This month, one year ago, we spiralled into a year of fear, uncertainty and most certainly exhaustion: physically and mentally. We can look back to the year that was, what could have been, and what we have done. We all remember keeping our eyes on our screens and listening to the panic gripping nations as one by one fell into lockdowns and tough measures to ensure the survival of our species. We would not back down, we would not falter.
Like many, I struggled with motivation, coping with my mental health, and questioning absent-minded government decisions locally and abroad. Knowing full well that this pandemic could indeed last one year or longer, I strived to pick myself up whenever I fell down. I battled myself on a daily basis and wondered would I be ok? Would my family be ok? Would my beloved friends be ok? However, as much as I did this, I knew me just sitting there in my room, locked away from everyone, often avoiding being social (even on the phone) I had to confront myself and find a balance; I had to find a way to keep me moving when even all I wanted was to stop.
Behind my bed I had a bag I would fill to take with me whenever I hit the gym or needed to carry many things. For some reason, it was never emptied, even weeks after using it last. It was discarded away in the corner of my room, like I was. In my refuge I decided some spring cleaning was needed, after all, the season was upon us. Days were bright outside most of the time, but inside, inside the shelter of my room things were dim with a clenching fist gripping me with anxiety.
I started by clearing out my wardrobe, like I liked to do every few months and find what I no longer wear and give it to charity. I turned my attention to that zipped bag, probably trying to recall why I did not unpack it sooner and put any clothes or towels within into the wash. I unzipped the bag and turned it upside down - like my life had been - and out came the contents splurging along my bedside: 2 towels, one for the benches, and one for the shower, my training clothing that day, some products, some training accessories, 2 plastic shakers, one with the remnants of dry protein sticking to the bottom.
I thought to myself: why did I need everything in my bag? Of course, this is what I was used to. Growing up in my local town we would carry every single school book in our bags regardless of if we needed them or not, I guess this has helped my back strength even as a young boy. Later on into my late teenage and early adult years I would bring a bag with me to college and packed another for the gym or other activities. It was like carrying everything but the kitchen sink wherever you went for the 'just in case' moments. If I could be prepared for anything back then, I could certainly be ready for anything now. Looking at that bag reminded me of my journey so far, a long and rewarding journey. That is when it struck me: if I carry the weight of everything on me (the burdens of life) then I will truly never know what I need.
I grabbed the towels and clothes and threw them in a bundle to be washed right away. I then looked at the remainder of the pile and put away the products on the shelf, thinking as I'm going why I needed to bring lip balm, eye cream and other assortments. I was managing to put things in their rightful place, just like I started to do as often as I could from that day onward: putting my matters in their rightful place, yet, most importantly, acting upon what I said I would do.
Whether it be through schedules, a 'To Do List', working, posting online, relaxing, or exercising, I made sure I accomplished something daily. I even resorted to some deals with myself: If I do this, then I can have that as a reward, usually amounting to working a little and relaxing a little or giving myself a delicious snack . . . anything which worked! Sometimes I would fail in this regard, but most days I pushed ahead even with the TV bearing me no fruitful news. I did not depend on the opinions of others on the TV to assign myself change (all they said was stay indoors and talk about cases and deaths.) I set my sights ahead and worked towards my own future, taking a positive step in striking a balance between relaxation and work ethic.
I would say to people in these still challenging times is to not be so hard on yourself, but aim to find a balance between productivity and relaxation for your own well-being. We need to keep a close eye on our mental health and esteem, it will be the one thing we will rely on well into the future, and the devastating impact this sordid ordeal will do to mental health on the masses long after we overcome it.
Maybe you were like me (maybe you still are), and although these times are still uncertain in many aspects, the days will be brighter. Find what works for you.
I hope you find your balance.