I know that this third lockdown in particular hasn’t been easy for a lot of people.
The repetitiveness, the shit weather, the lack of human interaction. It’s hardly a dream scenario.
That said, I’m a big believer in the idea that how we choose to perceive our circumstances is what dictates our experience (obviously, there are extreme scenarios).
Essentially what I mean is that if you choose to view this moment as an opportunity for growth/improvement, then perhaps it can be exactly that.
So, here’s a few things that I’ve been focusing on to help make my perception of my circumstances more positive.
The link between physical & mental/emotional well-being is well known. I know first hand that if aspects of my physical health are lacking, there's a pretty good chance I won't be feeling fantastic on the psychological side of things either.
Movement throughout the day & conscious consumption are my fundamentals.
Due to the pandemic a lot of my time nowadays is spent sat using my laptop. To counter-act this, I try to get up & do some form of movement (walking, bodyweight exercises, mobility drills) every hour or so. For me it's about breaking up the day with movement.
Being based at home also means I have unlimited access to the fridge. This is why the practice of conscious consumption - only eating when I'm genuinely hungry & being conscious of the foods I fuel my body with - is particularly relevant.
Ultimately, I focus on these things because I value feeling good. A big part of achieving that is being healthy, strong, & ready to take on whatever life might present. The movement & training practices within my lifestyle help facilitate CV fitness, strength, mobility, & reduce the likelihood of me experiencing discomfort or injury.
What's more, for me, movement is basically a form of meditation. It allows me to temporarily check-out from the incessant thinking of the mind & just focus on being in my body. I'm no stranger to over-thinking & getting caught in repetitive thought loops. Through movement I'm able to break-up stagnant thought patterns, feel less overwhelmed, & have more creative ideas.
Nutrition wise, the inputs dictate the outputs. The link between diet & cognitive disease (alzheimers, depression) is undisputed. If I want to feel good emotionally & perform to my best, I've got to be eating right.
Be More Present.
In modern-day western society we’re raised to believe that if we just achieve ‘x’ then we’ll be happy/content/satisfied/all our problems will disappear. We can spend our whole life in pursuit of arrival at a destination that doesn't exist; so pre-occupied with the future that we fail to live in & appreciate the now.
I've realised that my ability to simply be present - to focus on the now & to let go of trying to control the future - is one of the greatest dictators of how I feel on a daily basis.
In the past year or so, I’ve come to the realisation that the times when I feel most at peace, content, & positive about my circumstances are when I’m experiencing my life & the daily interactions within it, with presence. I'm not caught up with the multitude of things that I need to get done (instead I focus on one thing at a time), nor where I think my business should be (I accept where I'm at right now)/ Instead, I simply live in the present moment.
Now more than ever, I'm trying to focus on measuring my days by degree of presence, not productivity.
This isn't an easy time. There’s no divide between work, family, exercise, down time.
If you're anything like me, you'll naturally turn to social media as an escape. Bad move. Now you're comparing your life to the lives of others & are bombarded with content centered around what you perceive you lack. The result? You end up feeling disappointed with yourself, as though you aren't enough.
In actuality, the idea that you need to be validated externally - through your car, expensive clothes, followers, attractiveness - in order to be ‘enough’ is ludicrous. You're already enough as you are right now. Remembering that is essential.
Another thing I think that is relevant to this is self-talk. I know I have a tendency to be pretty self-critical - I have done for a while. A phrase that I like to remind myself often is 'Treat yourself the way you'd treat someone you care about'. Bare that in mind next time you're dishing out the self-criticism internally.
With time I've realised that psycholgically punishing myself is never the key to progress. Being honest with myself about my flaws & building genuine strategy to improve is always a better strategy.
Lastly, lower the expectations you place on yourself. Focus on being the learner, not the person who's got it all figured out. Recognise that failure doesn't exist - only opportunities to learn.
The biggest challenge I personally face is the dilemma of being happy with where I'm at in the present moment, whilst also having the ambition & drive to learn, grow, and improve.
As I mentioned in the previous point, having a level of self-compassion & acceptance of your current circumstances is key. But, at the same time I think it's important not to outstay your welcome in your comfort zone. In my eyes, growth & a general feeling of progression towards goals is crucial.
For me, learning is really what life is all about. Discovering my limitations, self-limiting beliefs, and any areas/topics where my knowledge could do with improving. It's a never-ending learning process.
With time more abundant, I’m taking the opportunity to introspect, outline my weaknesses, & become clear on my motivations & aspirations. It's about having an understanding of where I'm at right now, what I'm hoping to achieve, & what I can do to improve.
Essentially, I'm trying my best to use this time as an opportunity to seek growth.
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