Confession: I have been in a funk lately. To the point where I really don't feel like myself. Sometimes I do my hair and makeup, put on regular clothes, and slap a smile on my face even though my mind is in complete turmoil. I can't help but dwell on the chaos and uncertainty that defines the world right now. It's devastating to think of all the people that are affected and will continue to be affected by this pandemic. Jobs lost, businesses closed down, families separated, kids unable to attend school, graduations, and sporting events, vacations cancelled, weddings postponed, funerals unable to be attended, it's just too much. I can understand why depression rates would be skyrocketing under these circumstances, because as a generally very happy person, it's been easy to find myself overcome with sadness. When will we reopen the gyms? When will we be able to safely see friends and family in person again? When will I be able to go to shopping without worrying about touching something that might spread the virus? How much longer am I going to have to be cooped up in my house? It all seems so far away to me, and that is an absolutely overwhelming feeling.
I have talked a lot on the blog about getting to go to work every day and do what I love. It's been hard to suddenly have that taken away. I still coach classes over Zoom here and there, design home workouts, provide some remote programming for people, and I get to work on nutrition programming and online courses, but all of that pales in comparison to being hands on, in person with people. I desperately miss working with people in a gym setting and seeing how much of a difference being at the gym makes in people's lives. Working out at home, while necessary and better than nothing during these times, is just not the same.
Sorry for sounding so doom and gloom, but I've been confronted with some real ass feelings lately. I want to bring some attention to it, because we're going through some weird, uncharted waters right now, and it's ok to feel lost or out of sorts. I feel like a lot of people will be able to relate in some way to feeling a little extra stress, loneliness, or uncertainty lately. I also believe that it's important to recognize that there are healthy ways to deal with all the emotions that come along with living through a global crisis. In response, I wanted to share some of the ways that I am choosing to cope when I start to feel the negative thoughts and feelings taking over my mind. Here are some of my strategies that I turn to when I'm not feeling my best:
Start to list the things that you are grateful for. In a time where we have so much extra time to think and reflect, choose to use that time to appreciate the people and things that have enriched your life during these troubling times. Personally, I am incredibly thankful to have my dog with me each day. He keeps me company while Shawn is working, and there's nothing better than a puppy hug when you're feeling down. I am so grateful that my husband is still employed right now and that our families are staying healthy. I also feel very lucky to have an incredible support system to reach out to when I need it. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to the days when I can see my friends and family again. If this quarantine has given me anything, it has made me even more aware of how fortunate I am to have such amazing people in my life. I'm also so thankful that I have taken care of my health over the years and feel confident that if I were to get sick, I would be able to recover. Thinking about all the positive things that make up my life completely outweigh the negative, and reminding myself of that helps to turn my mood around on the difficult days.
Figure out a way to contribute. I realize that everyone's situation will differ in this capacity and some are in a better situation than others to give help. However, there are tons of ways we can help each other out, and many of those don't cost a cent. Kind words to the overworked grocery worker, a smile and a wave to your neighbor walking their dog, a small note or card of thanks to the healthcare worker that lives next door are all free and will likely come as a welcomed ray of sunshine in dark times. I've heard about people making masks, donating food, giving blood, offering to go to the store for an elderly neighbor, ordering takeout for families in need, etc. Again, even if its something small, do something to play a part, regardless of how small or insignificant it may seem, in making this time a little easier for those around you. Not only could it make a difference in someone else's life, but it gives us some direction and purpose in the days that otherwise may begin to feel meaningless.
Workout. No surprise here. Exercising is definitely my escape. When negativity starts to get in my way, I put on my tennis shoes and sweat it out. It's a way that I feel very in control of my surroundings. I'm doing something productive- working on my health- while freeing my thoughts from everything but the movement I am working on.
Write it down. I guess you guys are part of my therapy today. Writing down what you're feeling is cathartic in a way. It's a great way to put your abstract feelings into words. Sometimes you don't even realize you're feeling some of the things you're feeling until they show themselves on the page. Those feelings also change day-to-day, so having a record of them and seeing the progression of those thoughts can help you prepare to deal with them or to remember how you were feeling in a particular moment.
Cook a healthy meal. There's nothing like a good home-cooked meal. I know we all love to turn to comfort foods when times get tough, myself included. However, because we're in this for the long haul, desserts, pizza, fried foods, and other high calorie food choices a'int gonna cut it everyday. Take the time to assess the ingredients you have on hand and create a meal to be proud of. Make sure it's balanced with whole foods, protein, healthy carbs, and vegetables. Try to eat a variety of colors. Take your time in seasoning things, and be proud of the end product. Your body as well as your mind will thank you for it.
Call someone and vent about it. Sometimes it's better to just let that word vomit out. Pick someone you trust and know will listen to you no matter what. I do this often with my husband, but also with friends and family members as well. Talk it out. You'll be surprised how much your feelings are shared by others as well. Relate with others, share your troubles so you don't have to face them alone, and connect with people while we're living in such disconnected times.
Plan something "normal." I realize the life we are currently living is far from what we know to be "normal," but that doesn't mean we can't bring a little normalcy into our current situation. This can be anything from grabbing takeout, setting up a picnic outside, going for a walk or drive with your family, to grabbing coffee at a drive-thru. I plan a date night for my husband and I each week, complete with dinner, game or other activity we can do, and a movie or show to watch together before bed. Although we aren't leaving the house like we used to for date night, we are doing some of the same things we would have done before. It's also something for me to look forward to throughout the week. Whatever your normal is, pick something to help you feel it, even if it's just for a short period of time. It really does help.
I know we got a little more real today, and I'll be back with recipes and workouts later this week, but I wanted to take a minute to address the seriousness of what we're all going through. I want everyone to feel validated in what they're feeling, regardless of their current situation. It's scary, it's weird, it's hard, it's chaotic, and we're all going through it together. It's ok to feel not ok. Try to lean on your people during the tough times, and help someone else that might be feeling some extra pain right now. Do your best to distract yourself from the negative, and find ways to bring some normalcy to our world that has been turned completely upside down. And most importantly, remember the things that bring value and purpose to your life. Find daily gratitude, because you never know what tomorrow will bring. Hug your family, hold onto your pets, and cherish your loved ones today and every day to come. Love you all! Stay safe, stay healthy, stay home! <3