lot of group chats. I removed myself from anything that would start or add to my own paranoia and depression. Ignorance is bliss as sad as that is to say in some situations. If your mental health isn’t doing well though then you do not need to be looking at things that are going to continue to bring you down. If looking at those Instagram models is making you feel bad about your own body, unfollow those people. More of the things that make you feel better less of the things that don't.
3. Get outside & Move your body
Being locked inside so much especially when you are working in front of a computer is so hard on your body. I always feel it when I’m working on jewelry too much, I feel stiff, don't sleep as well and overall uncomfortable the days that I don’t end up stretching. Fresh air is magical, even if it’s a walk around the block I always feel more refreshed than if I had sat in front of the computer all day. It can be super overwhelming comparing yourself to others and not being at your fitness goals right away. However If you want to start to run the first step is just to put on your shoes. The first step is always the hardest so even if it’s putting your yoga mat out and stretching for two minutes that’s still better than if you hadn’t done it at all. If you keep doing this and just going a little farther or longer each time you’ll get to where you want to go. Change doesn’t happen overnight, celebrate the little wins and be nice to yourself.
4. Get lost in a book
One of my best subscriptions in the last two years has been my audible account. I pretty much have an audiobook running 24/7 in my house these days. As some people listen to music all the time I listen to fantastical worlds and adventure stories. I find that even while I’m doing the dishes listening to an audiobook takes my mind off other things that might be bothering me. I understand audiobooks aren’t for everyone but the idea is the same, take some time to sit down and read. I find that in this day and age though we’ve become masters of multitasking and this is one of my favorite ways to do it. One of the best things about the audible account is that if you really don’t like one of the books that you purchased you can exchange it for another title. They say specifically in their terms that they want your entire library to be filled with books that you love. Yay audible! Finding the right book can be hard sometimes so to help me find the good ones I also signed up for the good reads newsletter. So every morning i have new suggestions right in my inbox! It's a magical combination.
5. Let it go!
This is probably the hardest ones and something I've been working on for a very long time. Relationships with people are hard no matter if it's family, friends or significant others. A lot of this one goes with letting go of expectations. When you have an expectation and that expectation is not met that's usually when we feel hurt or resentful. We have to remember that how we deal with issues is different than how someone else might handle the same situation. Don't be passive aggressive on something that is bothering you, communicate the issue, don't hold on to it with resentment. If someone you went on a date with for example isn't texting you back let it go. Same goes with friends that end up ghosting you, this isn't something you can control and they haven't been able to talk to you about it and there's nothing you can do about it so you have to let it go. Mottos I’ve had this year have included why do you wanna be friends with someone that doesn’t want to be friends with you. Why do you want to date a guy that doesn’t want to text you back? They don’t like you or aren't ready to talk to you. Focus on the people that do want to hang out with you, that do text you back. People that make you feel better about yourself than the ones that put you down. Do these people make you feel like the best version of yourself? It's not his or her responsibility to make you a better person but when you are around positive relationships this happens naturally.
6. Sleep Well
Sleep is so important for our bodies and minds. There’s nothing worse than having a poor night's sleep and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about not sleeping well. I realized I do sleep better by getting less screen time before bed. This means changing my habits from watching TV or scrolling through Instagram right before I go to sleep. I’ve also turned on the bedtime app on my iPhone which is absolutely amazing. Having all of my messages paused for eight hours has stopped me getting woken up at all hours of the night when I finally am asleep. It has lovely reminders of when you should go to sleep based on when you want to wake up to get eight hours of sleep. It can tell you when you should start getting ready for bed and winding down in bed so start positive sleeping habits. So while I am doing my wind down I’ll turn on an audiobook to listen to that instead of scrolling through facebook or playing a game. I’ll put that on a sleep timer and close my eyes, usually before the first timer of 30 minutes has gone off I have passed out. Leaving me well rested and ready to wake up and start a new day with ease.
7. Talk to a Therapist
It took years of people talking to me about how good therapy can be. This is something I had to hear over and over again before being open to trying it, but boy I am glad I did. There’s nothing better than being able to offload anything on your mind and say out loud to someone that’s outside of your circle, never judges you and has your best interest at heart. If you’ve never had a therapist or counselor before and expect it to be like “how does that make you feel” like you see in the movies this isn’t necessarily the case. I’m sure some counselors might be like that and maybe that’s what you need, but each person has a different counseling style as well. The first person I was matched up with wasn’t working for me at all and I think the hardest part about finding someone to talk to is finding the right person to talk to. Someone that can give you advice in a style that makes you feel safe. I was fortunate enough to find an amazing woman online through betterhelp.com who I feel comfortable with and can point me in the right directions.I wish I could say these are the seven easy steps to happiness but these are just some of the things that have helped me. I look at everything that has happened in my life, good and bad especially the bad as learning experiences. I wouldn't be who I am today if I didn't go through all the things in my life that led me to this point. There are so many beautiful things and people in this world but you have to go through all the hard stuff too. When you can take a step back to look at it like what is this trying to teach me? or how can I handle a situation like this better? When you do come out the other end and look back on those situations, stay positive! How has your life changed for the better since then? For me I look back at the hard stuff and realize I wouldn't be making the better decisions for me now had that stuff not happened. If there’s one take away you get from reading this it’s to not be so hard on yourself. We are all learning and growing. Make the most of each day and treat each day like it’s your last dont waste time on things that aren't serving your needs.