July 2020. We're still doing quarantine life. Face masks are the new norm. The Black Lives Matter movement and (hopefully) new racial awareness sent us into a societal upheaval that will require work for many, many years to come.
Along with this dual pandemic, many of us will cope with chronic anxiety and will need to self-regulate in our own ways. What steps can we take to craft a personal well-being framework that can carry us into a new normal (subject to more change, of course)? Here are some self-care steps I've taken in the past few weeks to sit, move through, and change. It's different that it looked four months ago.
First, I took a break from social media.
My normal practice of quieting my mind to think more clearly was compromised with so much noise. I did the thing: checking my phone the second I woke up. Stop. I chose to disengage, working through my own self-doubts while others intensified their use of social media as a tool to galvanize support and show solidarity. I stand by my decision, and so does medical research. Several studies found people who limit social media to half an hour a day show significantly fewer signs of depression, anxiety. And, overuse of social media is simply not good for mental health, overall, according a wide range of research.
Second, I gave myself a break from my own schedule and just sat (meditated).
Whatever I didn't have to do, I didn't. Self-care is not an excuse to disregard responsibility, ignore personal hygiene, or check out. In fact, this break was an act of checking IN to examine how I was over-activating my sympathetic nervous system through over scheduling. There is much evidence to support the statement that over scheduling goes hand-in-hand with anxiety. Too much yang, and not enough yin makes for imbalance - not just in yoga poses, but in choices for real life to find harmony. Don't get me wrong, I love a schedule. It keeps me on track. I just needed to craft a new way to schedule with sanity.
Third, I decided to find MY new way.
What worked before quarantine and in the early days of quarantine won't necessarily sustain well-being for months to come. I got that, loud and clear, when I ended up in the hospital with my first-ever case of vertigo (too many zooms, you know). I had to ask myself, as we now feel these global and societal changes in our bodies, how do we make choices when we don't really know what will happen? Worrying about the unknown, constantly, only created anguish and tightness in my chest.
My answer was to do the best I could knowing myself and the information I have right now. (And use Breathe essential oil blend in both my diffuser and personal roller more often.)
I loved my Saturday morning flow class and the ability to connect with all my peeps from everywhere, but I was getting burned out teaching both Saturday and Sunday mornings. There was a reason I had never taught that much on weekends, so I let Saturday go, forged a new collaboration with my Seattle studio for Sunday class, and prioritized my well-being at the same time. It felt right and great!
Spellbound Yoga Teacher Training was set to launch at a studio in Berkeley when COVID-19 hit. We transformed our yoga school to an online platform with deliberate screen breaks and and stayed true to real learning. The online platform eliminated travel and enabled some yogis to train with us who wouldn't normally be able to do so in a new model for our future trainings.
I came back to social media with a different voice, honoring my own position as a person of color, a yoga teacher of color, an Asian American, and a relatively experienced human. I was thoughtful to act from a merging of social awareness and my own mental health. It took some time, but what I share is authentic, real, and supports my own well-being (even though my social media gurus would tell me otherwise, whatever). There are many ways to be a warrior.
My husband and I, mourning our passion for global travel, looked at ways to keep exploring while staying safe. We've planned some day trips with the doodle and a weekend getaway by car for our wedding anniversary next month. Our dream for the Galapagos Islands is on hold, but not dead.
In the midst of great shift, self care is paramount. Rethink it. Reshape it. You shape-shift on the mat to increase your strength and flexibility through asana. Isn't shape-shifting part of real life too?