2020 – What Helped

Now it’s nearing the end of 2020, I thought I’d sign off by sharing some of the things that have helped me keep body and soul together this year.

Jogging

When both my gym and yoga studio closed in March, I started doing daily HIIT workouts on YouTube. I was exhausted at the end of the 20 minute sessions but once I stopped shielding I felt I should do some exercise outside. So I started Couch to 5K and it was a life saver. I have a tendancy not to go out if I don’t have a purpose and this gave me one. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I had to get out there and make progress on my goal to jog non-stop for 30 minutes.

I find ALL exercise tough and none more so than running. I recently reached my goal (and nearly cried when I did) but I don’t find it any easier than I did at the start. However for the sake of my mental health it has become non-negotiable (unless it pouring with rain!).

A Weighted Blanket

Weighed blankets have been used therapeutically for people with dementia and autism for some time. In the last couple of years however, a whole host of companies have sprung up selling them to the general public for their calming properties and to help with insomnia.

They are essentially, quilted blankets filled with ball bearings or glass beads, providing deep pressure that many people find soothing. They retail for around the £150 mark but I took a chance on one for less than half that on Amazon at the start of lockdown. I wouldn’t say it is magically anxiety reducing but I do find it hugely comforting. I read with it during the day and sleep under it at night. I couldn’t be without it now.

Embracing my Curls

It may seem superficial but as Fleabag quite rightly said ‘Hair is EVERYTHING’. After chemically straightening my hair for the last 10 years it felt good to spend some time healing it during lockdown. It was fun to learn about the Curly Girl Method and a welcome diversion. The online community is also a very uplifting place to hang out.

Curly hair is unpredictable and I don’t always love it but accepting it has been good for me. Transitioning from damaged, straightened hair to healthy, curly hair takes on average about 6 months and by the start of 2021 I should be almost there.

2020: Bare face, curly hair, don’t care

Writing

We all have different ways of dealing with difficult emotions and writing has always been most helpful for me. The blog has been a great creative outlet but Cognitive Behavioural Therapy exercises have enabled me to get perspective and think more rationally when my thoughts and feelings are running riot. Free-flow writing has also helped me get to the bottom of what exactly has been troubling me and release that emotion.

My sister has bought me a lovely (though cringingly named) ‘wellness journal’ for next year. I have always struggled at the start of a new year and so this will form part of my campaign to Make January Great Again.

Books

Reading is my distraction of choice but at the start of lockdown I was too hypervigilant to concentrate on a book. Thank goodness this passed and they once again became the solace they were before.

By the end of the year I should have read around 45 books, though I wasn’t very diligent in recording them on Goodreads. My favourite book was the historical fiction Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Runners up were the atmospheric fantasy novels The Golem and The Djinni by Helene Wecker and Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik and the extremely troubling My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell.

 

Friends

Last but by no means least; my friendships were a lifeline. I was fortunate to form a bubble with family but I’ve only got to spend time with a friend once since March. There’s nothing like going through a tough time to bring home just how important those people who choose to be there for you, truly are.

I’ve found my friendships have deepened and been more important than ever. Aside from a couple of wonderful care packages, just being able to message someone or pick up the phone and call when I was feeling isolated made all the difference in the world. I won’t forget it.

A surprise gift from my pal in Edinburgh

What helped you during this annus horribilis? How are your Christmas and New Year looking?

I will be with my parents at Christmas but now won’t be able to have an outdoor meet-up with my sister and her family as we hoped.

I’ll definitely be spending New Year’s Day listening to Baking Bad with (Val) the Cookie Queen on the radio.

18 Comments

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18 responses to “2020 – What Helped

  1. I’m glad to hear you found effective ways of dealing with this year. What helped me the most was very surprising for me when I realized it – but the team I joined (I changed my job last year) was amazing this year and we joked on and off work and shared our frustrations and life situations in general. I haven’t seen them since February (only one of them occassionally as we became friends) but I don’t think I would have fared this well in this year if it weren’t for them. They were always there with jokes, compassion and understanding and that is priceless. I admit I had trouble finding a new life schedule now that I work from home for all the time but it’s all finally coming together and I sincerely hope to take up jogging as well, soon, (my New Year resolution).

    Like

    • Hi Ines

      It’s brilliant your new work colleagues have been such a support to you this year. Even having someone to share a joke with can make all the difference.

      Your working from home routine will come together. It will help if you can start jogging again because it will break up the day and give you a emotional boost.

      Like

  2. Hamamelis

    Tara I love your curls and bare face! I stopped dying my hair before covid, but I am really glad I did now. I am lucky though, as a sort of redhead it isn’t turning grey, just a bit less red ;-).
    What helped? Tai chi, walking and our own high intensity resistance training training (unfortunately studio’s have closed down again because lockdown). Simple breathing exercises, 3 seconds in 4 out. Cold showers, the one CQ posted about. Lots of sleep. I have had my eye on a weighted blanket, so I am glad to read your experience. Vitamin d and zinc, as far as I know both make a difference in case you get infected, so less worry.
    News diet, on and off. Reading, I love 3 of your 4 favourite books. My husband received The boy, the mole, the fox and the horse from a business contact, it helps too, simple goodness. Some Netflix, absolute favourite is the Octopus Teacher, nature’s creativity and resilience are astounding.
    Perfume, during the first lockdown I was too stressed, but now it helps. Lots of April Aromatics, I splurged on the Lotus Rising. Very very beautiful, and I received a sample of Vanilicious, which is a gorgeous vanilla. Hiram Green and Vero. Counting my blessings and rembering everyone is affected this year also really hepls
    Lots of strength and whatever brings you joy to all!

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    • I loved reading your comment!
      So many helpful ways to keep grounded.

      I’ve bought the audio book of The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse and plan to listen to it on New Year’s Day.

      Here’s to you and your business going from strength to strength in 2021!

      Like

  3. Great coping strategies all round, and fantastic progress on the jogging front. I am banned from jogging due to my ongoing pelvis bother, but there is nothing like it for endorphins. I do agree about the rain though.

    You look lovely as a curly girl and I am indebted to you for introducing me to some good reads, not least the eponymous My Dark Vanessa.

    Exercise and reading have also helped me a lot this year: a mixture of brisk long walks with friends and a resistance routine on my home gym. I have transformed my weedy, crepey arms, so that is one silver lining of an otherwise annus horribilis.

    I have upped my knitting too to crazy output levels, as it is a soothing and productive activity: must have made enough scarves in lockdown to give one to every beleaguered lorry driver stuck in Operation Brock.

    I can’t get my temperature right at night in bed, and often wake up in the small hours and can’t get off to sleep again. Had been thinking of a thinner duvet or more lightweight pyjamas, and now the weighted blanket is intriguing me…

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    • I’m all about the coping strategies V. Portia pointed out a while back that I didn’t have any so I’ve been working on that.

      Jogging is great for endorphins but long walks with friends must be lovely.

      Lol about the scarves and Operation Stack! It must be nice to have something that is both soothing and productive.

      I’ve been reading about how important it is not be too warm at night to help you sleep. The weighted blanket is a good alternative to a duvet and people do seem to find them helpful for insomnia.

      Like

  4. Your curly hair looks great! I’ve also been tempted to try out a weighted blanket but wasn’t sure if it would get too hot sleeping through the night with one. I might look into it again.
    Reading, writing, texting with friends, going for walks with my other half, exercising on my bike trainer while watching old shows… those things have all helped me this year.
    Wish you a restful holiday!

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    • The weighted blankets are actually not very thick but I guess it depends on the climate.

      I’ve been rewatching The Gilmore Girls while working from home and it’s been so comforting.

      Wishing you a peaceful time over the holidays too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tara C

    For me it’s been youtube videos, meditation, lots of walks outside with the dog and yoga. And of course perfume, when my anxiety level is not through the roof. I’m feeling very happy and satisfied with my perfume collection.

    Like

    • Great to hear you are so content with your perfume collection. I don’t feel the urge to wear fragrance while at home. Somethibg I need to address in 2021.

      I’ve been starting and ending my day with the Calm app and totally agree about YouTube videos. They’ve been like company while I’ve been so isolated.

      Like

  6. I think I said it before, but I love your curly hair (and all my life wanted to have one – and even once had about 25 years ago when I did a “vertical perm,” as it was called then where I lived).

    You’re a constant source of inspiration for me! Thanks to you, I improved my skincare routine. Who knows – I might even start reading :).

    I’m glad you found things that helped you to cope with this strange year.

    For me… I was/am fine. The way I work doesn’t leave me too much time to miss life 🙂 I will try to improve it next year, at least to incorporate some reading and more exercising (these days it’s mostly daily walks, which isn’t enough).

    Like

    • Undina, being an inspiration to someone amazes me. It’s the nicest compliment, thank you.

      So good to hear you have invested more into your skincare regime.

      As for your hair, do you have a wave or slight kinks? Many people find that if they do the Curly Girl Method can enhance them a lot.

      I know how hard you both work so it doesn’t leave much time for reading or exercising. I hope you have a truly restful time over the holidays.

      Like

  7. Asali

    What a great post. Funny, I’ve never heard anybody say it before, but I too struggle with walks without purpose. I simply don’t really enjoy that. I have been going for walks with friends, but then the purpose is seeing that friend and catching up. And well done for reaching your goal, I find running so hard too, so the plan was to get in running shape in the fitness studio where I could stop the treadmill if I didn’t have the power that day, but of course most of the year, they were shut down.
    My best help is winter bathing. I love it, it’s like free meditation. I don’t enjoy the feeling of doing nothing, no matter how good it might be for me, so going into cold water clears my head and mind in the best possible way. Afterwards I feel great!
    I like the idea of that blanket. The duvets of my paternal grandmother spring to mind, they were so heavy, nearly impossible to shift.
    I was away on a tour for 2 months just as the covid wasn’t too bad here, and it was amazing for the mental health being around people doing what I love doing. All in a social bubble of course.
    Oh and I found my curls too, this year! Never knew I had them. Very contend with that 🙂
    Happy Christmas

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  8. Tara,
    Having you as a friend helped me immensely this year. No matter how low or down I got worrying about business failure, financial paucity and the run on effects of both you were ALWAYS up for a chat or sending voice messages.
    Thank you so much.
    You’re really important to both Jin and me.
    Hugs,
    Portia xx

    Liked by 1 person

    • If it wasn’t for you Portia I would never have worked so hard on finding coping strategies like these. You’re always so insightful about other people.

      You and Jin are family to me. Love you both loads.

      Liked by 1 person

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