2020 has been interesting. Now there’s an understatement! We've all been making adjustments and re-adjustments to our lifestyle and activities. Initially, I admit, I was surprised, frustrated and disappointed about the restrictions and lockdown. But looking back over the last 6 months, I now see that I've actually managed quite well and I suspect many of you did, too. These days, I'm focusing on what I can do rather than lamenting what I can't do. More than ever, it's important to have balance in our lifestyle. We need to look after our bodies to support physical health and we also need to look after our minds and hearts to nurture our mental and emotional health. So much uncertainty means it's more important than usual to look after ourselves and our loved ones.
I'm not a lifestyle expert, but in a spirit of sharing, I can tell you what I've observed and learned over the past 6 months about navigating this unique journey.
Here's what I notice:
It helps to start each day by doing something to look after yourself. On sunny days, for me that often means a bike ride. Not only do I get exercise(and yes, I pat myself on the back for that), I can enjoy looking at a variety of gardens, the neighbourhood activity and the changing seasons. Being outdoors keeps me in close touch with Nature and that helps me feel grounded. This gets my day off to a good start.
I sometimes run into friends and neighbours also out for a walk, jog or bike ride. This highlights something really important: our social contacts. For me, a social creature, one of the hardest aspects has been less time with friends and colleagues. I now make more phone calls to check in with friends. I admit, I'm spending more time than I used to online(sound familiar?) So the sound of a human voice is comforting and it's real.
My family is my other top priority, so I make sure I keep in close touch with my children, even though they're pretty much grown up and pursuing their studies. We all need each other right now, for reassurance, support and a hug. Simple activities like going for coffee together can make a day brighter.
Then there's the world of the imagination. I love to read, so that's an indoor activity I still pursue. I make a point of reading books that I can learn something new from as well as those that provide escape from the world around me. Speaking of reading, however, I seriously limit the amount of news I read. Keeps the worries down! I recently bought some paints and have taken up painting. That has been a wonderful creative exploration. It's so expressive and it can be entirely your own personal style. I noticed right away that I feel less constrained during a painting session, because I can express whatever I want, with any colours and textures that I choose. This is a time to celebrate your individual creative spirit, whether through music, painting, writing(my favourite way) or dance. If you love to garden or to cook, these are activities where you can still thrive. Many of these activities produce results that you can share, too. Those who own a cottage can spend time there, where the beauty and continuity of nature offer an antidote to the restrictions of city life.
Speaking of celebrating, we can still enjoy small luxuries such as a glass of good wine in the evening with our partner. Gather your favourite cheeses and salumni and have a little wine and cheese party; it’s a great way to end the day!
I think two words sum up what I have learned from this experience; caring and sharing. There’s wisdom in simple pleasures. Maybe this is the route to survival?
I hope my musings have helped some of you a little. Stay well.
Jane Staples - Wine, Food & Travel Writer and Accredited Sommelier
Photos, J. Staples