I must say I am grateful, relieved, and optimistic right now. After the election was called, I joined fellow residents of New Orleans as we danced in the streets (with masks on, of course) and allowed ourselves to feel the joy of the moment. I feel like many of us across the world are sharing a collective sigh of relief, and it feels good.
That said, I know that the work doesn’t stop here. In order to keep going, though, we have to take care of ourselves. I reached out to seven wellness practitioners in my network to ask how they’re staying grounded lately. I hope what they’ve shared here helps you in some way as we move forward!
Finding Joy in the Little Things
Ko Im, a yoga/meditation teacher and mindfulness advocate, was grateful for the self-care tools she already had, like yoga and meditation, but this year has really been about leaning into smaller pockets of joy. For her, that looks like video chats with friends and their babies, learning TikTok dances just for the fun of it, and joining Zooms to sing karaoke or share in on special moments, like friends’ weddings.
Adapting and Pivoting As Needed
Many of us have had to let go of expectations of what this year would be. Gaby Yen, a yoga instructor, has been working to be okay with things as they are—and to reframe the way she approaches things. “I keep reminding myself that the difference between a routine and a ritual is the attitude behind the action. Looking at everyday tasks or challenges with gratitude, instead of comparison or expectation, has helped me stay more happy and hopeful. Change your attitude, and the world around you changes!”
Chauna Bryant, a breathwork facilitator and energy worker, has had to re-examine her priorities and face the hard truth that too often, she comes last on her own list. “I have become way more rigid and uncompromising about grounding myself,” she says. As a result, she’s also reduced her circle of friends to eliminate people who don’t respect her boundaries. (Here for this, always!)
Focusing Less on Self and More on Community
Molly Hilgenberg, who’s studying to be a trauma-informed psychotherapist and is a trained breathwork practitioner, has expanded her view from self care to community care. “We are all living and surviving under a settler colonial state that has refused to protect its most marginalized peoples during a pandemic and ongoing state-sanctioned violence,” she says. “I check on my loved ones, especially my Black and Brown friends and have been doing more committed anti-racism work with ongoing education and advocacy. I am donating to local mutual aid funds. I am learning what it means to be a guest on occupied Wiyot land while reading up on land reparations for Indigenous solidarity. I remind myself on a daily basis that Indigenous peoples survived the apocalypse on Turtle Island these past 500 years, so we really should be listening to and following their lead.”
Spending Time Outside—Weather Permitting
As the mother of two small children that are now constantly at home, Christine O'Connor, a breathwork practitioner, has had to get creative with finding time for herself. One of the biggest ways she’s done that is by moving her body outdoors. “While doing yoga at home or sitting by a river outside are helpful, I find that moving through the world alone helps my brain and spirit the most. This may be partially due to the fact that working from my basement means that the majority of my life during this pandemic happens at home. So lots of hikes, long walks, river floats, etc. have all been really good for me.”
Likewise, Chauna found that being outdoors is a critical way to stay grounded and connected. However, she lives in D.C.—and with winter rolling in and people packing popular outdoor spots, being outside has become challenging. She has two tips for city folx in the same situation: 1) Try going out at odd hours, like earlier in the morning or late in the evening (if it’s safe.) 2) If you’re stuck inside, sit near an open window (bonus points if there’s sunlight!), and allow those elements to be your grounding anchor.
Making Time to Tune Out
A recurring theme I’ve seen this year is people allowing themselves to take a break and detach from our culture’s focus on productivity. Susan Ateh, a breathwork facilitator, is trying to remember that switching everything off—even meditation!—and tuning out to, say, watch Netflix, is fine. “I’ve learned not to feel guilty about it,” she explains. “Rest has become a major part of my vocabulary this year, and I'm really honoring that.” (PS: I highly recommend following The Nap Ministry on IG!)
Being Barefoot As Much As Possible
Almost everyone I talked to mentioned the importance of spending time outdoors with no shoes on. Anna Juniper, a yoga instructor and Reiki practitioner, has discovered a lot of peace moving her yoga practice outdoors. She finds that being barefoot on the earth while she moves has allowed her to tap into the vibration of the earth. Ko feels similarly, adding, “Keeping my feet on the ground lets me enjoy my life with ease.”
And if you can’t quite make that happen, Molly says not to worry, if you have a pet. ”Dogs walk barefoot every day, so I like to think of our 80 pound dog as my grounding cord every time we snuggle!”
Lastly, when talking to so many breathwork practitioners, it was inevitable that breathwork came up as a major tool! For Christine, breathing is #1. “Breathwork, obviously, but also taking slow, deep breaths many times a day,” she says, recommending the 4-7-8 breathing method specifically. She also shared a simple mindfulness technique called “focus out.” If you’d like to try, her instructions follow:
Spend a few minutes bringing your attention to the sounds, smells, and feeling sensations happening around you. Notice one at a time. You start by focusing on the sounds of birds singing, then your focus shifts to the breeze moving the hairs on your arm, then the smell of a car going by, etc. If you find yourself focusing on your thoughts again, bring your attention to one of those sensations outside of you. This is a really simple and accessible way to practice meditation and give yourself a break from focusing on your own thoughts.
Some Ideas for You
Finally, here’s a round-up of concrete suggestions for you, from all the practitioners interviewed and in no particular order:
- Take a walk
- Run a bath
- Move your body
- Go outside
- Start a small ritual, like a nightly facial massage
- Volunteer or get involved in your community
- Take breaks from your phone/technology; turn your phone on airplane mode!
- Try a sandbag as a cheap alternative to weighted blankets
- Cry if you need to; honor your feelings
- Send snail mail to friends to stay connected
- Soothe your anxiety with Smoke Perfume’s rose tincture :)
- Watch reruns of a favorite show wearing cozy pajamas
- Prioritize your sleep
- Cook healthy meals
- Listen to music
- Sign up for an online course in a topic that’s always interested you
I hope you’re making time to prioritize your own pleasure and that you find a couple new ideas from the lovely people quoted in this piece. I’m off to unplug for a bit, spend time with loved ones, and continue to let myself enjoy this moment.