3 IMPORTANT Lessons I Learned About Resilience in 2019 ✨ | + Tips on Remaining Resilient During Difficult Times

My beautiful friend Olivia (check out her blog here) wrote a post about the lessons she learned in 2019. I thought I’d continue this momentum and discuss the lessons 2019 taught me about resilience.

Not going to lie, 2019 was a bad year. Like really bad…

At the beginning of 2019, I ironically chose the word “resilience” as my word for the year because resilience was something I was hoping to learn more about and incorporate into my everyday life.

Resilience (noun) re-sil-ience
“The process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats or significant sources of stress… it means bouncing back from difficult experiences”

resilience definition

A year later, I didn’t realize just how much 2019 was going to teach me about being resilient… From experiencing housing issues to losing a family member, I really feel like I experienced it all 2019. Despite all of my personal challenges, I learned a lot as a result of my setbacks this year. Before I get into my blog post, I want to preface it by saying, if you are struggling with any mental health issues, it’s important to seek help and work through your struggles with a qualified professional. Given my personal experience with hardship this year, I will share the top 3 lessons 2019 taught me about resilience:


Resilience Lesson 1: It’s okay to not be okay

After feeling “not okay” at times throughout this year, I feel like I have a better understanding of why it’s okay to not be okay.

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For years I looked at this quote and never really understood it. In all honesty, I kind of thought it was a stupid quote because none of us want to feel “not okay”. Thinking of social media, we tend to post our best experiences and highlights of our lives, while down-playing the hardships we endure in silence. In feeling “not okay”, it’s easy to feel alone because nobody wants to talk about our hardships, and we fear sharing our negative experiences is almost like “airing our our dirty laundry”.

In reality, it is 100% completely normal to experience difficult times and we all go through periods where we are not okay. In fact, it’s part of the human experience. Life is full of ups and downs. Life is difficult sometimes too. Life is beautiful, yet it can be full of adversity. In feeling “not okay” it’s easy to feel like something is wrong with us, however, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

It’s okay to feel pain, it’s okay to feel discomfort, it’s okay to feel lonely, it’s okay to feel grief.

Rather than focus on ignoring these feelings and putting on a smile, sit with these feelings and work through them. Find an open ear to talk about your feelings, whether it be a counsellor or a friend. Ask for help when you need it. At the end of the day it’s about riding with the waves, showing up for yourself, feeling the pain, and loving yourself through the good and bad times. It’s about working through the difficult moments, one step at a time and learning about yourself in the process.


Resilience Lesson 2: “There is always good things in the storm”

56d85ab3a597a73eb90c293655e29c7f.jpgThis year, I counted my blessings and learned the importance of GRATITUDE! To explain this concept, I’ll start with an analogy. In March of this year, I helped clean up my university campus through participating in a garbage pick-up day. This pick-up day occurred after some campus clubs had gone around and picked up trash, so the campus did not look bad at first sight. With a trash bag in hand, I scoured the campus with some fun people and picked up any garbage in sight. As I started looking for garbage, I started to notice small pieces of wrappers lingering in the bushes, cigarette butts hiding in the cracks on the sidewalks, and beer bottles hiding in the snowbanks. For weeks after picking up garbage, I couldn’t help but notice the garbage that was all around me. Any time I went outside, I noticed small pieces of garbage everywhere. It was as if I had changed my focus and now started to recognize all of the garbage that was around me.

What’s interesting about our perceptions is we have the ability to change them. As the spring brought forward lots of plants, flowers and leaves, I started to shift my attention to notice that even with all the garbage around me, there were still beautiful things. As I shifted my focus to notice all of the flowers around me, I began to appreciate the beauty of nature.

gratitude definitionGratitude is a way of noticing the goodness in the world, without being blind of the difficult things that we all experience at times.

Gratitude allows us to continue to see the good, even throughout bad times. Gratitude is like seeing the flowers throughout all the garbage around us.

Connecting this to my own personal life, the quote “every day may not be a good day, but there is good in every day” comes to mind. Despite this horrible year, I was still able to have some pretty awesome accomplishments and good moments scattered throughout the storm. I found my community at a local spin studio and achieved my dream of becoming a spin instructor. I finally finished writing my Master’s Thesis (and will be defending it later this month and graduating in June!), I moved out of my childhood home and took “adulting” to a new level when I got offered my dream job. Even with the sad times that were highly prevalent in 2019, I still had many positive moments throughout the storm.


Resilience Lesson 3: Focus on Self-Care

To help myself get through the year, I tuned my focus inwards and prioritized my own self-care.

self care definitionSelf-Care
“Any activity that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional, and physical health”

Self-care is about identifying your needs and taking care of your own health. It’s about finding strategies (you enjoy) that help you take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. These strategies should help to refuel your mind and body. Everyone is different and you don’t necessarily have to do it all, but finding the coping strategies that work for you are key.

Some of the self-care practices which helped me be more resilient in 2019 included:

1. COMMUNITY

This year, I was fortunate to connect with a few different communities and I focused on participating in group exercise. I tried yoga classes, spin classes, boxing classes which helped me connect with others and get myself out the house. I was able to meet some amazing people in my community through group exercise, which helped me feel more connected and less alone.

2. PHYSICAL HEALTH

As mentioned above, participating in group exercise classes helped me focus on obtaining adequate physical activity this year. Although this strategy does not work for everyone – being physically active is how I enjoy taking care of my body. For me personally, I like to think of exercise as a “mindfulness” practice because it forces me to focus on the present moment and enjoy my workout. Trying group exercise classes, becoming a spin instructor, and going to the gym were my favourite ways to care for my physical health. In addition to fitness, I focused on sleep. I ensured I was getting enough sleep each night by waking up at the same time each morning, which helped me feel more energized and ready to tackle my day.

3. NUTRITION

I’ve been pretty open about my dietary struggles with allergies and stomach issues. This year I got serious about eating foods that made me feel my best (and did not trigger reactions). Speaking with a dietitian helped me figure out the foods that worked best with my body, and I focused on incorporating foods that were rich in protein, healthy fats, and whole grain carbohydrates. It’s amazing how much better you feel when you’re not bloated or feeling sick from the foods you are eating.

4. MENTAL HEALTH

I focused on my mental health this year through attending regular counselling sessions, journaling, and “saying no” to commitments or things that did not bring me joy. I focused on treating myself like a friend, and I tried to be non-judgemental towards myself as I worked through things. Even though I still have a lot of work to do in this aspect of well-being, I definitely made some strides forward with self-love and self confidence.


Moving forward and looking at 2020, I am looking forward to a new start. My word for this year is “fierce” because I would like to live my life with transparency and I want to live unapologetically. Even though there’s plenty of things I still need to work on, I am grateful for all the lessons 2019 has taught me, and I am excited to move into 2020 with a “fierce” attitude. I am ready to tackle my goals, get things done, and do more of what I love.

Cheers to 2020!

xoxo,

Heather 💕

three important lessons i learnd about resilience in 2019

 

How I Overcame Anxiety and Started Working Out: The 5 Lessons I Learned 💕

woman looking at sunsetDealing with anxiety has been my greatest challenge in life, as it prevents me from doing many of the activities I enjoy. It’s always there, in the background, stopping me from getting out the door, trying new activities and even driving. At my lowest point, I quit my favourite sport (softball), stopped exercising because I was too nervous to go to the gym, and I didn’t leave my house for two weeks. Getting help for my anxiety was the BEST decision I could have made for myself. It took the help of a school counsellor that connected me with resources to get myself out the door and prevent anxiety from controlling my life.

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Photo credit: https://www.wlu.ca/life-at-laurier/services-for-students/wellness.html

My counsellor recommended I try a program offered through my school’s Athletics Complex called, “I Move My Mood”. Within the program, I was paired with a ‘buddy’ who would meet with me twice per week, and we would exercise together. The girl I was paired with was very nice and confident in the gym. She showed me how to do a bunch of exercises and helped to correct my form (which was one of my biggest barriers to going to the gym). It was through this program that I realized that people weren’t judging me for having the wrong form, or not knowing what I was doing.

After completing the program, I was determined to continue exercising, however I was still terrified to set foot in the gym by myself. A year of trial and error later, I now find myself a regular gym-goer and have overcome the barriers that used to prevent me from going. To overcome my anxiety and begin working out, I will share the 5 main lessons I learned, so you too can overcome anxiety and start exercising.

Lesson #1: Find a buddy or someone to keep you accountable

casual cheerful daylight friendsSocial support is no joke. As humans, there is something about the social environment that helps motivate us, keeps us accountable, and makes us feel connected. Throughout my struggles with anxiety, I often find that I socially isolate myself and feel disconnected. Finding one person to encourage and motivate me really helped to get myself out of the house – as my buddy was counting on me. Having someone to talk to also helped me feel that I was socially connected with the world, which helped reduce feelings of loneliness and depression. After the program ended, I found a new buddy to help me feel confident and maintain my accountability (you can check out her blog here).

Lesson #2: Take Baby steps

beach water steps sand

Celebrate the little accomplishments you make. Maybe getting up and out of bed is the furthest you got today – but that is still a step in the right direction! After the commencement of the program, I still wasn’t 100% confident to go to the gym alone, so I started walking with my mom. Thirty-minute walks turned into 45-minute walks, and I found that an activity as simple as walking made me feel so much better mentally. This then motivated me to start exercising at the gym with my new buddy. Then exercising with my buddy increased my confidence and I began going to the gym alone.

The first time I went to the gym alone was a huge accomplishment for me, as I actually got in the car and drove there! The pride I felt from overcoming this barrier translated to other aspects of my life – as I now don’t feel as anxious driving places. To make myself feel comfortable at the gym, I came prepared with a basic exercise plan that had exercises I was comfortable doing. As I felt more confident in the gym, I decided to try new exercises – the ones I wanted to try for curiosity and for fun! As I continued to try new things, I learned what did and did not work for me. This has lead me to today, where I find myself looking forward to my workouts because I have found exercises that make me feel strong and confident.

Lesson #3: Do the activities you actually enjoy!

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I tried synchronized swimming this year, I met a lot of great people and had so much fun!

Don’t do the exercises or the workouts you think you should do, do the activities you actually enjoy doing! If you love walking – do it! Any change you make to your current routine will make a difference. Working out and getting healthy doesn’t need to be done at the gym – you can get active playing sports, running or exercising at home. If you pick an activity you love, chances are you will not dread doing it, and you will actually be more motivated to stick with it. Do activities that excite you and fill your soul.

This past year, I decided to give synchronized swimming a try, and I joined my school’s novice synchronized swimming team. Not only did I get to participate in swimming (one of my favourite activities), I also got to meet other girls that had similar interests! I had to opportunity to travel with the team to two competitions, and we came in 4th place for our routine at one of the competitions. Not only did I get the physical benefit from swimming, I also branched out and made some awesome social connections, which improved my mood and my confidence.

Lesson #4: Set a goal and track your progress

A goal without a plan is simply a dream. To turn your physical activity goals into reality, it is important that you set goals, come up with a game-plan and track your progress. (For some tips on goal setting, check out my article on Goal Setting here). For me, my goal began small – to exercise twice per week, whether it be going for a walk, going to the gym (with my buddy), or going on a bike ride. I tracked my progress using The Calendar Method. Looking back at each month and seeing that I had exercised twice per week really encouraged me to continue. As I succeeded with my goal and became more confident in going to the gym alone, I eventually changed it to exercising at the gym twice per week, and I began a strength training program. To track my progress, I weighed myself, took progress photos and recorded my reps and sets of each exercise. Even though my body didn’t change based on my weight, I noticed that my progress photos began to look more muscular and the weight of my exercises increased. In the months where I saw very small changes, I tweaked my plan and began focusing on my nutrition to see further progress. Seeing these subtle changes motivated me to continue. (For FREE monthly calendars to track your fitness progress, you can also check them out here)!

Lesson #5: Don’t be so critical on yourself.

self-loveIt’s important to know that your while you are on your fitness journey, you are going to mess up. You will do an exercise or two with improper form, and there will be days where you feel unmotivated. Instead of being critical on yourself, think about what you would tell your best friend if they were in your situation. When you fail, rather than judge yourself, evaluate yourself. Figure out what when ‘wrong’ and come up with a new game plan. Treat yourself with kindness and support yourself as if you were your own best friend.

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Feeling gym-confident 💕

Today, I am still making changes to my exercise plan and am still coming up with new activities or exercises that I enjoy doing. Anxiety is hard to deal with, but sometimes just getting yourself out the door is the smallest, yet most life-changing step you can make. I hope these 5 lessons help to motivate you to begin your own fitness journey. I’d love to hear any additional tips you use to overcoming mental health struggles in the comments below.

I hope you have a lovely day!

xoxo,

Heather 💕

how i overcame

Spring Grounding: A 5-Step Mindfulness Mediation

Sometimes all we need is to take a moment to ourselves and to observe the calmness around us. In this simple mindfulness activity, you can learn how to relax and take a moment to calm your day. This simple activity is a grounding activity that will bring you into the present moment and help you to overcome feeling overwhelmed, anxious, “out of body” or unable to focus. Turn off your phone and put away all distractions for the next five minutes as you complete this Mindfulness Moment 💕.

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Begin by sitting outdoors, in a safe and comfortable spot. Sit upright and relax. Take some deep breaths – in through the nose, and out through the mouth. Notice how you begin to feel relaxed.

  1. As you sit, begin to notice the world around you. What do you see? Notice how vibrant and colorful the grass is. You may notice birds flying around or landing in the trees above you. Really take a moment to observe all the beauty there is. Take a moment to look around and identify at least 5 different things that you can see.
  2. Next, bring your attention to the sensations you are feeling. As you are sitting, feel yourself melting into the chair, or into the earth. Take a deep breath and notice all that you feel around you. It could be your feet against the rough ground, your back pressed up against your chair, or the warmth of the sun on your skin. Take another moment to yourself to acknowledge this present moment, and identify 5 sensations you feel.
  3. Close your eyes and shift your attention to your breath. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Shift your attention to the sounds around you. What do you hear? You many notice the cicadas humming in the background, or the birds communicating with one another. Perhaps you hear a lawnmower buzzing in the distance. Take this moment to identify at least five different sounds you hear. Notice how busy the world is, while you sit in silence and enjoy its abundance of life.IMG_2405
  4. With your eyes still closed, shift your attention back to your breath. While breathing, focus your attention on the fragrance around you. What do you smell? You may notice the smell of freshly cut grass, or the smell of a flower garden. Perhaps you can smell the fresh spring air or the crisp autumn leaves. Take a moment to yourself to identify three different aromas you can smell. How do they make you feel?

Repeat this activity one or two more times to help ground yourself and bring yourself to the present moment.

To gently awaken yourself and bring yourself back to your day, wiggle your fingers and toes. Pause for a moment to appreciate yourself for taking this brief moment to enjoy the world around you. Set an intention for the rest of your day, and know that you will return to your life with a clearer mind. Enjoy today 💕SpringGrounding

I have created a five-minute Mindfulness Moment meditation track JUST FOR YOU to accompany this Mindfulness Moment activity. In this track, titled: Spring Grounding: A Mindfulness Moment Meditation, I walk you through this simple grounding exercise to refresh your day.

Here’s where you can find the FREE five-minute Mindfulness Moment meditation track. In this track, titled: Spring Grounding: A Mindfulness Moment Meditation, I walk you through this simple grounding exercise to refresh your day.

I hope you enjoyed this Mindfulness Moment. Practicing Mindfulness Moments has really helped me overcome anxiety, reduce stress and maintain a calm state throughout my busy day. I would appreciate your feedback on my meditation track and this activity in the comments below! 🙂 For more fun articles, I would recommend you click here for an entire list! I hope you enjoy and have a beautiful day!

Sincerely,

Heather 💕