I have never felt I was good at handling vulnerability. I’ve always needed a plan to ease my nerves or else I’d drive myself crazy. 2020 has been the year that took me out of my comfort zone and forced me to embrace vulnerability and not be afraid of it.
By the end of March, I found myself trying to understand how I could navigate these uncertain times. It feels like yesterday that I was completing an internship at a not-for-profit and with a snap of a finger, life changed. The jobs I applied for were placed on hold and slowly my hopes and dreams looked like they were flying away from me.
I went from excitement about my future to a few questions on replay in my mind, including how can I move forward without stressing about finances or how long will it be until I find a job? Watching the news certainly didn’t help. All I saw was negativity or politicians fighting – playing the ‘he said, she said game’. Our leaders had become divided. They were blaming each other when they should’ve been working together. Seeing all this in the news added to my anxiety and stress levels.
I’m not normally one to be so open, but I want to share what I am going through now that I have conquered my fear of “what will people think if I admit I am a little broken?” Looking at myself in the mirror, I have decided not to undo all of my hard work. I’ve decided to focus on my thoughts, acknowledging my fears and living in the present. Coronavirus has been a test for me, to see how I can function in situations that affect humankind. While I pray we never experience a global pandemic again, I know that difficulties always come with life and I do not want to avoid them anymore.
I am happy to say that these days, I’m more confident, much stronger and more focused than the old Maria. The old me would not be dealing with this virus well, the new me is handling this unique time better. Recently I purchased this gratitude journal and I write daily, answering different prompts including what the colour “red” means to me, what I am grateful for in my life and how I’ve changed. I love it because it’s helping me see that I have so much positivity in my life. In addition to writing in my gratitude journal, I try to meditate every day, in the morning or in the afternoon.
A new method I have added to my life is The Daily Stoic, a book outlining 366 different meditation techniques. The authors have translated meditations from history’s greatest minds including Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Playwright Seneca and Slave-turned-Philosopher Epictetus. On my iPhone I have a folder dedicated to meditation. In the folder, I have the Smiling Minds, 5 Minute Journal, and Insight Timer apps. I have been using these meditation apps frequently for a year and a half and they have changed my life to the point that I’m constantly encouraging and reminding my close friends to download and use them.
Most recently, I have been going on daily walks. This was a suggestion by my psychologist to help me deal with the effects that lockdown was having on me. I absolutely love my daily walks because my mood lightens, I come home relaxed and happy. My walks remind me how lucky I am to live in a country with access to medical care, to have a roof over my head and my amazing family and friends. Not to mention the cute doggies I encounter along the way.
Lockdown has improved me in many ways. I am focused on positive outcomes; I get to feel the air on my face and meet new people on my daily walks from a safe distance and going to my local café Lady Bowers to buy my usual almond chai (one of my most favourite ways to practice self-care).
These methods have helped me immensely in lowering my anxiety and stress, and better navigating the uncertainty of the Coronavirus pandemic. I am putting one foot in front of the other and am choosing to see all the amazing opportunities lockdown has blessed me with.
Stay safe and remind yourself of how amazing you are; don’t forget that self-care should be part of your daily routine.
Please seek professional help if you are struggling, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.