As we slide out of 2020 and creep into 2021 it’s been a subdued mood, opposed to the usual ‘out with the old, in with the new’ fanfare with fireworks that we usually celebrate. While we all were desperate to say ‘Farewell’ (or something more expressive) to 2020, we are not out of the woods.
Here is the UK we are under another strict lockdown. My heart goes out to all the kids missing their friends at school, parents faced with the impossible juggle of work and childcare and those feeling lonely and isolated at this time. In short, it sucks.
I’m in no hurry to ‘smash it’, start the ‘hustle’ or set aggressive business ‘goals’. It’s just not my style anyway and I urge you the tendency to resist putting any added pressure on yourself. But as the recent news surrounding the pandemic is unsettling, I’m slowly getting my head around it. We have been here before and can implement the strategies to cope. For me, when things feel out of control, I start to take a look at what I can try to control. And that’s my mindset. So this post is a little different than the usual cushion plumping fare. Indulge me while I share what has really been quite a transformation for me in terms of coping with feelings of anxiety and overwhelm.
For anyone who has been following my Instagram stories, I have been doing a lot of cold-water therapy! Inspired by the Wimm Hoff method, I’ve been taking cold showers every morning for the past few months and taking a sea swim once a week in Brighton. Here is me taking a dip on New Year’s Day! Yes, it’s freezing and deeply unpleasant, but the rush of feel-good hormones and mood boost it gives me that stays with me for the rest of the day makes it so worth it! If you are intrigued, the way I first got inspired was listening to Fearne Cotton interview Wimm on her podcast The Happy Place. I’ve since bought the book, downloaded the app and installed a cold water plunge bath in the garden!
Another thing that has helped me tame my anxiety is reading positive books. I hit a low point in the middle of last year and my best friend recommended ‘Notes on a nervous planet’ by Matt Haig which is full of very practical advice about controlling feelings of overwhelm, distress and panic. Biggest take away tip has been to ban my phone from ever entering my bedroom! I make sure I don’t look at it first or last thing in the day.
Instead, I’m focusing on better morning and evening routine. Another brilliant book that has helped my state of mind loads is Think like a Monk by Jay Shetty. It’s a lovely read and bursting with accessible wisdoms and ideas that are easy to apply. My biggest take home from this book so far has been setting a morning routine. The Monks way is to have a positive, gentle and peaceful morning that sets you up for the day. The way I am doing this is getting up 15 minutes earlier each day to afford myself some quiet ‘me time’ before the rest of the house gets up and it all kicks off! My cold shower or garden bathtub plunge is part of that too and not looking at Instagram or the news until I’ve done it.
Another quick shout out to Humankind by Rutger Bregman. I loved this book so much I bought all my friends and family a copy for Christmas! Within it Bregman makes the argument that, contrary to what the media, both ‘fake’ and ‘real’ would have you believe, humans are fundamentally kind. Bregman analyses data, history, philosophy and sociology to win the argument that believing in the true nature of human kindness and altruism can change not only how we think and feel about one another, but act as the foundation for achieving positive change.
Exercise has been a new thing for me in 2020! I was never a lover of lycra but taking up weight training from home with Team Yo has been transformational, not just on my butt but on my moods too. Weight training has been particularly successful at helping me reconnect with my body and feel grateful for my health and vitality. Cardio has always just made me feel puffed out and stressed but whatever works for you! Due to the lockdowns I’ve also never walked so much and having that connection to nature has been fundamental to us all! Here’s more to that and hitting 10,000 steps a day, my current target!
This is something I do the start of every year and is much more effective than any ‘new year’s resolution’ for many reasons. I’m not going to go into too much depth here as I’m going to do a whole post on it in the next couple of weeks as I’ve received so many questions over on Instagram about how and why I do it. Needless to say, it’s an incredible way to help you feel positive, steadily moving towards your aspirations with no pressure or feeling of failure and gives you a big dose of the good vibes! Here is mine for this year which for the first time I think ever doesn’t have any big plans for my house! I’m sure I’ll be adding something as the year rolls out, but we did so much lockdown decorating, for now I feel satisfied! But you now…watch this space!
While we can’t make plans for big trips, nights out, parties or events my attention turns to the little pleasures and they are no less worthy. I really urge you to think how you can make yourself feel good in an everyday way that doesn’t require loads of effort or money. Here are a few of mine.
And all that’s left is to practice gratitude. That sometimes feels hard when there is so many hardships facing us, but it really works when it comes to managing feelings of anxiety. I’m a real one for taking a pragmatic ‘it is what it is’ outlook and then looking at how I can control my perspective. Gratitude is a really personal thing but ideas for me include a fridge full of food, a warm and beautiful home, people who love me, birdsong, my dog’s sofa cuddles and the ability to connect with all of you online. I’ve never got round to keeping a Gratitude journal although that does sound like an excellent idea. But a few moments in the morning and when I go to bed to be thankful for anything in the here and now does the trick.
Which just leaves me to thank you for reading this post and making it all the way to the bottom! I hope you have found a little pearl of inspiration here. I’ve only discovered these coping strategies because of the people who have shared them with me. If you have anything that’s really worked for you please do share them in the comments below. My vision for 2021 is that I will never stop learning and finding new inspiration!