Ten Ways to Find Light and Hope in Challenging Times + Recipes
It’s been an incredibly challenging year for many. We’ve been thrown many curveballs in both our business and personal lives. For some, it feels a bit like a game of dodgeball that never ends.
So, today, I’m sharing some simple daily practices and rituals that when I'm feeling in a frazzle, lift my spirits and support my mind and body in the hope that they may just do the same for you.
Before I dive in, I'd love to draw your attention to a couple of quotes that have been inspiring me lately.
Hopi Indian Chief White Eagle says this:
“This moment that humanity is living through can be considered a door or a hole. The decision to fall into the hole or go through the door is yours. If you consume information 24 hours a day, with negative energy, constantly nervous, with pessimism, you will fall into this hole. But if you take the opportunity to look at yourself, to rethink life and death, to take care of yourself and others, you will go through the door. Take care of your home, take care of your body. Connect with your spiritual home. When you take care of yourself, you take care of others at the same time"
You can read more of the quote here.
For many of us who are in lockdown in states across Australia, our freedoms have been compromised, the ability to see extended family and friends, travel outside our local government areas and live our usual lives has been taken away.
I have found Vedic meditation to very helpful in these times, my teacher Anna Young Ferris says "Freedom, from a Vedic perspective, is seen from a much deeper viewpoint and true freedom is actually none of these things. True freedom is our natural state of bliss, beyond the identification with our physical body and our mental tendencies, thoughts and the drama". For more about Vedic meditation, here is a free online intro talk.
Freedom can be as simple as switching off the news and social media, not buying into social pressures, respecting the choices of others with compassion, remaining in a state of balance and equanimity no matter what the external circumstances are and being ok living in uncertainty.
When times are difficult both externally and internally, I have found creating a self-care toolbox to dive into when needed can be helpful. I’d love to know what’s in your toolbox and what’s helping you lift your spirits right now? If we share these things collectively, we can help bring light into dark times.
Here are ten things that I include in my self-care toolbox that can help in challenging times. I hope that they may help or resonate with you.
- Tick off Your Values Daily
This year I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what I value. If I tick off my values every day, I know I’m on the right track to living a life that inspires and excites me.
My top three values are:
- Health (I know, how original?). I tick off my health value by moving my body and eating nourishing meals, and getting enough sleep.
- Personal development. I tick off personal growth through daily Vedic meditation and reading things that inspire me.
- Connection. I foster my relationships through speaking to friends or family members every day. I also make sure to listen to and support my friends during this time. Today is Are you ok day?, which serves as a gentle reminder to regularly check in with family, friends, colleagues and neighbours to make sure they are ok.
What are your values, and how can you integrate them into your daily routine? Maybe yours include creativity, balance, truth, faith, kindness, ambition, or trust?
Whatever your values may be, think about one thing you can do that aligns with your three highest values daily. While it seems relatively simple, if you don’t do anything but just tick off these three things each day, you know that you’re using the tools you have to live a life aligned with your values. Anything else is just a bonus.
- Have a Morning Routine
I’m not so strict with what goes into my morning routine, but it usually includes:
- Vedic Meditation
If you’ve read this blog here, you’ll know that I love meditation; it’s helped me through some of my most challenging times. Meditation isn’t about stopping my thoughts, becoming a monk, or levitating (although that does sound pretty good to me!). It’s about dropping into the present moment. Meditation has had a profound impact on my mental health, and I couldn’t recommend it enough.
Whether it’s a walk with my dog, online yoga class, movement is essential to get my energy going, especially in the morning. Maybe for you, it’s a walk in nature, a swim in the ocean or simply a stretch.
- Other Morning Routine Features
I also love breath-work, journaling, reading a book, and listening to an inspiring podcast.
- Create a Schedule
It can be tempting to roll straight out of bed, put the kettle on, make a cup of tea and do work in your pyjamas the whole day, but creating some sort of schedule will excel you in terms of productivity and make you feel better.
So, I recommend you:
- Get dressed as if you’re going to work.
- Set yourself a start time and end time.
- Write the three most crucial things you have to do each day.
- Prepare your meals and snacks the night before.
- Take a lunch break.
- Stock up on your favourite drinks. I’ve been making a big batch of my Turmeric Toddy to sip on all day. And I make this Lockdown Gut Immunity smoothie daily, it's got all the rainbow colours and lots of health benefits too.
- End your lunch break with a walk around the block.
- End your day with the third space.
- Invest in the Third Space
Hang on, the third what?
The third space is the transitionary space between work and home life, and it allows us to move between the two. Usually, this space is the drive or ride home from work. However, when you’re sleeping, living and working in the same room, it can be challenging to create a third space, making it hard to move out of work mode and into home mode.
Some of my favourite ways to move into the third space are:
- Take a dance break to your favourite song.
- Take a shower and wash off the workday.
- Go for a walk when you finish work.
- Do a micro meditation.
- Put your work stuff away. (This one really helps!)
- Boundary Setting
While the term boundaries gets thrown around a lot, many of us don’t know how to set clear boundaries.
If you need some help, think about your boundaries with the following:
- When do you work, and when is it time to switch off?
- What’s your relationship like with your phone? Is there a time at night that you should turn it off?
- How about social media?
- When do you connect with your people? Is it at a time that works for you, or do you take calls midday when you get a phone call?
Regardless of what your boundaries are, it’s essential to write them out and aim to stick to them to avoid any possible feelings of resentment, conflict or anxiety.
- Enjoy the Simple Pleasures
Connecting with nature and living in alignment with it is one of the best things that you can do for yourself. It helps put things into perspective, activates your parasympathetic nervous system response (that’s your rest and digest system) and clears the mind. Some ways to connect with nature are;
- Gardening: Plant a tree! Getting my green thumb on is one of my favourite ways to connect with nature. Head here for the 411 on growing your own veggies. I also just ordered and put together two new vegepods and planted them out for spring. I've planted edible greens, lettuces, spinach, rocket, kale, cucumber, basil, sage, coriander and capsicum. Roll on spring and summer greens!
- Grounding: Do you remember the feeling of having the sand or grass in between your toes as a kid? It’s pure bliss. Little did seven-year-old you know, grounding or earthing can increase feelings of alertness and energy. Why not try it today?
- Ocean swimming: if you’re near an ocean, jump in! Swimming is excellent for the immune system and is completely rejuvenating. Plus, it’s the ultimate mood booster.
- Becoming the conscious observer: learning to witness events and feelings without identifying or judging them is crucial in becoming an observer and not getting caught up in emotions. Becoming an observer is key to turning on your inner flashlight. Maybe go for a walk in nature or to a nearby park and tune into the sounds of the birds, the rustling of the trees, the sound of the earth underfoot. I promise you, you'll feel better for it.
- Declutter Your Space
If I weren’t a clinical nutritionist or author, I would be a Marie Kondo-er. There is nothing I love more than a good old spring clean. I do a wardrobe clean-out every few months you can find my tips on this here.
But perhaps, maybe it’s time to declutter your digital space.
You could try the following:
- Clean out your computer or phone and delete the things you don’t use or need anymore.
- File everything in a way that serves you.
- Delete any paid subscription services you don’t use (I mean, who needs five streaming services?).
- Cook Meals that Nourish You
As I’m not a professional declutterer and food is a passion, my favourite ways to live with more joy and lightness is to cook meals that make me feel (and others when not in lockdown) good.
- Cozy Soup: this Cozy Green Soup is the ultimate lockdown mood lifter.
- Microalgae Smoothie: my favourite gut-friendly green smoothie is my Microalgae Green Smoothie; it’s a mid-level green smoothie that levels you up!.
- Smoked Salmon, Eggs and Asparagus: if you’re missing your favourite café breakfast, do I have the treat for you! This Café-Style Smoked Salmon, Eggs and Asparagus is the perfect way to treat yourself. it's from my book Fast Your Way to Wellness. You can read more on healthy ways to flatten the curve from too much covid eating here.
- Chocolate and Coconut Roughs: we all need something sweet now and then, and who could argue with chocolate’s antioxidant benefits (not me, that’s for sure!). My Chocolate and Coconut Roughs are a crowd favourite (and by a crowd, I mean me, because, well, #lockdownlife)
- Antioxidant-Rich Salad: nourish yourself from the inside out with this Antioxidant-Rich Salad.
- Get in Touch with Your Spiritual Side
Life isn’t predictable; there are many ups and downs. These ups and downs can make it hard to keep the faith, and that’s okay; it’s part of being human. Having a spiritual belief or connection with something greater than you, whether that’s God, community, the universe, can help put things into perspective and help you lean into trust.
You don’t need to have blind faith; a spiritual practice for you might look more like being in conversation with the universe or God. Trusting in the spiritual is primarily the work of creating a connection with something greater than yourself.
There are lots of ways to create a conversation with your spiritual side.
I recommend trying:
- Closing your eyes and simply breathing
- Meditating with a mantra
- Honouring your intuition
- Spending time in solitude
- Writing down your thoughts
It’s easier to find trust in something bigger than you when you’re doing your part, not just patiently waiting for things to improve.
10. Exercise your Creative Muscles
A fun way to ignite your light is to exercise your creativity. When you do this, remember that it’s more important to enjoy the process than worry about how the outcome looks.
Some of my favourite ways to exercise creativity are:
- Writing poetry
- Taking up pottery
- Knitting – I’m currently knitting Red Cross Trauma Teddies for my local Red Cross. You can get involved here.
- Colouring in
One of the biggest challenges of being alive is witnessing the injustices of the world and not allowing them to consume our light. When we are guided by intuition and learn to tune into our inner guidance, we can be true to ourselves and live from a place of gratitude.
What I have found is that it's important to look at ourselves honestly and check for negative or dark spots, traumas, or parts of our lives that we keep hidden and then address them in a way that is most comfortable for you, that may be by speaking to a friend, a family member, a medical professional.
Letting go of fears or narratives that are holding us back, means we can look at the world with a different perspective. One where we can start to live with more lightness and compassion and move towards self love and self-reflection. Living from this place, rather than from pain or fear, opens us up to evolving into the best versions of ourselves, and it’s from this place that we can help others.
It's when we live in the light that personal and planetary transformation can occur.
I would love to know how you are finding light and hope at the moment?
Let me know in the comments below! xx
So many great things to keep our minds busy and away from all the horrible and continuous news. I am doing many of those things but this is a wonderful reminder. Thanks so much Lee
My pleasure:) lee x
I love this post 🙂 I am either doing or aware of many of your suggestions but love your advice on mindset while navigating this new world we now find ourselves in. Thank you 💜
Thank you lee x
I repeat the following words; I am patient, I am kind. Or some other positive virtues.
Then it’s out of bed and straight into body movement,/exercise.
Followed by ten minutes Christian meditation.
In the afternoon at about three. I do forty five to an hour meditation.
There’s another interesting habit. The high five habit. Started by Mel Robbins.
She was going through a difficult period in her life.
One day standing before the mirror. She started criticizing her reflection. Suddenly she stopped. Realising that what the woman staring back at her needed was encouragement. She gave her reflection a high five.
Thus began a daily routine . Where she would stand before the mirror. and think about what positive values she was going to bring into the new day. She would then end by giving her reflection a high five. Through this daily routine she gathered momentum and her life began to improve.
She posted a picture of her self giving the high five. to her reflection. on social media. Along with an explanation of what her routine consisted of.
People sent back pictures of themselves giving their reflection a high five. Stories were posted on social media by people bsaying how this daily practice had been helpful to them.
She puts it like this . The high five is associated with good thing.. Way to go! Yes! Great job! You’ve got this. The high five is cheering yourself on .
Listening to great life coaches is well great. You can get some good life lessons and a way to look at different situations.
I have an evening prayer/ meditation before calling iit a day.