Your New Normal

Your New Normal

Last week, I met a friend for coffee.  Later that day, I ran a few errands and even stopped by TJ Maxx. My daughter and I scheduled pedicures in a nearby town. Other than the face masks people were wearing, things were starting to feel “normal” again.

This week, stores are closing for a second time. Until a solution for the Corona Virus is discovered, this may keep happening. The progress of returning to normal vanished as soon as businesses close their doors. After our pedicures, the salon was also shutting down, but at least we had that one last pampering before we shelter in place again.

It is time to accept that this is the new normal and we must embrace it.

It occurred to me that I hadn’t exercised for several weeks. I was waiting for the gym to reopen. Each week, I think that surely next week it will open again. Guess what? It is still closed and now it has been months! I realized I needed to figure out new ways of doing things instead of waiting for “normal” to return.

Create a new plan – I took a look at how my life was and how I can still do the same things, but in a different way.

1. Exercise at home

Going to the gym most days was part of my routine. I used the weight machines and then ran on the elliptical. Since I don’t have access to the gym, I took a look at what equipment I do have at home. Now, I use my free weights and for the first time, I ran outside. I loved it! Running in the open air is really good for the soul. This is something I would not have tried because I am much more comfortable in the gym.

2. Meal plans delivered

I enjoy going out for lunch with friends. I love sitting outside and making a meal last with good company and a tasty dish. Since this is not available right now, I started getting meals delivered and I cook at home. I had to try several companies before I found one I love, but now I look forward to my food box. I am learning little tips about cooking and trying dishes I probably wouldn’t have experienced on my own.

3. Make income from home

So many people are financially struggling right now because they are unable to work. This is not a situation that I want to be in so I had to shift the way I want to do my business. My new partner and I are turning our business from a face-to-face service to an online one. I am so excited about this because if another outbreak occurs, we will still be able to work.

Stay social – After shelter in place protocols began, I shut myself inside for about three weeks. But my emotions started to take a toll on my well-being, and I knew I couldn’t do handle many more days inside. I had to make a change.

1. Walk daily

I started to take a long walk every day. Having a dog helps and she benefited as well. (I think it was taking a toll on her too!) Getting outside every day breaks up the monotony of being indoors.

2. Zoom call or facetime with friends

A phone call is great on most occasions, but when you are able to see someone’s face, you almost feel as though you are in the same room. It is a wonderful way to feel connected to the people that are important to you. The isolation disappears and you know you are not alone.

3. Plan picnics

Another way to stay connected with those who live nearby is to have a picnic. You can practice social distancing while enjoying a meal together. It is amazing how just a few hours outdoors with family or friends can uplift your spirit.

Keep my sanity – The seclusion of being at home day after day, gives us extra time to think (maybe too much time), to worry, or to experience anxiety. In order to take care of myself emotionally, I started to practice some daily habits.

1. Daily self-care

Each day I choose something I will do to take care of myself. It could be painting my nails, or taking a bubble bath, or reading a book. Self-care isn’t complicated. It is just making yourself a priority, without guilt, to do something nice for you.

2. Journal each morning

I was not a journaler. (Is that a word?) I joined this online group and each day we journaled and posted it. Somedays I did not post because it was too personal, but the point is that I was held accountable to journal every single day. Some days, nothing exciting was written, but other days, I was surprised by how much I was learning about myself through this daily process.

3. Learn a new hobby

This is a great time to experiment with different hobbies. Find something you enjoy doing or making besides work. Try something new. There are so many online classes available through Creative Bug, You Tube, or LinkedIn Learning. You might even be able to make a new business for yourself.

Changing my perspective on our new “normal” has helped me to embrace and accept what is happening instead of resisting it. The stress and anxiety are lessened, and I am now able to move forward in the best way I can. I am creating new routines to fit my new way of life and it is okay. Hopefully, some of our old ways will return, but in the interim, make your current life the best it can be.

Featured photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash.

Framing & Reframing

Framing & Reframing

Before sheltering in place began, I went to the grocery store. I wasn’t going to the store to prepare for what was coming, just to get my weekly groceries. I didn’t realize that people were already stocking up and most of the food bins were empty. I was shocked. I asked one of the workers in the store what was going on. “Should I be worried about getting food?” He told me no. Food was getting delivered normally so don’t worry. He thought that people were stocking up unnecessarily.

It is all a matter of perspective.

Depending on how we look at a situation, we can either be positive or we can be negative. From the grocer’s point of view, food was being delivered regularly so there was nothing to worry about. From the people’s point of view, food may not be available so I better stock up while I can. (I did stock up a little just to be sure.)

We can always change our perspective.

Sheltering in place began and at first, it was like a forced vacation. My daughter and I played games, finished puzzles, watched movies, baked cookies, and just had lazy days in our comfies. After three weeks, it wasn’t fun anymore and I got a little down. Depressing thoughts like, “Is this the end of the world?” flooded my head. (I know, a little dramatic!) But then it hit me. I want to turn these thoughts around.

Looking at a situation from another point of view is called reframing.

Your original perspective is how you framed a situation or problem. However, you CAN change the way you choose to see a situation by reframing it. I decided to turn my doom and gloom thoughts about the Corona Virus and sheltering in place. I made a conscious decision to see the opportunity in being forced to stay home.

The first change I made was to enjoy this time that my daughter and I had together. We had so much fun hanging out. Next, I decided to set some goals that I could accomplish in just three weeks. (I reorganized my kitchen for starters!) Finally, I changed my attitude to accept the changes that are happening in the world and not resist them.

When you shift your perspective, a bleak situation can open up amazing opportunities.

Life is not all roses, but the way we choose to see all the ups and downs we experience can determine whether we are troubled or happy along the way. We can reframe almost anything. Once I reframed sheltering in place, I decided to look for ways to work from home and still be able to help people. I met a wonderful friend and we will be offering some classes together in the near future. I am not sure our paths would have crossed in the same way without sheltering in place.

Choose something in your life that you are not happy about and see if you can reframe it with another perspective.

Maybe that annoying neighbor could be your path to grow in compassion. Maybe the weight you want to lose could be your push to take better care of yourself. There is always a more positive light waiting to be shed on your situation. Find it and reframe you thinking!

Here are a couple links to articles about the clinical use of reframing from the Very Well Mind website:  “Using Cognitive Reframing for Mental Health” written by Amy Morin, LCSW and “How to Reframe Situations so They Create Less Stress” written by Elizabeth Scott, MS.

Please share some examples of reframing in your life!

Featured photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash.

Morning Walks

Morning Walks

There are many ways to start your day on the right foot. I have many rituals, so-to-speak, that I do each morning help me get ready to have a wonderful day.

One of the things that I do regularly is take a morning walk.

I must confess that I have a dog, Piper, and because I need to take her outside in the morning, it is easier to keep this morning habit. If you don’t have a dog, maybe you could meet a friend. However, what I like most about my walk is the quiet time I have with myself (and my dog, of course)!

The first thing I notice when I head outdoors is the sense of peace and calm.

It doesn’t matter if it is cold, windy, rainy, or hot. I get to be alone with my thoughts. This “alone” time is essential for me. It is where I get to show up for myself. Most of us have such busy lives that we don’t make time for quiet time. A morning walk lets you experience this peaceful time before you get too busy in other tasks.

A morning walk is a great opportunity to practice mindfulness.

Being mindful is about living in the moment you are presently experiencing. In other words, if you are walking, then you are walking with your mind on walking. It is not the time to talk on the phone or scroll emails or social media. Just be present with walking. Notice the sounds you hear like the crunching of leaves under your feet. What kind of things do you see? Or hear? The more you notice your surroundings, the more mindful you are being.

Doctors recommend a thirty minute walk every day, rain or shine.

A morning walk is a healthy habit to develop. You can make it a vigorous walk to burn extra calories or a casual walk to enjoy nature. Either way, by walking in the morning you are doing something healthy for your body.

A morning walk can also be meditative.

Many apps are available that guide you through a meditation while you are walking. You can focus on your breathing for part of the walk. This will help to clear your mind. Another way to use the walk as a meditation is to think of one thing, maybe a question, a quote, or an affirmation. Then only think about this one thing while you walk for a certain amount of time.

Here is an example of one way to take your walk.

Start with the first five minutes, noticing the sights, sounds, smells around you. Are you holding something? How do you feel? How does your body feel?

The next twenty minutes, focus on breathing and clear your head of other thoughts. When you catch yourself thinking, just release it. Say to yourself, “I don’t need to think about that right now.” To keep your attention on your breathing, you can count. Inhale – one, exhale – two, inhale – three, exhale – four, etc. up to ten. When you reach ten, start over.

If you get tired of counting, you can listen to the sound of your feet. The idea here is to keep your mind clear and stay in the present, focusing on your walk.

The last five minutes, notice your surroundings again. How do you feel? What are your senses telling you? Enjoy this calm and quiet.

Walking in the morning does not have to be complicated.

There are no rules for taking a morning walk. You do not have to DO anything. Just walk. Just breath. Just enjoy the time.

Featured photo by Adrien Tutin on Unsplash.

It’s Spring!

It’s Spring!

Today is the first day of spring! At the start of every season, I am excited to do all the things associated with that time of year. Spring is all about new growth, new beginnings, and fresh air.

My favorite thing about spring is hearing the birds chirp in the morning. I miss this sound and when I hear them for the first time, I get excited. This year, I had an extra surprise! A dove laid an egg in my planter. I am not sure why these birds picked my balcony because my dog sits out there all the time. However, I now get to watch this special event at close range.

Spring cleaning is the first thing that pops in my head when I think of this season. Since I love to clean and organize, I get excited to dive into that task. I love the feeling that everything is back in place and when I open a drawer it is neatly organized. However, you do not have to spring clean just because it is spring. Also, you do not have to do it all at once. I usually break it up over a week or two and just start with one room at a time and do a little each day until it is done. I also decide how I will reward myself, so I am motivated to finish.

That is the literal interpretation of “spring cleaning.” How about a different way of looking at this concept?

Our calendars, our lives, also become cluttered and dirty. This might be a good time to clean out all our commitments and get back to what is important to us. It may be time to start a new membership at the gym or decide to leave that book club or maybe join one. Basically, spring cleaning can be a nice time to reevaluate your time and clean up your calendar.

Spring is also a good time to set one new goal. Just one. Pick something small and doable. Maybe you want to start a new journal or run a certain distance. Achieve it and you will feel great!

Here is a list of 30 ideas to do in spring.

  1. Plan or design a garden.
  2. Plant seedlings.
  3. Put out bird feeders.
  4. Clean out your closet.
  5. Pack up winter clothes.
  6. Get your bike ready.
  7. Go for a bike ride.
  8. Have a tea party.
  9. Eat dinner outside.
  10. Fly a kite.
  11. Walk in the rain.
  12. Find a four-leaf clover.
  13. Notice the budding trees.
  14. Sleep with your window open.
  15. Plant flowers.
  16. Go for a hike.
  17. Spring clean your home.
  18. Put flowers on your table.
  19. Try a new recipe.
  20. Plant herbs.
  21. Declutter.
  22. Start a new book.
  23. Walk to the market.
  24. Clean your patio, balcony, or outdoor space.
  25. Have breakfast on your patio.
  26. Paint a room.
  27. Buy fresh pillows.
  28. Buy a hammock.
  29. Visit an art gallery.
  30. Write in your journal.

These last two ideas aren’t really spring related but I just needed a couple more to hit thirty! But you get the idea. Enjoy this season. Add to the list and share any other ideas you have for things to do in the spring!

 

Featured photo by Boris Smokrovic on Unsplash.

Me, Myself Time

Me, Myself Time

When my daughter was little, she loved a cartoon with a little girl named Frances. When Frances was upset about things not going her way, she would hide under the dining room table and tell her mother she needed some “me, myself time.” Now, my daughter and I use this same phrase when we need a little time to recuperate or a little bit of pampering time.

How does a person know when it is time for a little self-care or me, myself time? It is important to check-in with ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to know when we need a little TLC.

Mentally (mind): Do you feel excited about your career and are you motivated to get up in the morning? Or are you needing a change in your life?

Physically (body): Have you been eating and sleeping well? Or are you tired, sluggish, and drained?

Emotionally(soul): How are you feeling? Happy? Excited? Or are you sad, depressed, or feeling discouraged?

Sometimes we are doing alright in all these areas, but we just haven’t done anything fun in a while. We do not need an excuse or a reason to have a little me, myself time and it is important to take care of us first so we can be our best for those around us.

One way to keep being our best selves is to regularly do the things that keep us in this healthy state. Make a list of what keeps you at your best. Here are a few ideas:

Mentally:

  • Keep your mind stimulated by learning new things. Sign up for a class on a topic that interests you. There are so many online options that you do not even have to leave your home.
  • Set a goal to read a specific number of books each year or month. Choose a variety of fiction and nonfiction.
  • Watching television isn’t always bad for you. There are so many documentaries and educational shows as well as entertaining ones.
  • Challenge yourself with a new skill or creative outlet.

Physically:

  • Eating well helps us to feel well. Choose healthy food options over sugar and processed foods. Maybe sign up for a cooking class.
  • Join a gym or just start walking. Thirty minutes a day of physical activity will also help us mentally.
  • Get some vitamin D while enjoying the sun. Just fifteen minutes a day without sunscreen will give us the benefits of natural vitamin D.
  • Take a nap. It is important to get enough sleep and rest to be at our best.

Emotionally:

  • Meditating is a great way to clear our minds from all the clutter. With our heads clear, we have the room to think better and be present.
  • Friendships are good for the soul. Regularly nourish the relationships in your life. They are what make life worth living.
  • Journal for a few minutes in the morning and evening. You will discover new things about yourself.
  • Enjoy some quiet each day. Take a bubble bath or sit with a cup of tea. Listen to the sounds around you.

In order to live a balanced and stable life, we must take care of ourselves mentally, physically, and emotionally. We are each responsible for our own well-being. Check in with yourself regularly, ask yourself how you are doing, and know that you are worth having a little “me, myself time.”

Featured photo by Ava Sol on Unsplash.

Take the Leap

Take the Leap

“Take risks. If you win, you will be happy. If you lose, you will be wise.”

It’s leap year! We get an extra day this year! What will you do with your extra day today? Thinking about having an “extra” day made me think about taking risks. (I don’t know where my mind gets this stuff, but there it is.)

If there is “extra” of something, then we can take a risk without worrying about wasting it or losing it. So, this leap year, with our extra day, we have the opportunity to try something new and take a risk with it.

While journaling today, make a list of things that hold you back and risks you want to take. Then write about what might happen if you take those risks. There could be positive and negative outcomes for those risks, but either way the risks offer a learning opportunity. The possibilities are most likely so much more than just that, but without taking the leap, we will never know what is possible.

That’s it for today. I am now going to write in my journal. So, I am challenging myself as I challenge you to take the leap and take a risk!

Featured photo by Erik Dungan on Unsplash.