2020 was quite a year, I think we can all agree. It was challenging for everyone and forced us to think of new ways of working, socializing and living our lives. As a small business owner in a pandemic, I had to completely shift the way we were doing things to stay afloat. By the beginning of April 2020, my Valencia retail shop was boarded up, I had to furlough my SF team and part of my NY Team. Our crew went from eight to four and we all started working remotely from home. We pivoted from a large wholesale business and retail shop to conducting the majority of our business through online sales, social media and virtual appointments. Then, right as we got into a real swing of things and I had re-hired most of my team back, I suffered a great personal tragedy. I lost Kamran, my beloved partner of 10 years.
In all the years that I've been running my business, this was the first time I was forced to fully step away. I was fragile and broken and had so much on my plate. In the midst of it all, I was in the process of closing up my SF Shop and moving to the East Coast. Shortly thereafter, one of the most important role models of my life, my Gram also passed away. This happened just two months after losing Kam. It was an incredibly stressful and painful time as I was struggling with heartbreak and loss. My team, family, friends, customers and community offered me loving support. I feel so blessed that my team swooped in and took the reins for me. This gave me space to breathe through my pain so I could prioritize my mental health.
As I navigated through so much change, I started making the following three things my mental health rituals:
I've journaled on and off throughout most of my adult life, but I had really picked up my practice right before the pandemic began. I started writing at least three pages a day, usually first thing in the morning. You can start with your dreams! I think dreams are so telling sometimes, other times they don't make any sense. Journaling is like having a conversation with your mind and soul. It's a safe way to express all your thoughts and emotions without judgment. I like to write in a stream of consciousness, and when I'm done I can separate myself from my thoughts and evaluate how I am and what I need next from an external view. If you become an avid journaler like me, there's nothing worse than running out of pages when you're in a flow. I like to buy three or four journals at a time. I also have a special home for my journal alongside my favorite pen. It's a beautiful morning ritual.
While the practice of just sitting still can seem insignificant, I can tell you that the results are astonishing. Meditation has been proven to help reduce anxiety, depression and psychological pain of all kinds. I started small, with just one or two minutes a morning and now I usually sit for about 10-15 minutes. On very stressful days, I might take an extra 3-5 minutes to shut my eyes and recenter myself throughout the day. You know that quote, "You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes everyday -- unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour."
Back in September 2020, when my heart was aching the most, I had a hard time even getting out of bed. I knew I had to keep moving forward so I started walking (A LOT). I began with micro movements (like a lap around the block) and slowly progressed. On most days, I walk 4-5 miles. Movement is good medicine... and I started developing this daily ritual with Miglia (my dog and our CMD mascot). Even through the thick of winter, we would walk down the the beach or in the neighborhood -- rain, snow or shine. I think walking is the best thing you can do for your body on a regular basis if you are blessed to have working legs. It has been absolutely essential to my daily mental health practice. Walking gets my body moving and clears my mind. If you can't get out in the morning, try an after-dinner walk. Start with that lap around the block as your minimum baseline. Oh the places you'll go!
On days when I don't practice these rituals, I really feel it. These three simple things have had such an impact on my mental health and surely negates my entire day.
I want to hear from you -- what has been essential for you and your mental health throughout the last year or so? Let me know in the comments if you do any of the above, and how it affects you!
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