*Sigh* Ah, yes. Rejuvenation. What a beautiful word, right? As I sit here writing this piece, I find myself reflecting on this time last year. I have always felt really inspired to write about rejuvenation. In fact, this time last year I was writing a piece about Rejuvenation in the New Year and how we should ditch the concept of making New Years Resolutions and move towards Inner Rejuvenation. While I still feel this way, it goes without saying that the ‘then’ and ‘now’ are somewhat different, right?
I won’t sugar coat it: 2020 was a mixed bag for many people. In my practice, I had many clients share with me that it was a year of extreme challenge for them that had really impacted their emotional well-being. I also had clients who shared that it was a year full of transformation and positive shifts as they used the time to help facilitate personal growth.
The lockdowns, social and physical distancing and the ongoing uncertainty has left some people feeling more and more anxious, depressed, and lonely. Isolation and being in a space where you may feel like so much is happening beyond your control can be challenging to move through.
This year, as I think about how we can look at rejuvenating, I am thinking more deeply about the need for rejuvenation on a soul level with a focus on our mental fitness specifically. While there is often a focus on physical fitness come January, for some this might look a little different right now, depending on what the restrictions are within your area.
The good news is, since our mental and physical health are interconnected when you tend to one you tend to the other. The first step to doing this is taking responsibility. In essence, no matter what, we are responsible for how we feel from one moment to the next. When we start to take responsibility for our mental and emotional well being, we are able to train our brain to be less reactive to the negative (the stressors) and to be more self-aware and compassionate.
While this past year brought with it quite the plot twist, what if instead of looking at it as a book you just want to put down, you write yourself in as the main character? Then you get to write your own script which will inevitably change the narrative and allow you to show up the way in which you want and need to.
This will start with developing a Soul Care Plan.
One of the main elements of the Soul Care plan is that it focuses on prevention: Oftentimes as humans, we can be reactive. Meaning, we respond to ourselves when our sirens are going off. When we are burnt out, exhausted, and can no longer sleep, we then start wondering about what we need to do in order to feel better. When we operate from a place of constantly looking to put out the fires, we end up exhausted and it can feel like a never-ending battle. The idea is to not allow the fires to start in the first place.
The Soul Care Plan is a daily ritual that you practice, even on the days you are feeling AMAZING! Having something in place, that is part of your day-to-day, will then become a habit. It also keeps the guesswork out of it, because you already know what to do. Kind of like brushing your teeth — you don’t just do it when your teeth feel dirty, you do it daily! Having a daily Soul Care Plan will also help you regain a sense of control, purpose, and leave you feeling much more grounded.
While this can look different for everyone, listed below are some ideas to keep the wheels turning.
- Keep it simple! I would say this is the most important part of the soul care plan because if it is simple enough, it will be something you can maintain.
- Daily Soul-Full Practice: Schedule in a 15-20 minute per day of something that puts you in the here and now. This could be meditation, yoga, drawing, gratitude journaling, creating music – you choose!
- Fresh Air: one thing we get less of over the winter months and through isolation is the outdoor air. Plan to get outside daily, even if it is for 5 minutes. Let your feet meet the earth and your soul will join you there. This can be a very grounding practice.
- Energy IN / Energy OUT: While social media and scrolling through the latest news reports can feel like “downtime”, you are actually expending your energy through taking in more “stuff”. Limit your time to 30 minutes per day, or less. Taking a social media break can do wonders for the soul and if you haven’t tried it yet, maybe now is the time!
- Soul Check-Ins: We are often vastly aware of what we don’t want, but rarely are we as focused on what we need. Check-in with yourself daily and ask: “what do I need in this moment?” This is a great question that immediately will prompt you to stop, go inward, and have a conversation with your soul. It is in this space, that you will find your answer. Trust it.
While the walls of our physical world and connections have contracted, there truly is space for us to expand the walls of our inner world. Seclusion, isolation, and uncertainty can be a time for inspiration, healing, and a way back to our “self”, if we let it.
Take a breath, place a hand over your heart, feel yourself grounded in this space and time, and turn towards your soul. You’ve got this. Trust that.
Leanne Sawchuk is a registered psychotherapist with a private practice in the Kitchener-Waterloo area. She works with couples and individuals, both in-person and online. You can connect with her at www.leannesawchuk.com or @leannesawchuktherapy