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Navigating yourself during COVID-19

I debated writing this as I know it seems like we can’t get away from COVID-19 at the moment. It’s everywhere - on the news, every ad on the radio, even in our inboxes (I did NOT know how many companies had my email until every single one of them decided to email me in the span of a week!). Not to mention its on our minds and in our hearts all the time.

Currently it has been over three weeks since the government of Canada has mandated that we all do our part to mitigate the spread of the virus and stay home. I have been social distancing myself, along with my husband and 9 month old daughter, in our two bedroom condo for over 21 days now. I was going to list all the things that we have missed out on, but I won’t because I know this is everyone’s reality right now - there’s no need to rehash it.

As a first time mama to a baby under 1, I know what it's like to feel trapped and isolated at home as the newborn phase wasn’t all that long ago. I know how it is to have all the days melt into one another and have no idea if it is Monday afternoon or Friday evening. But this seems so much different than that… harder even. Because while the newborn phase is hard, there seems to be an end in sight. You can have friends over. You can wander aimlessly around the mall. You aren’t chained to your house. My spouse left for the day. There were pockets of time where you were completely by yourself and while they were scarce, they were there.

I can tell that this is starting to weigh heavily on my mental health. Never have Samir and I been forced to spend all this time in each other spaces while we're both worried, anxious, and stressed. Never have I had to keep my 9 month old entertained all day without any support from things like Rhyme Time or play dates. I find I am tired, sad, frustrated, angry… all the emotions all at once. And I know I am not alone.

So while I know we are all in the same position I wanted to share a few of the things I am doing to help myself feel better. Some of these practices I came up with through past experiences with anxiety and others I have gained from my amazing Mom Tribe. I hope that you can find something here that will help you navigate these unprecedented times we're experiencing. I know that some of these practices will continue to be beneficial long after the saga of COVID-19 is done!

  1. Find the Positives "Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." Melody Beattie

I know that I have a tendency to see the negative well before being able to appreciate the positive in life. It's easier for me to focus on what is going wrong rather than what is working in my favour. When I feel like I am walking around with a rain cloud over my head, I find that by listing out what I am grateful for I am able to see the sunshine again. In fact, my sister and I have taken to texting three things we are grateful for each day in an effort to see the positives in these seemingly dark times.

I have also created a weekly gratitude form that I will print and save to help me remember all the positives in my life during an extremely difficult time. Feel free to save and use yourself!

2. Write it out

While journaling your thoughts and feelings is not a new concept for me, using specific writing prompts is. A mom friend of mine shared in our group what prompts she is using to help her hash out her feelings and focus in on things she can and cannot control. I have found this extremely helpful. It has helped me see the bigger picture as well as hone in on smaller increments of time or feelings so as to not get overwhelmed. Below you will find an example you can use and edit as you like. In addition to working through all my feelings, I think this will also end up being a great way to document this crazy time. To be able to look back on this and say we survived!

3. Move it out

If you’ve been following me for a bit then you know working out has been an important part of my routine for a bit now. I was going to the gym three times a week and moving my body in other ways the other four days of the week. Not being able to go to the gym, have intense work outs, and see my people has been so so hard! Combine that with our small living space, this has been a real struggle for me and my husband.

So in our household we have decided to move our bodies one way or another everyday. This means we take Lola for walk outside or we throw on random body-weight YouTube workout videos. Our trainer has also posted some at home work outs for us to do. It’s in no way perfect but we are trying. I notice my mood is lighter after our work outs. I have accepted I won’t be seeing the dramatic results I was expecting but I that's ok!.

Check out the intense 800 rep workout Nicci wants Samir and I to do a minimum of twice a week!

4. Talk it out

All of these practices are ways you can help yourself to manage your feelings but sometimes seeking out professional help is necessary. Just recently our Mom Tribe booked a virtual group therapy session with Chelsea at Village Therapy and honestly it was the best thing I have done for my mental health in a while! After that session I went back and looked at her availability for one on one sessions. I know myself enough to know when I need a little more help to manage my feelings and mental headspace. These are intense times and an experience I have never navigated before. It makes sense to need to reach out and hash it out with a neutral voice who can offer real guidance through all of this. While Village therapy is one local-to-Calgary option, I encourage you to see what mental health resources are available to you in your area. Its ok to not be ok right now and mental health professionals are an amazing resources to help us all get through this pandemic.

While I know none of these practices are new, earth shattering ideas, they are practices that have helped me in the last few weeks - I hope they help you too! Remember we're all out here doing our best and that's enough!

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