How To Strengthen Yourself Post-Pandemic
Here's a reminder that there is hope to start over, to be more mentally resilient, and to nourish and attend to your truest needs.
Crowds rushing to the malls. Families and friends gathering on the weekends. Businesses reopening. Travel industries booming. Face masks off. Traffic jams everywhere. This is it! Welcome to the post-pandemic era!
After two long years of lockdowns, anxieties, work-from-home set ups, different kinds of losses, and varying coping mechanisms, we are now seemingly back to normal. But even when we have our new found routines, many of us are still recovering from the aftermath of the pandemic. Whether your health deteriorated, lost a business, witnessed the passing of a loved one, or had some relational strife, truth be told, we all went through a collective grief when ‘rona dampened our lives.
TIME TO GET A GRIP
As cliché as it sounds—life goes on. This isn’t to passively dismiss or invalidate all the painful tunnels we’ve gone through. It is, however, a reminder that there is hope to start over, to be more mentally resilient, and to nourish and attend to our truest needs. To put it bluntly, it’s time to get a grip of ourselves and our lives.
THE BODY & MIND CONNECTION
When I was young, my grandmother made me & my twin memorize this quote. She made us chant it everyday. Obviously, it deeply stuck with me:
“Watch your thoughts, they become your words. Watch your words, they become your actions. Watch your actions, they become your attitude. Watch your attitude, they become your destiny.”
The more we let a thought simmer, the more our bodies are influenced by it. If you’re like me, you’ve let your body take over your mind during the pandemic, especially when it came to habits, probably as a means to cope.
Bored? Online shop. Nothing to do? Scroll. Emotional? Eat.
I used to pay no attention to how my daily habits affected my overall life, but now that I’m confronted with how bad they are and how negatively they’re impacting me, I know it’s time for an intervention. Habits may seem “little”, but a little everyday is still a lot. They accumulate whether we like it or not.
LET’S GET… MENTAL!
Since mindset is the biggest driving force of our actions and responses, it’s time to feed our minds with good and encouraging truths. Garbage in, garbage out. What we consume mentally will definitely affect the way we conduct ourselves.
Before we even get to other personal aspects we want to improve on, we must ask: How do I think? What fuels this thinking? Does this kind of mindset benefit me?
Prerequisite to transforming our bodies, minds, and hearts, we must first renew our minds. Remember: the behavior is the fruit, the mindset is the root. Once we see the flaws of how we process things mentally, it’s easier to correct them. Full disclaimer though, cleaning up our mental messes takes a lot of work. It makes us confront the ugly parts within. But now is the perfect time to roll up our sleeves and dig through the mud. Once we get out of our own way and let our egos step aside, it’s a lot easier to understand why we do what we do, extend self-compassion, and get equipped with the tools necessary for us to move on. When we get to a deeper knowledge of who we are—intricacies, complexities and all—it increases the desire to truly change, and it gives us a defined vision of who we want to be.
HERE’S WHERE I’M AT
Most of my followers know I’m all for authenticity online. In the sea of hyper-curated photos and euphemized narratives, I prefer to keep things raw and real, even at the expense of the much protected "self-image". They say social media is killing our genuine humanness, but it all depends on how we use them. It’s funny that my editor assigned me to write this article, because honestly, I’m in the season of transforming my life as I’m forced to face the consequences of accumulated bad habits and some of life’s unpleasant surprises.
Here are some of the things I want to encourage you with to get a grip, and get your mojo back!
- FUEL YOUR BODY RIGHT. You don’t gas up your car with incompatible fuel, right? So why do we do the opposite with our bodies? What I noticed is that when I stick to a good, clean diet (meaning no junk, seed oils, sugar, and carbs), my mental clarity improves, my mood swings drastically lessen, and my energy is at its optimum. Feeding our bodies whole foods and complete proteins (lean animal sources), greatly influences our mental health and behavior.
- DANCE A
LITTLELOT. Movement makes me feel alive. Factually, our bodies weren’t designed to be sedentary, so we gotta find things we enjoy that make us move! If going to the gym is too daunting for you, look for other ways to sweat. May it be taking a walk, going for a swim, biking around your neighborhood or blasting Beyonce’s Renaissance album and getting your groove on, the key here is to clock in a few minutes of cardio a day. Start short. It doesn’t have to be a full hour on your first day. Consistency is key, and once you get the hang of it, the minutes will inevitably increase.
- SAVOR THE LITTLE THINGS. Doing simple things you enjoy can boost your confidence & give you your sense of self back. Whether it be getting dressed, putting makeup on, pursuing a hobby, spending quality time with your favorite people, make sure you prioritize it and really be in the moment. No phones! Savoring and being present in the things that spark joy increase happy hormones and give you a heightened sense of self-fulfillment, especially when you practice gratitude with it.
- STUDY YOUR HISTORY. It’s time for a history class on YOU. Have you ever wondered why you react the way you do? Why you have a specific relationship pattern? Why you cope a certain way when things don’t go as planned? It took me 30 years to get over myself and get ME. From studying my attachment style, to analyzing my caretaker dynamics and the repercussions of it, this unearthing gave me deeper understanding and valuable insights on why I am the way I am. Parts of the discovery will be hard to swallow, but now that I see the bigger reasons behind my habits and coping styles, it made it easier to observe myself during situations I act out poorly, and strategize better when I’m falling back into my old self-harming, and self-sabotaging patterns.
- DO A RELATIONAL INVENTORY. This isn’t to minimize the depth of your relationships; think of it as a quality and inventory check on where you’re investing your time, emotions, and resources. Are the people closest to you adding value to your life? Do they care about you enough to rebuke and correct you when you’re being moronic and toxic? It’s true, we are the average of the five people we spend most our time with, and as Scriptures say, “bad company corrupts good character.” It’s time to reassess the relationships we’ve tethered ourselves to—and be honest about them! The people we keep connections with greatly impact our emotional well-being, so we must choose wisely. If it’s time to seek out mentorship and grow through life with someone we can trust and look up to, start looking. If it’s time to seek out therapy to process unresolved childhood trauma to better our adult relationships, begin the search. Seeking help to flourish as a grown individual is an admirable and wise pursuit.
- FEED YOUR SOUL. I read an article before that said increasing our spiritual quotient (SQ) may be the most important factor in navigating through life. SQ is the sum of our emotional and intellectual quotients. Increasing our SQ allows us to strive, dream, and hope for good things, while enabling us to make wise decisions. Let’s face it, many areas of life are colored in grays, and asking what’s the right thing to do in a certain situations requires a lot of wisdom. In a time when humans are primarily seen as consumers, I think it’s about time we got back in touch with our souls. Study theology. Seek God. Join a spiritual family. Be ready to unlearn things and learn new ones as well. As a believer, knowing that there is a good God who relentlessly loves me and knows me better than I do gives me a better perspective and meaning on life.
The pandemic may have taken away from us, but the good thing is, it also revealed a lot about our inner worlds—things that would remain hidden if COVID-19 didn’t happen. Self-awareness is the first step to true change, but we must be willing to work out our transformation. It never comes easy, but it is one voyage that is well worth taking. It’s true, some storms come not to drown us, but to clear our paths. We all need suffering to a certain degree, because given the right outlook, mindset, and responses, it makes us empathic, stronger, and much more human. My hope for you and I is that we see ourselves for who we really are, and fight for who we ought to be.
Now put those dancing shoes on, it’s time to get our groove back!