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Finding Calm in the Chaos

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Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government issued a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for permitted purposes or activities, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for work where the work cannot be done remotely. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people’s mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. Please follow the guidelines, and check before engaging in any activity, as guidelines change often. This blog post is intended for inspiration only when safe to do so. For updated info on COVID-19 please visit https://covid-19.ontario.ca/

As we enter yet another lockdown and stay at home order, it can leave us feeling depleted, drained, unmotivated, lonely, and a host of other unwelcome emotions. This can negatively affect not only our mental state but also our physical health and overall well being. It is so important, now more than ever, to proactively engage in activities to balance the added stress in our lives.

We are Jess and Nate, owners of Creekside Yoga in Stirling Ontario. We are going to dig into our own personal toolkit to share with you some of our favourite ways to keep us on the level and not only survive this turbulent time but even thrive as a result.

Jess and Nate at the counter

Get outside

During the winter months we spend extra time indoors, eat more, exercise less, which can alone effect how we are feeling both physically and mentally, even without the current situation. We are very blessed to live in Hastings County with so much great outdoor space.

Try being a tourist in your own backyard. We have been taking the opportunity to discover some of the many conservation areas we have yet to visit. Most recently a trip to Vanderwater Conservation area led us on a beautiful adventure through the forest and along the mighty Moira river. As well as a hit of cleaner air and getting our bodies moving, spending time in nature can drastically reduce our stress response, something we can all use right now. 

Skating in the great outdoors is also something we cannot get enough of every winter, whether a local outdoor rink or just Mill Pond across the street.

Plan a day to go explore, get outside with the whole family, and take in the natural beauty that surrounds our region.

Jess of Creekside Yoga Readoing a magazine

Mindful Activities

It’s way too easy to start binging on Netflix, social media, and the latest updates in the news. Too much screen time can negatively affect our moods, energy levels, and sleep patterns, creating a negative feedback loop that can be tough to break. Mix it up with activities to stimulate your brain and have some fun. 

We LOVE to puzzle. It is so satisfying to find two pieces that fit together. We are currently working on a 2000 piece puzzle of many of the worlds wonders.

We also love to read. We share books and have a subscription to National Geographic magazine. With a new issue coming every month it gives some urgency to complete the previous issue, and you can learn so many interesting facts along the way.

Games are fun for the whole family and our favourite is cribbage (amazing for working on adding skills). Schedule a games night once a week to help get family members away from the screens to connect, laugh, share, and invigorate minds.

couple smiling in a sunflower field

Volunteer

Have some extra time on your hands these days? Consider volunteering some of that time to a local service club or organization in need. Volunteers play an essential role in the community to help support and fund local initiatives. It can even be something as simple as shovelling your neighbours snow after a storm or offering to pick up groceries for someone on your street.

We volunteer at the local food bank and another wonderfully run organization Community Care for Central Hastings, delivering hot and frozen meals to residents in Stirling Rawdon. 

We actively participate in the Stirling-Rawdon Business Improvement Association and even reignited a Farmers Market (Market in the Village) in Stirling in 2020.

Helping those in need can boost your self esteem, keep you connected with your neighbourhood and community; a win win for all. 

Nate of Creekside Yoga in Downward dog Asana

Choose Gratitude

It can get overwhelming at times as we try and make sense of the current situation; an inability to plan for the future, let alone tomorrow, can leaves us in a very negative state of mind. Instead of focusing solely on the downsides, stop and think about what you do have; maybe write down 1-3 thing(s) every day, the list will surely grow very long.

Extra time spent with a partner or family can be a blessing, more opportunity for creative projects and self care, even the chance to start a new hobby you have been wanting to do for years. 

The goal is not to block out difficulties, but to approach those difficulties from a different perspective. Appreciation opens our hearts and soothes our turbulent minds by connecting us with wonderfully ordinary things, great and small, that we might otherwise take for granted. Each and every day there is something to be grateful for.

Yoga

As we are both Yoga teachers we love to share the practice with others. Much of the ancient wisdom is still relevant to this day and has many practical applications for both our overall mental and physical health. The tradition teaches us that life is full of ups and downs, but that your mental health does not have to be a reflection of this natural ebb and flow.

Meditation gives us the chance to disconnect from our external stressors and help guide us to a more peaceful place. Just by simply slowing down your breath, inhaling for a count of 4 and exhaling for a count of 4 with undivided attention to your breathing you can train your brain. With regular practice it can bring you better focus, emotional control, digestion, sleep, lower heart rate, blood pressure, and help relieve anxiety, which is again something we can all use right now. 

There are also many great apps if you would prefer a guide. ‘Insight Timer‘ is a great application and one we love and use regularly! With over 70,000 free meditations for almost everything including beginners, sleep, healing and recovery, stress and anxiety, performance, health and happiness, relationships, even kids.

Practicing Yoga asana (poses and movements) can help realign your posture to negate the extra sitting we are doing for work and school. It helps to strengthen/stretch our muscles, reconnect energetic pathways, invigorate and massage our internal organs, and relieve both physical and mental pain that accumulates in our bodies. The asana can be relatively simple or more complex and when practiced with complete attention can evolve into a moving meditation. 

Since it not possible to visit our studio in person at the moment we have created a virtual space, Creekside Yoga Anytime, for both live and pre-recorded Yoga asana classes to help you stay active, reset your breathing patterns, and mindfully engage. The subscription cost is $20+HST for 30 days access to our private facebook group. A great way to continue your Yoga practice or maybe try something new in 2021.

Remember we are all just trying to do our best right now so see if you can incorporate even one small change into your daily routine to help you find calm amidst the chaos. Get outside, stay active, help others, be grateful, your mental and physical bodies will thank you.

Photographs by Caitlyn Mary Art

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