During these times of COVID, where so many facets of life have completely come to a stop, I find it common to feel stuck. Whether that be physically stuck indoors quarantining or simply feeling unmotivated. Basically, I have felt stuck in a rut. I have 100% been feeling the COVID fatigue: sick of the masks, the Zoom meetings, not being able to see my family and friends, the self-testing, the sanitizing, the fear and anxiety… the whole shebang. As someone who already struggles with their mental health, it is so easy to fall into a sort of dark hole, adding the pandemic stress on top of an already uneasy mind. I am obviously still a work in progress, but over the course of the past year, I have been working on getting a better handle on my mental health and just generally being the best version of myself. I’ve always been sort of a skeptic on the whole “working on yourself” thing. However, when I look at who I am today in comparison to who I was a year ago, it’s undeniable that there has been an enormous amount of growth, even though I’m still working on it.
Tackling the topic of self-growth can be extremely overwhelming. There are so many components: physical, intellectual, social, personal, professional, spiritual…the list is neverending. However, I think that there are some simple strategies that you can implement into your everyday life that are not necessarily strenuous (believe me, I would not be doing them if they were), but do stimulate self-growth!
Of course when I thought about addressing this topic, I just had to bring it up to my therapist. (Speaking of therapy, if you are struggling with your mental health, please reach out to someone, whether that be a professional or even a friend. Getting help has been a HUGE part of my self-growth journey so far.) Together, we came up with this list of strategies that could be helpful not only for me individually, not only for people struggling with their mental health, but solutions that are universal to foster self-growth.
It’s important to remember that growth occurs on a spectrum: it looks different for everyone.
1. Get your body moving a little bit every day.
This does NOT mean going to the gym for hours every day, going on an 8 mile run, anything crazy like that. Sometimes I just do a little bit of stretching, or a dance party with the girls (my personal favorite). Make a TikTok! Just to practice some mindfulness and a reminder that you are alive and well!
2. Dedicate some time each day to working on academics.
Sometimes I forget that the reason that we are in college is in fact…for schooling and not just so I can live with my friends. Set aside some designated time each week to get organized and (sigh) work on homework.
3. Make lists!
Life is overwhelming. It is okay and honestly so helpful to make lists. This could be a list of things to do, things not to forget, a list of goals, etc. Also, the feeling of checking something off of a list is unmatched. Just saying.
4. Don’t forget to make time for fun.
The pandemic has brought out some extremely stressful situations, truly affecting everyone in some way. As a society in general we are so work-oriented, and it is so important to take a breather every once in a while and just let loose! Fun can look a little different with COVID, but do not underestimate the power of a movie marathon or a game night with your bubble of friends. A late night drive with music blaring can have regenerative powers.
5. Surround yourself with people who support you.
This one sometimes goes unnoticed, but I think it is crucial. You cannot grow if the people that you are surrounding yourself with are not encouraging you to be your best self. If there are people in your life that are dragging you down in any way or just not adding anything to your life, maybe reassess your relationships to best fit your growth.
6. Be kind to yourself.
I think this one may be the most important. Life sometimes feels stagnant and like you’re just going through the motions,especially during life in a pandemic. Recognize the things that you need. Celebrate the little things, because every bit of progress is still progress. Life can be hard. As tired of we are as hearing and living it, we are living through historical times! Remember that it is okay to be gentle with yourself and take a break.
I will leave you with a quote from one of my favorite poets (I know that sounds pretentious, just bear with me).
“Notice how the flowers still grow when the days are long and slow.” – Morgan Harper Nichols