Posted in blog

My First Vacation and Travel Post COVID-19 #MondayBlogs

Me with Lego Elsa in Disney Springs!

First, let me just start by saying when I titled this post with the phrase “post-COVID”, I am in no way subscribing to the idea that we are beyond the pandemic. I still wear a mask in public. I still encourage others to do the same. What I mean by the title, is this was the first time I traveled *since* the pandemic. In fact, it was the most I’ve EVER been out of the house since the pandemic!

And let me tell you, it was ver, very weird.

But let me also tell you, it was refreshing, exciting to be around humans IRL again, and it was super relaxing having a change of scenery than just my home, the grocery store, and the dentist office as I’m in the process of getting a crown placed on my back molar. But while I was on vacation, I wasn’t thinking of dentist appointments or workouts I was avoiding; no, I was having fun with my best friend, my mom.

My Mom enjoying the hotel fountain in Savannah!

I’m super lucky to have grown up with a close mother who is really truly my best friend. Yeah, we might disagree, argue once in a while; and she never gets tired of *always* being right, but we have a great relationship for the most part.

And it was her idea to get away for a few days to warmer weather. Our favorite vacation spot is around Orlando, and my cousins and their adorable new babies / families live in Jacksonville Beach. So we decided to start at Jax Beach to visit fam and enjoy the majestic sound of the ocean waves, have some fun in Disney Springs for some awesome Margaritas by the Disney Lake, and end our trip in Savannah for some epic benya’s by the River.

But let me tell you, I did have to think a bit before saying yes to the trip. While my mom’s plan sounded good from the start, I had one thing on my mind from saying yes right away: COVID-19.

Yes, that infamous pandemic that turned the entire world upside down and transformed yours truly from just an introvert into a full-pledged hermit, never leaving her home except when running out of coffee and food or the dreaded dentist appointment. But what made me say yes to adventure despite my worry of spreading or catching this truly awful disease? Well, it was a couple of things, actually.

The first, was my mom took a road trip in about November 2020 to visit her brother and family in Wisconsin. So from Greenville to Madison area is around 873 miles or 12 hours via car. And my mom isn’t always in a huge rush on road trips. Unlike my dad and my brother, instead of making it on one go; she likes to stop for breaks, lunches and stay the night at a hotel, cashing in her well earned points of years as a traveling salesperson. So she probably stayed at four different hotels back in the fall in 2020. At first I was very worried about her safety when she first told me about the travel plans for herself to visit my uncle and her nieces and nephews. But she said she did a lot of research on hotels were handling the coronavirus crisis.

She said that hotels are cracking down on Lysol-ing the rooms to kingdom come, being diligent on washing the sheets extra, extra well … closing down pools and easing up on common areas like breakfast bars and such, and encouraging customers to wear masks. On top of all that, she brings her own Clorox wipes and wipes down the major hotel surfaces she’d come in contact with and washes the hotel dishes and cutlery herself also.

So, when her and I were talking about our little Florida get-away, I remembered when she visited WI in the fall and how easy it was for her to avoid getting sick thanks to the hotel chains taking the Covid thing seriously (hey, they didn’t want bad press of their customers getting super sick!) and that helped me relax a little bit.

The other thing was my mom got COVID for real for Christmas when a visit with their close neighbors, who conveniently failed to mention that they had been exposed to Covid earlier (they only found out themselves after the fact). First my dad got it and his wasn’t that bad, only lasted a couple of weeks and no fever. Then my mom got it, and it was far worse because of her history with Asthma. But luckily they have a great family Doctor and he prescribed her the anti-bodies right away. Thanks to his due diligence of keeping an eye on her and taking care of her, truly thank God she was okay. It was a scary and stressful time for all of us, but luckily they both were okay. I took a test and was negative, so good news there too.

It was because she already had the anti-bodies that put my mind at ease about her traveling again, and me traveling with her.

I still take the COVID very seriously, and bring my own hand wipes everywhere and always wear a mask. But knowing she already got it and lived, was a little bit pressure released. Not to say she can’t get it again, but you know, the fear wasn’t as strong especially with all the precautionary measures she applies herself.

So yeah, when my mom first asked me to run away to sunshine beaches and a girl’s trip to Florida in a pandemic world, I was a little hesitant for a moment. But then I realized it’d been a couple of months since her COVID scare and that she had the antibodies treatment, and I recalled the safety measures of the hotel chains she stayed at in Wisconsin, the same one’s we’d be visiting in Florida. And I remembered how careful they were with their cleaning and COVID protection measures. And so, with some reserved I said yes.

And then as she kept e-mailing travel tips and plans, I actually got to become very excited! Bye-bye end of the winter rainy blues Greenville, hello sunny Florida! And dare did this pale introvert dream, a tan? So, I began packing and preparing, complete with a pack of hand wipes and my usual chic leopard face mask of my own, and then it really hit me. This was travelling during COVID season.

But by then my many trips to the grocery stores has prepared me for COVID 19 etiquette.

Wear a mask, try not to sneeze in public, nod politely at fellow maskers, scowl at anti-maskers and then everything would be just fine especially if you wash your hands pronto when getting home (I wash mine with Dawn dish soap just to be extra safe).

And for the most part, the trip was just fine, indeed. And we truly had a great time. But it wasn’t the same majestic feeling of a wild and free traveller as vacations might have felt in the past.

Jax Beach fun day!

Yeah we were having fun on the beach, but I found myself how many humans were on the sandbank having fun – without masks – while I was imagining nasty germs emitting from their mouths. But I admit, a few minutes of feeling the powerful ocean waves gently tickling sand underneath my toes, even I was starting to relax and have some proper fun! Then a margarita at the hotel bar, and dinner with my cousins and their new families and I was happy to be out agian! And dare I say it, I missed people IRL, guys!

Sure you got your Twitter, Facebook and zoom meetings; but nothing beats a smile in real life, and yes I washed my hands like cra-cra, but it felt so amazing to be around people in person, by my family and enjoying the sun, drinks and the history of Jax Beach and St. Augustine coastline.

We woke up early to have coffee at sunrise – room with a view!

I was super glad we drove because both my mom and I agreed that we weren’t ready to airplane travel during a pandemic. Packed like sardines in a crowded airport / airplane for hours at a time? Yeah, I shudder just imagining it!

Our first night at the hotel we ate at Bahama Breeze (the meal was just okay but it was fun to be in Orlando!), and the next night after a day of girl time window shopping, we totally had a blast at Disney Springs!

I had on the rocks, mom had frozen – super strong & yummy Margaritas!

But the drive from Jax Beach to Orlando was super pretty! Thanks to advice from my cousin-in-law the night before, both he and my cousin gushed about how pretty the drive was over the St. Augustine coastline to Orlando. Yeah it was super longer by the comparison highway route, but it sure beat sitting in traffic with no scenery. This way, we got to look at pretty coastal lines from the Atlantic ocean and we both ooo’d and ahhh’d over the pretty and fancy upscale beach houses with amazing views; imagining what the #beachlife style must have been like.

Video clip of our fave spot in Disney Springs, Margarita Bay!

That night we ate at Bahama Breeze as I was craving seafood having had stared at the ocean all day whilst driving, and of course a couple more margaritas! Hey, when on vacation!

But the reason we went to Orlando, aside from the nice weather, was Disney Springs!

Disney Springs is a bit like Disney World, but on a lower scale. It’s mostly just shops, eating and drinking. What’s not to love?

Our view from Margarita Bay! So pretty especially at Sunset!
This Disney employee let me take his photo, he has all the Stones & Baby Groot!

We had such a fun time at Disney Springs! It really is our fave place to visit. You get the flare of Disney fun without the long lines or the big price tag of the Disney parks. They have totally changed it from the last time we were there back in 2019!

They’ve gone super Marvel-centric and Star Wars crazy in their shops. But they also kept the traditional of Disney Springs with the Mickey themed store (I was geeking out over the Tangled lanterns!) and some traditional Disney movies like a Snow White candy shop with the wicked witch’s carmel apple. They looked so good but I was sure it would ruin my crown in progress so I was a good girl and avoided candy. Plus, we were saving room for pizza!

Mom wouldn’t let me take the Child home πŸ™‚

Our hotel room was pretty cool because it had a double room, so we each got our own room and bath, shared with a common kitchen area and living room.

One of me and my mom’s things is binging HGTV, ever since I was in high school that’d always been our favorite to watch together. And since I don’t have cable or Discovery+ it was a real treat for me too to catch up on some of my favorite shows and spend some quality time with my mom. We also ordered a Chicago style pizza the next night at that cool hotel, and it was so nice to chill and binge HGTV.

Have you ever had Uno pizza before? This gorgeous pie reminded us of sweet home Chicago! Go Cubs Go!

The next day, armed with our face masks and hand wipes, we did our usual window shopping at HomeGoods, Ikea and Costco. Then we treated ourselves to pedicures. I was impressed with the pedicure place because they made us take a survey indicating neither of us had any symptoms, and also made us wash our hands on site before sitting down in the salon style chairs. So yes it was another reminder that we live in a COVID age, but it was nice to see the salon taking it seriously too.

I asked my pedicurist if they shut down last year, and she said for a few months. She also said that usually they were jam packed with customers, and I looked around and only saw a couple of other ladies other than me and my Mom, so that made me very sad indeed. The COVID was definitely an impact to our economy, and small family run businesses like that salon, was a reminder of who the weak economy hit the hardest. But I was glad we were there, and able to help support that family. My feet were glad too! Because it’d probably been almost three years since my last pedicure! Damn did my heels need it! But by the end they felt baby soft smooth and I felt like I was walking on clouds.

That night it rained pretty heavily in Orlando, which was great for sleeping in as the thunderstorm didn’t start until early morning, but unfortunately it knocked a whole bunch of palm tree residue onto my mom’s car, so that was a little funny because we weren’t used to dealing with palm tree dust!

Another day of window shopping, HGTV hang out and the previously mentioned Chicago style pizza from Uno (we are from Chicago originally, so it tasted like heaven!) and we were both ready to mosey onto Savannah, our last destination of our getaway.

Sunset at the Savannah river – mom scored another room with a view with her points!

I’ve only been to Savannah once before back when I first moved to SC and was more social in 2014, but hadn’t been since. It’s a gorgeous town deep in history – both good, bad and haunted history. Both me and my mom (my mom especially) have had ghostly encounters in the past, so at first I was very much looking forward to a guided ghost tour at night in Savannah, ghost tours being super popular for tourists.

But it was *way* colder than either of us were expecting for the first week of March. Yes we both checked the weather app, but the “Real Feel” felt way colder in person! But we still had a great time.

Facemasks are warn inside except when eating and drinking!

We had a wonderful dinner at the Pink House, spoiled by the waitstaff and manager, Waymond, who had amazing customer service. My mom is a huge fan of their Beach Palmer’s and although they were too sweet for me, I enjoyed seeing my mom so relaxed and having a good time. We shared some oysters and each had some shrimp pasta, so good! I was still craving seafood from seeing the ocean so much, lol. But super yummy!

My mom’s fave drinks! Beach Palmer’s!

Then the manager let us go downstairs to the tavern, a cool underground bar / cellar connected the the old home, that felt like walking onto a pirate ship. Very cool ambiance and again perfect staff and service. We had to let them know the manager gave us special permission, because they only accepted people with reservations into the tavern, to avoid being over-crowded for COVID precautions. I appreciated that they let us in, and they did a good job of spacing the tables to keep six feet apart. And I found out that the tavern and the Pink House was reported as haunted, and our server said she heard a ghostly voice while on shift! I thought she was very brave still working there, but it did seem like a fun staff and I was happy they were doing so well. It is definitely an awesome spot to dine at, just make sure to make reservations in advance!

Shrimp & Scallop Alfredo so good! Pasta tasted homemade!

But yeah, as far as that ghost tour I was so excited about in the planning stages, the reality was it was too cold for either of us. Plus, we both agreed the thought of wearing face masks would make the experience, less enjoyable. I was also concerned what to do for the second day in Savannah while we waited for nightfall for the ghost tour, as there wasn’t a whole lot to do other than tours. A lot of the shops on the riverside boardwalk unfortunately didn’t survive the COVID economy, and it was super cold – too cold to check out the nearby Tybee Island beach. Originally I was thinking of a day at Tybee beach as I’d been there before and loved it, but it was not looking warm enough to even desire a drive by. So, we agreed to skip the ghost tour and save it for warmer weather and when masks are no longer needed.

So our trip ended a day short, somewhat due to weather and the COVID dampening the usual joys of travelling, but it was also because we were both ready to be home. We planned the trip to be flexible, so we can leave whenever we wanted.

We ended the trip on a high note, sleeping in and then going to the riverwalk for a wonderful breakfast and the most picture perfect delicious benya’s ever! Of course, I’ve never had any before in my life but dang was I impressed! We totally needed a second order for those babies! And, a nap after such a heavy breakfast! We did walk a bit down the river to walk off our meal, but again, the cold of the waterfront (and me being horribly out of shape!) cut our adventure a little shorter. If more shops were open, we probably would have lingered but it appeared to be mostly bars, a candy shop that we did cruise through and only a couple of souvenir shops. Not the shopping experience I recalled from last time. A grim reminder of the COVID era we live in.

These benya’s left us feeling in heaven!

But we had a good drive back, and it felt so amazing to be home.

Although, I’m very glad I went! It was so fun to see family, to be around humans again and to get away for a couple of days. Four days was just enough for me, but like I said, had a great time! I was making friends with everyone, chit-chatting in the elevator saying hi to people we passed, complimenting people’s fashion or their cute doggies. For the most part everyone was pretty friendly. It made me miss the days before COVID when I was active in my Meetup groups, and it made me miss having friends IRL, as much as I love my Twitter oomf’s! It’s just not the same.

But then getting lots of kitty cuddles, kitty love and a relaxing night of watching Disney Plus, and I was happy again to be in my hermit routine.

Still, I think I speak for nearly everyone that we can’t wait for the COVID era to pass us. I don’t think things will ever truly be as they are, and maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe it was time for us to get our security up and be respectful of our personal bubble. But I do miss shaking people’s hands during introductions and meetings, and giving people hugs without worrying about spreading COVID.

How about you? Have you done any travelling since the pandemic? What are you most looking forward to when things get somewhat back to normal? And what changes of the pandemic era do you wish would stay? Leave a comment below!

Until next time, stay Geeky, Creative & Safe!

~Claire

Posted in blog, Monday Blogs, Motivational Posts

πŸ” Self-Care & Mental Health Lessons Learned From LockDown #MondayBlogs

[ CW:// Stress, AnxietyΒ  & Depression Mentioned in this Article (Content Warning) ]

Hey guys! Welcome back to my blog! Been ages, I know. Motivation went out the window unfortunately in 2020. You know, I thought I was the queen of excuses, the Pro of Procrastination before … but 2020 has taken my ‘laziness’ skill onto a whole new level! Not a thing to brag about, trust me I totes know!

But you know, 2020 wasn’t all bad.

Being stuck at home and unemployed for seven months has left me with loads of time to self-reflect on, well, myself. So I wanted to share with you what I learned about Self Care and Mental Health in case they help you as well if you’re struggling with survivor’s guilt of the pandemic, the stress of unemployment/job hunting, or just general anxiety about all the Sh* going on in this crazy planet.

I almost titled this post “Life-Changing Lessons Learned From LockDown” for more clicky-click’s but I felt like that was too much of a clickbait and I care too much about my audience (that’s you!) to fall into that temptation.  Plus, the lessons I learned weren’t exactly ground-breaking or revolutionary, but they helped me cope through one of the most stressful years of our lives. It started with the Toilet Paper crisis and ended in 500,000 deaths in the US alone and counting of the historical coronavirus. So now more than ever, I think it’s important we normalize discussing Self-Care and Mental Health. Make it more than trendy buzz words, sharing our process can help others go through theirs. That, I do firmly believe. Sorry for using ‘now more than ever’, if you’re like me, you probably cringe every time an advert uses that line. But sometimes, the cliches just fit.

Anywho – let’s get on with what you’re here for! Lessons on how to survive stress and help make the days count.

Just a DISCLAIMER! I am not a health care professional or a psychologist. I STRONGLY advise seeking help if you feel a strong sense of hopelessness for a prolonged period of time. These are tips that have helped me, and I hope by sharing, you might get some nuggets of mental health tips. Right-o, here we go!

The Art of Meditation & Chakra Balancing:

If you’re a fan of the original Avatar the Last Airbender, then you’re probably already familiar with at least the main principles of Chakras. Basically, there are seven balls or aura’s of energy that connects inside of you to a higher power. The goal is to keep all seven chakras open so that you can release any unwanted or negative energy back into the universe where it can be redirected to where it is needed.

Learning more about the Chakras and keeping an open mind of the existence of Chakras has helped me control my emotions, set my mood, and aided with my ability to fall asleep faster. For example, if I was feeling exceptionally anxiety-induced, had a bad episode of restless leg syndrome, or feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere I would focus on my ROOT CHAKRA. When I *finally* got my day-job at a call center (hey, it paid them bills!) and my throat kept hurting every day from making 100+ calls a day, you guessed it … the THROAT CHAKRA helped me get a little more comfortable being on the phone for so long and the courage to speak up. And I used the HEART CHAKRA many times to redirect negative or sad energy that I absorbed from others as an Empath, especially customers who were dealing with loss of a family member, that I couldn’t shake off without meditating on the HEART CHAKRA.

There are plenty of other examples of how the Chakras helped me cope, but that could easily be a blog post on it’s own!

And, before you say the chakras are pseudo-science or a type of placebo … I used to not believe in them either. I just didn’t think they were for me. Boy, was I wrong! I’m glad I rediscovered the world of Chakras because they’ve greatly improved my mental health. And now I check-in on my Chakras almost every day!

But I separate mediation with Chakra Balancing because to me they are not the same thing. Both have their place and are equally important. And if you prefer one over the other, that is perfectly okay too! You do not have to do them both. But personally, I enjoy doing them both because it helps me calm down, change the narrative of my mental chatter into a positive one, and generally just connecting with the Self and the Universe in a meaningful way. Yeah, this stuff really does go deep. 

But how deep you want to go is always up to you! That is important to remember. You are in control of your thoughts; your thoughts do not control you. That is a lesson I have to re-learn almost every day. But you now what? That’s okay. It’s about giving yourself grace.

Using Meditation as Escapism:

While it maybe isn’t the greatest thing to use escapism to help cope with stress, anxiety, depression or insomnia, as some would call it running away or hiding from your problems instead of solving them, at least it is a safe outlet that helped me relax during the fear of the coronavirus era.

I know I am not the only one, because when I shared a particularly relaxing binaural sleeping track from YouTube to my IRL bestie, she said it was the first night sleep in a while without nightmares and she works in the coronavirus ward in a hospital. There is strong science how binaural beats work and using sound to tell the brain how to feel.

It’s actually very interesting how sound really can impact the brain. It’s really fascinating thinking how you can tell your brain to either relax or hype up depending on the types of sound wave frequency played by the music. The military is even exploring using it to help vets with PTSD. I personally use the binaural beats technique to relax at night and stay asleep (this track was the one that gave my bestie so much relief), or focus when I’m writing or working.

There are lots of YouTube channels that use the frequencies to either unleash serotonin (the happiness trigger), mediation frequencies that help connect you with the Universe or God if you’re religious, or even frequencies that claim to give you as much energy as coffee

All it takes to unlock these magnificent, almost magical tracks is a quick YouTube search. I strongly recommend YouTube Premium, so that you can shut off your phone and still listen to the tracks and not be disturbed by adverts. Now, I’m not saying you NEED YouTube Premium to highly enjoy these tracks, but it really is worth it.

The binaural beats are an easy way to escape your mental chatter and just relax or focus on what you’re actually wanting to work on (like writing or studying).

However, these music tracks aren’t the only way to enjoy an escape.
Guided meditations have been almost an addiction for me for a year and a half now, and I find myself listening to them nearly every night since.

My fave way to drift off into dreamland for a relaxing night’s sleep is to the soothing voices of Jason Stephenson, the Honest Guys, SleepTube music, and more.
It started out on a particularly dark night of the soul where my insomnia and depression felt especially helpless. I think I searched for “sleep depression” on YouTube and that led me down the happy rabbit hole of binaural beats, guided meditations and hypnosis therapy.

Of course, you should speak to your healthcare professional as none of these are substitutes for therapy or medication. However, in my own experience, I found these worked better for me than some of my medication. Again, that is just my individual experience so please don’t go in thinking this can be a cure-all. I found the guided meditations and hypnosis sessions just helped me sleep, which sometimes with depression feels an impossible task. Just a warning, for me it did almost the opposite effect,and I found myself sleeping too much. So again, just a precaution. Definitely recommend you set up a few alarms to wake up in the morning, as at least with me, the hypnosis meditations especially would let me sleep for hours and hours … well beyond the recommended seven to eight hour recommendation of healthcare professionals.

Now I did do a little bit of meditation back in 2019; and it helped a little bit going through the motions of everyday shuffle, but it wasn’t until about March of 2020 that I typed that fateful YouTube search and as they say, the rest is history.

I definitely recommend Headspace App and the Calm App to get started with mediation. Is important not to worry about “doing meditation right” or have any expectations going in. Just concentrate on the breath itself and try to clear your mind.

If you have depression, I highly recommend the Headspace App. There is a course there that helps change one’s relationship with depression, and it helped me through a spell in 2019. I only canceled it because I started to prefer guided meditations on YouTube, but I recommend trying a few out and seeing what sticks with you. Please note non of these are sponsored! Just personal recommendations. I will probably do a full blog post on my fave meditation apps, so stick around for that and follow my blog / subscribe to my youtube channel for more good stuff on mental health tips!

Self Care Lessons Learned in 2020 and 2021:

So, this is a very much do as I say and not as I do. Because I know if I do most or even half of these tips I would be much better off for it. But I keep adding it to my planner and my calendar with the hopes that one day I will have a “perfect day”. But between my procrastination and TV addiction, half of this Sh* just doesn’t get done. But I still plan and advise on these tips because they have been proven by hundreds of people to be effective, maybe even thousands of people. I’m sure you have heard some of these tips before, and the days I actually do them, I do feel much better. So here we go!

Check Your Chatter:

One thing I really liked about Headspace, was it helped me recognize the voice in my head, my inner critic, isn’t always your friend. For me, it more often was my worst enemy. My self-doubt grew to gigantic proportions after my debut novel Quest of the Prodigy got so many negative reviews. I felt I failed as an author, and therefore as that was what I recognized the most, failed as a person. I know, calm down the drama right? But that is what self-doubt does, blows things way out of proportion.

And Headspace helped keep myself in check. It seems every day I have to re-learn this lesson, but it’s always a good reminder. Sometimes when I feel so crippled by self-doubt I want to scream, I try to write down my thoughts in a journal or a voice-memo on my Apple Watch if I don’t feel like writing. Brain-dumping is a very useful tool for self-care! 

If you hate your handwriting like I do, I strongly recommend using your phone or smartwatch for a voice memo to brain dump. Even if you never listen to the voice memo’s again, which I usually don’t, it feels good just to get it out there. Imagine chatting with your favorite human to connect with like a parent or a bestie, and unload your thoughts onto that voice memo. Don’t worry, it should be that only you have access to it, so don’t worry about others judging it. And, try not to judge yourself as you speak into the microphone, just let all of your thoughts go.

Think About Others: 

I’m in no way calling you a selfish person! But sometimes when you have Depression or Anxiety, it’s easy to only focus on your to-do-list or your problems. I believe that’s just natural.

But when was the last time you texted your friend or family member? Or better yet, when was the last time you called them? Can you go shopping with your friend (even if it’s shopping online together)? Can you call your sibling and ask how their day was going? What about a cousin? The point is, try to make an honest connection with someone else. At least for that time you’re on the phone with them, you’re not thinking about yourself.

Dont’ have an inner circle? That’s okay. Think about volunteering to a cause that’s important to you. Like a food pantry or soup kitchen. Or donate to babysit a neighbor’s pet or child. You know, just throwing examples off of the top of my head. I heard that volunteering is very good for the soul. I should probably take my own advice and try it sometime!!! LOL πŸ™‚

Get Moving:Β 

Okay! 🚨 MAJOR HYPOCRISY alert here! 🚨

I’ve had “workout” on my calendar for three years now, and have yet to get started lol.
In 2019 I was able to do Yoga a few times a week, but I quickly fell out of it when I failed to see results. I know, weight doesn’t get lost overnight (wouldn’t it be great if the fat could actually get up and walk away?) – so definitely don’t lead by my example, lol.

But time and time again do I hear that even walking 10 minute a day can boost dopamine, and I really need to try it!

Maybe tonight I will dust off my treadmill and do a 10 minute walk. Anyone want to take a challenge with me and hold each other accountable? Seriously just let me know!  Totally game!

But even if you don’t have any equipment at home, there are LOTS of free YouTube on equipment-free workouts you can do in the comfort of your living room!

I personally am not a gym person. I feel like I am judged too much by other patrons of the gym. But if you’re the competitive sort or enjoy taking group classes, I highly recommend it! Just bring your own hand sanitization wipes to reduce the possibility of getting the coronavirus that is still at large at least as of March 2021.

Cook At Home:

Not only is it healthier to cook at home, it also helps the brain. Lots of preservatives, extra fat, MSG and other not good stuff found in fast food and restaurants these days makes the food you eat go straight to your waistline. Not only does it help you gain weight, it’s not good for the brain.

In about 2017ish I gave up fast food for one whole year. Yes, I really did! I found I had more energy and my cognitive thinking was clearer. I did not lose the weight I wanted, but it was a good start.

In 2020 I ordered pizza about five+ times a month. Not only did I gain 45 lbs, I found I was sluggish and tired all the time. Gee I wonder why, right? The Pizza Diet is not one I can recommend, lol.

But back then I didn’t eat healthy because I didn’t think there was going to be a tomorrow. I did not think humanity was going to survive the coronavirus outbreak. Hella dramatic, I know. But that’s what depression does. Warps your reality. One could say Depression is a gaslighter. Tricks you into believing the worst.

So, I spent my days during lockdown glued to the TV and eating pizza. Papa John might have been happy taking my money, but my body wasn’t happy. And neither, was my mind.
But it wasn’t all pizza and takeout. I became a much better cook during lockdown!

I picked up an Instant Pot Omni Plus (not sponsored) and got into cooking big time!
I made a Copy-Cat Chick-Fila sandwich, amazing Pork Chops and Gravy and other dishes that made me almost want to become a professional chef!

While cooking was a fun hobby and created meaningful bonding moments with my mom as we cooked together,Β  it also was a dangerous one as I wasn’t watching my portions. It also helped contribute to my 45 lb weight gain, so I definitely recommend putting AWAY leftovers before you eat, so not tempted to eat the entire servings like I was. But, that’s just a tip from me on my own experience. If you have self-control, don’t worry about it! But for me, self-control, what’s that? I’m a totally all-or-nothing kind of girl, and I would love to be able to get better at that.Β  But hey, 2021 is still young, maybe I can work on that!

That is the great thing about your Self. There is always room for improvement!

So yeah, this article is a long one. But there are so many lessons when can learn from a stressful time like the era of coronavirus has been for hundreds of millions of people around the world. The stressful times are in no way over, but if we keep our own mentality about the times we live in, in check, then maybe, just maybe we can learn to enjoy existing and making every day count, just like those corny greeting cards tell us to.

Happiness doesn’t always come easy, but it’s easily always worth it. And yes my friend, YOU deserve to be happy. Don’t let anyone else, even yourself, tell you otherwise.

I hope these “lessons” have helped! A lot of them are stuff already known but forget every day.Β  I think the biggest thing I discovered in recent years was how amazing binaural beats and guided meditations / hypnosis have been. You do have to be careful who you let in your head. Do some research and make sure the person is legit, like a certified hypnosis. But even if they aren’t certified, read the comments of the video and see if they’ve helped others. If they have a large following i.e. subscriber count, and/or lots of positive comments on the channel, chances are you can trust them.

But people know these are stressful times. And bad people take advantage of that. So just do a little searching to make sure the guided meditation videos are there to help you. I personally haven’t come across any harmful ones, but just wanted to throw that caution there. Not to make you paranoid, because I genuinely believe most people want to help, but you know. Some people just suck. Not you though, I’m sure πŸ™‚

ANYWAY sorry for that tangent. I think that is a good stopping place for this article. I hope it helped get you ideas on how to manage stress, depression and anxiety! My condition runs in the family, so I don’t think depression will ever truly leave me. But I refuse to be defined by it, and I refuse to live the rest of my life like I lived in Lockdown. A depressed pizza-holic who was anything but productive.

That being said, I am pleased I survived. And I will continue to work on my stress every day so that it doesn’t control me.

One thing I did re-learn was that I control my thoughts. My thoughts do not control me.

And I hope you have a safe and happy Monday, my friends! Be well! Stay safe! Stay Creative & Geeky!

~Claire

The BreakDown:

  1. Give Yourself Grace
    • Reflect Daily or Weekly in a Journal or brain dump
    • Treat Yourself As Kindly as you would your pet, a stranger or a friend
    • Make the space you spend the most time in comfortable and inspiring
  2. Keep Routines Simple
    • Keep it Simple! Instead of listing every single step on your to-do-list, try to group them in a category instead
    • Be kind to yourself if you don’t have energy to do everything on your list, even a little progress is better than no progress at all!
    • Keep trying then next day! Don’t give up on a goal just because you’re not on a winning streak, keep going!
  3. Life Does in Face, Move On
    • In 2020 it reminded me the world moves on whether you stay in bed all day or are actually productive. So do what is right for you! Do you boo, do you!

Got any tips of your own that helps you manage stress and mental chatter? Share in the comments below! Might help a fellow Creative Geek πŸ™‚

Catch the Video version of this blog here and if you could kindly subscribe to my YouTube channel you’d be my BFF!!!! Cheers! πŸ₯‚