By Richelle Hanna
At this point, we are almost 15 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, and most of us are straight up burnt out! Working from home, educating our kids from home, trying to maintain some sense of work- life balance with seemingly no escape … it’s been a struggle to say the least.
On the bright side, there are many things we can do to find our zen RIGHT NOW! Over the course of the past year, I have researched and tried MANY different tools to calm myself down and find peace amidst all the stress and uncertainty. Out of all the things I have tried, these five have been the most helpful in helping me achieve serenity quickly and effectively!
Five simple ways to get your zen on right now
1. Move your body.
It’s no secret, exercise and movement do wonders for both our mental and physical health. I am an avid runner and I start every day with a workout. Even if I’m feeling exhausted and have low energy (truthfully—most days!), I stick to my routine by changing right into my workout gear as soon as I get up. This way, it sends the signal to my brain that I will exercise in some capacity before I move on with the rest of my day. Don’t have a 30 to 60-minute chunk of time to work out? Take a movement break. Step away from the computer and do 10 jumping jacks. Put in your earbuds and walk while you have your zoom call. Respond to emails on the treadmill. I have written a blog post or two from my spin bike! By doing this, I have found I am much more focused and productive after just five minutes of moving my body. Not to mention my mood is MUCH better and I have far more energy afterwards.
2. Be proactive.
This goes hand-in-hand with moving your body. I’ll never forget a conversation I had with my physiotherapist a while back. After a particularly bad neck and knee flare up, he suggested I look at my body as a vehicle. He asked me to think of all the many things I put my body through on a daily basis—carrying groceries, lifting kids, standing and staring at my computer screen, vacuuming, running, folding laundry. Our days may all look different, but even if you don’t realize it in the moment, everything we do takes a toll on our bodies and adds up over time. Just like how we schedule our cars in for servicing every few months, our bodies need maintenance, too! For me, this includes having regular physiotherapy, chiropractic and massage therapy appointments. Plus, mental health appointments with my therapist! I am so grateful Alberta Blue Cross plans advocate alternative health models, and our coverage makes it affordable and easy for me to be proactive with my health. To read more about available plans, you can click here.
I must admit, meditation and mindfulness are not my strong suit. I’m a classic type-A, over achiever who likes to get sh*t done. If I am busy or on a roll accomplishing things, I often don’t want to stop and lose momentum. But pushing myself to the brink is often my biggest downfall. BUT, lately I have been making a concerted effort to step away from a situation that is causing me stress and anxiety and taking a one minute “brain break”. I move myself to a different room, shut the door, close my eyes and breathe for sixty seconds. Set an alarm on your phone if you need to. I have honestly been shocked at how a one-minute meditation session has the power to calm me down and increase my productivity—WIN-WIN! If all else fails … try a 10 minute yoga class on YouTube. There are a ton of free options to choose from.
4. Schedule self-care.
We all know the benefits of self-care—it’s been the “buzz word” of much of 2020 to 2021. Knowing we need it and making a concerted effort to give ourselves (and our minds) the true care we need, are two different things.
Here are some easy ways I’m incorporating self-care into my days:
- Refraining or minimizing how much I watch or read the news.
- Saying no to people and commitments that are not positive for me (and feeling NO GUILT about it).
- Getting outdoors as much as possible.
- Setting boundaries (AND HOLDING THEM!) for friends and family members.
- Having some me time (a bath at the end of the day or reading a new novel).
- Putting my phone away after 7 p.m.
5. Prioritize rest.
I have been an insomniac for about seven years now, since I became pregnant with my son, and I am often so exhausted I have a hard time getting to bed and falling asleep. Much like my children, if I miss my “window” to fall asleep, I can spend hours tossing and turning. Lately, I’ve been making a few small changes to my nightly routine and listening to my bodies sleep cues—staying off my phone in the evenings, switching sleep locations (such as sleeping on the couch) if I cannot fall asleep in my bed and sometimes even staying up a bit later until my eyes are heavy—all of which have been helping me a ton! Spend some time figuring out what works for you. Maybe you incorporate a nap into your day, perhaps you aim to get to bed earlier or turn off the TV an hour prior to when you usually would. Rest is key to a healthy mind and body!
Hope you found these tips and tricks helpful for finding and maintaining your zen during these extra challenging times. A huge thank you to our friends at Alberta Blue Cross for sponsoring this post. In case you need to hear it today—life is tough, but you are TOUGHER! It is easy to be stressed and overwhelmed with the wight of the world right now, but let’s focus on how much we have already overcome.
Remember—you’ve got this!
This blog was written in partnership with Richelle Hanna of River City Sisters, a contemporary lifestyle blog by two Edmonton sisters. Check out their work at rivercitysisters.com.