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My friends, I hope you are well. Now that we’re firmly into Week 6 of social distancing, isolation, and/or quarantine, you may be feeling the cracks start to show in your motivation or mental wellness. I shared here more of my thoughts about using this time to be productive and develop new skill sets (spoiler: I don’t necessarily think it’s the right time to be putting additional pressure on yourself, if doing your best right now simply looks like surviving), but I do feel strongly that it’s more essential than ever to focus on your own personal wellness.

Tons of companies are offering resources for communities who are in quarantine and struggling because of the current Coronavirus-inflicted reality – some free, some discounted – and I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite free options that are meant to encourage and support health of mind, body, and spirit. I hope you’ll take advantage of any that may benefit you during this time, and if there are others that you want to share with the rest of the Femme-Brain community, please drop them in the comments below!

  • Audible Stories for Kids and Families – a great resource for kids and families during this time to stay engaged with one another through story telling (if you’re looking for an option to keep your kids away from screens, this could be a great option for creating Library Story Time at home).
  • The Science of Well-Being, offered by Yale – a free online course on the Science of Well-Being, “designed to increase your own happiness and build more productive habits”, according to Coursera, the hosting service. I’ve had several friends complete the course and loved the easy to follow and apply guidance.
  • MUSE scholarly content – tons of notable academic institutions have made their journals available to the public at no cost to help support teaching, learning, and knowledge discovery. Even if you’re not looking for any heavy academia at this time, there are some incredible articles on anything from Mediterranean cooking to Advertising to Medieval and Early Modern Studies. Worth a perusal!
  • Headspace for NY-ers – if you’re a NYC local, Headspace is offering free service for mental health and wellness support during this uncertain time.
  • Free Yoga & Pilates through Down Dog Yoga and Yoga by Adriene – two really great options for yoga and pilates that you can stream for free anytime, anywhere.

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Your calendar is packed with holiday parties. Your Pinterest feed is overflowing with festive cocktails, and cheese platters, and the 9 layer casseroles. You’re stressed. You’re tired. It’s “the most wonderful time of the year” but, are you in a place to approach it with joy and gratitude? If not, go easy on yourself. Stress is real – maybe all you need is a little grace and a little guidance. That’s what we’re here for! I’ve rounded up a few tips from our sistahs in the Femmes community to help you keep your health – physical, mental, emotional – through this crazy and beautiful time of the year.

  1. Practice gratitude. Every single day. Every single hour. Every single moment. This is an easy bullet point to throw around because if you’re reading this, you already know you should be grateful – but I’m challenging you to practice gratitude. There’s a difference between feeling grateful and choosing to acknowledge and assign gratitude in ordinary moments. When we get busy and stressed, we rely more heavily on our habits, because they takes less energy and brain capacity than conscious decision making. So, unless the practice of gratitude is a habit, it’s likely to be de-prioritized when your mind is in stress-mode. Make it a habit to write out 5 things you’re grateful for – ordinary things – every single day. This will make you more aware throughout your day of things you can acknowledge gratitude for. When I’m especially busy, I’ll set a reminder on my phone at random times throughout the day to re-center myself in a place of gratitude – it’s a simple practice but, I promise, will move mountains in your life.
  2. Drink more water. I want you to see that 8 glasses of water per day and raise it. Did you know that, at minimum, you should be drinking half your body weight in ounces of water every single day? Especially during this time of year, it’s so, SO important to keep your body hydrated. The air tends to be more dry, so that’s a natural reason to up your intake of H2O, but water is also a key factor in keeping your immune system strong and energy high. I carry my beloved 40 oz. HydroFlask with me everywhere, and it’s a game changer for reminding myself to drink up. Bonus: water helps keep the feeling of hunger at bay, making it much easier to glide on past the inevitable office treats this time of year.
  3. Try something new. This may feel like the exact time of year that you don’t want to add a single new thing to your calendar, which is maybe exactly why you should. Stretching yourself outside of your comfort zone is foolproof for getting you out of a rut because it breaks the patterns that suck you into a toilet bowl of stress. Commit some time, even if you only have 10 minutes each day, to doing something you’ve been wanting to do but haven’t made the time for yet. This can be anything from trying out that new boxing class, to finally not ignoring those Duolingo push notifications, to taking public transit to work instead of driving, to taking an online course about digital marketing.
  4. Don’t skip your workout. I’ve heard it said that working out “creates” energy. If any of you happen to know the science behind that, I’m genuinely curious and would love if you could drop it in the comments. My non-physician’s analysis is that moving your body is a one-two-punch for getting your mind right by releasing endorphins (science!), stimulating blood flow (science!), and just making you feel good, you know? I’m saying, prioritize this effort for yourself not as penance for the extra holiday cheer you indulged in but because it is a way to serve your body, which is a temple of your soul.
  5. Go to bed earlier & wake up earlier. This is my anthem for taking control of your day! To me, mornings are everything, but even if you’re not a little early bird like that, just giving yourself a few extra minutes to set your day up, feeling rested and in control can be an absolute game-changer when you’ve got a list as long as Santa’s of things you’ve got to get done. In reality, most of the behaviors that make us feel less than stellar happen in the later hours of the day, so making more time in the morning to start your day with a fresh perspective will help boost your productivity and your mood. And since sleep = queen of everything, swap out your evening scrolling or extra episode for some extra Zzzz’s to help stay healthy and out of the red zone of overwhelm.

And now, take a moment, breathe, and realize everything you need today is already within you. You’re perfect, you’re capable, and you’re doing your best. You’ve got this.

xx, Erin

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