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Jon Kabat Zinn quote

This famous quote from Jon-Kabat-Zinn tells us that life will go on. Difficult times will come, but our job is to learn how to surf, not get dragged under.

This quote is so apt at the moment. Wave after wave of difficult news, restrictions, uncertainty have left most of us feeling more stressed and depleted than ever. I’d like to share what has helped me personally to ride the waves, rather than get wiped out, although at times it’s been close!

Express Gratitude – Every morning I write a list of 5 to 10 people, places, things, or opportunities that I am grateful for. This has really helped me not to sink into self-pity or despair and has reminded me that I still have much to enjoy.

Acknowledge feelings – Life moves quickly and our lives are busy. Sometimes this means that not only do we not find time to sit and smell the roses, we also don’t take the time to stop and acknowledge our feelings. Instead, we react to life with a lack of awareness of what we are bringing to our daily interactions. Each morning I meditate and recognise how I am feeling. But if meditation isn’t your thing, you could just check in with your feelings when you drink your morning cuppa, saying out loud or in your head, right now I’m feeling… in three words.

Give yourself permission to grieve – I have been making an effort to give myself permission to grieve for what I have lost and be open to the idea that I might also be experiencing anticipatory grief too.

Grief, as a feeling, isn’t just for the really big losses. I’m very fortunate not to have lost a loved one this year, but it is also for the other things that we may not have given ourselves permission to grieve for because we don’t see them as ‘worthy’ or justified reasons to feel strong emotion.

The first step to grieving for me has been acknowledging how I’m feeling and then finding an appropriate way to express my feelings. When I can’t identify or express how I feel it can be very hard to move on. It’s easier than to become trapped in a cycle of feeling low, angry, and being very reactive.

Start before you’re ready – Since the start of the year many of us have had new ideas about how we could earn money, improve our health, our living conditions, but we’ve told ourselves we can’t start, because of x,y or z. My advice is to start anyway. It may not be the beginning you’d planned, it may be slower, there may be more mistakes, but there will be progress. Not starting has a 0% success rate, whereas starting will definitely have a higher success rate and you will be learning from any setbacks. (If your health is preventing you from starting something new, work on your health first and take advice from health professionals)

Be flexible – Now is not the time to be rigid and narrow-minded. When I am rigid in my ideas I usually end up angry and disappointed. Sometimes accepting that things haven’t gone my way takes time, it’s not my strongest skill, but it gets better with practice and I feel better quicker and usually find a solution once I’ve accepted the reality, even if I don’t like it.

Have a plan B – In an ideal world the kids will go back to school, covid-19 will disappear, we will be able to travel, work and socialise as we did before and businesses will bounce back. Given the year so far, I’m not pinning my hopes on it. I’m preparing for another homeschooling scenario, not panicking though. I’m taking action to ensure that I am better prepared and in optimum health, should I catch the virus and I am mentally preparing and accepting of winter with very little social contact. Just getting your head around plan B is better than pinning your hopes on plan A and then being furious when it doesn’t work out.

Ask for help – If you are in a tight financial position, struggling at home with the intensity of your kids, need to improve your health and fitness, feeling scared, or depressed, but you don’t know what to do, reach out. Call a helpline or a trusted friend. Ask your bank what they can do, contact the school, and ask if they can help. Be honest about what you need. I have felt very alone at times, financially scared, worried for my health, but speaking to someone or even writing it down helps. Acknowledging what you are facing, or that you are struggling, really is the first step to feeling better and improving the situation.

Thank you so much for reading, and remember, keep moving!
The Team and Leap Fitness – Jonas & Jordan