GROW through what you GO through: Tools to help you navigate a difficult season

For so many of us this is an unprecedented time filled with questions, concerns, worries and fears.  But challenging times are also the best times to grow and evolve – to look for lessons + opportunities, and to come out on the other side stronger + better.

Today, I want to share some ideas that might help you during this unusual time. I want to give you ideas for practices, tools, and resources that you can use to  gain a fresh perspective and fill yourself with gratitude, optimism, and self-love during an otherwise difficult situation. (Side note: These tools can be accessed during any difficult season you’re going through, not just during the Coronavirus pandemic).

I’ve spent a significant amount of time in quarantine listening to podcasts and reading books on personal growth. I’ve been doing this because I can see that now, more than ever, we need to put self-care and positive thinking at the top of our list. We need to buckle down on good habits in order to help us deal with the uncertainty in a healthy and mindful way. In other words, we need to GROW through what we go through.

So, let’s get to it!  Here are my top 9 tips that you can do RIGHT NOW to help you grow through what you’re going through:

#1.  Be willing to adapt to a new routine

Many of us thrive off routine + structure and during this pandemic, many of our regular routines have been disrupted. While you may be tempted to throw up your hands and wallow on the couch, spend all day in bed, or binge Netflix for days on end, it may feel good in the short-term, but long-term these are not the habits that are going to serve you. Instead, we need to establish a new routine. Because it’s new, and because our lives have been turned upside down, I would caution you from being too rigid with your new routine. Try to find something that works for you and your family. Test it out for a few days and see how it feels, then make adjustments accordingly.  After a bit of reflection, I’ve established the following as my new daily routine:

  • Wake up between 8-9 AM (naturally, no alarm!)
  • 9 -11 AM (or 12 PM) – drink coffee, have breakfast, check social media and the news, watch some TV, journal, make a to-do list for the day, tidy the kitchen, help care for my two-year-old grandson
  • approx. 12 PM – take a walk and listen to a personal growth podcast
  • 1 PM – make myself + my grandson lunch
  • 1:30 PM-4 PM – get him settled down for a nap;  use this quiet time to get creative – writing blog content, taking notes from personal growth content I have listened to/read, creating content for my Facebook group, reading personal growth books, etc.
  • sometimes I take a nap too!  🙂
  • watch a bit of TV or check social media
  • do a few household tasks like cleaning, organizing, or laundry
  • 6-7 PM – dinner
  • After dinner – help clean-up, play a game with the family, watch TV, read, video chat with my parents/nieces
  • Bedtime – usually by 11pm – before bed I still journal + read every single night

You can see that there’s a lot of fluidity and choice in my new routine but having an idea of the layout and rhythm of my day has helped me accept this new and unexpected season of life I am in.

Also, you should be ready for unexpected changes to your routine. For example, teachers with my school board are just starting to begin a newly-implemented distant learning plan. We’re set to begin offering distant education to our students next week. Obviously, I am going to need to make tweaks to my new routine.  I think during the time of this pandemic it’s important to be ready to make unexpected changes at any time. That being said, having a routine will help bring a feeling of normalcy back to your life.

#2. Adjust your expectations of yourself + others

While we adjust to new routines, we need to be mindful of adjusting to new expectations as well.  First, consider  the expectations you’re putting on yourself. Are you feeling the pressure to use this time to re-organize and deep clean your entire house?  Are you expecting to use this time to build a new workout routine, and get in the best shape of your life?  Are you planning on using the time to start a home-based business?  While all of these ambitions are fantastic (huge shout-out to you if you’re actually going through with any of them), please remember that this is an uncertain time and you’re likely still in the adapting phase. Give yourself space to adjust to your new routine before you go too far with your expectations.

Of course, that goes for your expectations of others too.  In the first week of this quarantine, I couldn’t understand how my husband could lay on the couch day after day playing video games and watching movies. I couldn’t fathom how he wasn’t using this time to establish a new workout routine or catch up on projects around the house. Then I took a step back and realized everyone deals with situations in different ways. He’s still trying to navigate this uncertain time too. Just like I am trying to figure out what works for me, so is he. And although the things he is choosing to do aren’t necessarily the things I would choose to do, that’s ok!  We have to remember to let go of some of the expectations we put on ourselves and our loved ones, and meet each other where we are at.

#3. Focus on controlling the controllable

Admittedly, I’m a bit of a control freak. I get really uneasy if I don’t have a say in the things that impact my every day life. That being said, there’s obviously a lot of things that are out of our control right now. Instead of panicking and allowing myself to spiral, I am choosing to focus on controlling the things that I can.

The first thing I can control are my thoughts and how I react to situations. Yes, there are a lot of things we can be upset about right now but what’s important is how we react to those life changes.  Now more than ever we need to be intentionally seeking the silver lining.  Are you disappointed you had to cancel your trip? Yes, but at least your family is safe and healthy.  Are you missing friends and family?  Yes, but at least you have Internet access and video chatting so you can stay in touch.  Did you have to cancel or postpone a major life event?  Yes, but it’s only postponed – it will happen eventually.  By intentionally adopting a positive mindset, we can find the things to be grateful for even during a difficult time.  Which brings me to my next point…

#4. Finding blessings in this mess – adopting gratitude

When we focus on adopting a positive mindset and having more intentional thoughts, we change our perspective.  By changing our perspective, we can start to see the all the blessings in this mess. One of the ways you can do this is by keeping a gratitude journal. There is a ton of research out there about the benefits of gratitude and I believe that now, more than ever, we need to look for everyday blessings.  Here are some things to consider when it comes to perspective and gratitude:

  • Are you stuck at home, or are you safe at home?
  • Do you have a home you can stay in?
  • Are you getting more quality time with your family?
  • Have you been blessed with more time to accomplish little tasks or projects you’ve been meaning to get to? Or to read the book you’ve been wanting to read?  To learn a new skill you’ve been wanting to learn? Or simply to take naps in the middle of the afternoon?
  • Is your family safe, healthy, and happy right now?
  • Have you been getting outside more and enjoying milder, spring temperatures?
  • Is your pantry and refrigerator stocked with food, or do you have access to food to feed your family?
  • Has this time of slow-down and the world on pause giving you a new perspective about what really matters in life?!

There are so many reasons to be grateful right now.  Control your thoughts, look for the blessings, change your perspective.

#5. Be Responsible for your environment 

Right now, it’s so easy to consume news and information that is scary, confusing, and depressing. It’s easy to live in a negative headspace if you allow it. While it’s important to evaluate your environment on a regular basis, I again believe that now, more than ever, we need to be careful about the type of information we are consuming and giving energy to.

Obviously, you should stay informed, but that doesn’t mean you have to be watching the news 24/7, incessantly checking Facebook for updates, or following people on Instagram who have no positive content to share. It’s totally acceptable, and even critical, to unfollow anyone on social media who doesn’t fill your heart with inspiration and joy.  You are responsible for your environment so surround yourself with things that are uplifting and make you feel good. Listen to happy playlists. Check out some personal growth podcasts.  Read books that are interesting and inspiring. Connect with people who make you feel happy.

#6. Connect with a Community

Which leads me to my next point.  During a season of social distancing, it can be incredibly hard to feel connected to a community. But another one of our  blessings is that many of us have access to the Internet, which means we can access all kinds of virtual communities. Did you now that there virtual groups for just about any topic on the Internet?  I dare you to think of the craziest topic you can come up with and then do a Google search to see if there’s a virtual community for it! (On the other hand, maaaaybe that’s not such a good idea – don’t do it! Lol) But the point is, if you have an interest, there is a virtual community waiting for you to join them on the World Wide Web!  So get online and find a community that’s interesting, supportive, encouraging, and inspiring to you!  Some of my personal favourites include:

  • The Hustle Sanely Facebook squad (personal growth community)
  • The Collective (personal growth community)
  • the Beachbody community (health and fitness community)
  • my personal Made for More Facebook group (health and wellness community)
  • Rebel Soul Tribe (social and creative community)

A simple Google search should lead you to a virtual community that interests you and can help give you the connection you need in this season.  Other ideas include things like FaceTiming or jumping on a Zoom call with your friends or co-workers for a virtual happy hour, girls night, or work session; FaceTiming or video chatting with family or friends; or even simple things, like sending a friend a text message to check in on them. However you do it, find a community that can help you grow through this season.

#7. Connect with yourself 

While connecting with others is important, it’s also critical that you spend time connecting with yourself. Finding alone time may mean making adjustments in your new routine, but especially during hard seasons, don’t let your you-time fall to the wayside. Filling your own cup is more important now than ever because others are going to need you and you can’t serve them from a place of depletion. You are going to go through scary, difficult and uncertain challenges and you need to be ready. You can do that by finding activities that are meaningful to you, that help you feel fulfilled, and that just simply bring you joy.  Here’s what I like to do during my daily alone time:

  • read
  • take notes on a favourite topic I am learning about
  • create content for my Facebook group
  • Write (journal, blog posts, or social media posts)
  • Go for walks while listening to a podcast or music
  • workout
  • meditate or pray

#8. Move your body to move your mood

I love this saying because it is so true.  I work out for my physical health but more importantly I move for my mental health.  Whether I’m already in a good mood, or am feeling down, I know a workout will leave me feeling better. I like to stay that I work out to build my actual muscles but also my emotional muscles. It takes a lot of positive self-talk to push through a hard physical challenge. That positive self-talk stays with us later when we are faced with a mental or emotional challenge (social distancing, anyone?)

Again, there is ample evidence and research that shows all the reasons why exercise is so important. But like I said, now more than ever, I believe you need to be moving your body in some capacity every, single day. There are tons of online workouts  that are currently available for free. I, of course, highly recommend Beachbody workouts (if you’re interested, let me know and I’ll hook you up with my coach!) Or better yet, why not take your activity outside by going for a walk or a run? (Just make sure to stay distant from others!) No matter what you do, find something that fits your life and your schedule, and move your body for at least 20 minutes a day.  I promise you it’ll help you grow through this season and you’ll come out stronger physically and emotionally when it’s all said and done!

#9. Give yourself and others grace

I’ve given you a lot of tips and tools that you can use to make sure that you are growing + evolving during this hard season. But, I’ve left the most important tip for last and that is that you must give yourself + others grace right now.  Change is happening daily and it takes time for us all to adjust in our own, unique ways. Stay attuned to yourself, listen to your body and mind, and give them what they need in order to flourish during this time.  Sit in your emotions, do some self-reflection, and consider what will serve you best – then make it happen! Do the same for others, keeping in mind that we all handle things in different ways. What serves you, may not serve the next person, but by working together we can get through this.

Finally, I want to remind you that I truly believe in you! You are strong, resilient, and so capable. We can do hard things. We are in this together and we are better together.

Now, what will you do to grow through what you’re going through?

 

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