It’s not always about living your best life

If you know me, or have been following me for a minute, you may have heard me mention that this time of year is generally really hard for me. The holidays are tough for lots of people! For me, personally, it’s a combination of a lot of factors; I have a lot of stress and anxiety left over from a childhood full of dysfunctional Thanksgivings and Christmases, and lucky me, my birthday is smack dab between the two. 

I also struggle with the SADs, and as a lifelong Seattle resident, this is no small struggle. Who WOULDN’T struggle when it gets dark at 4pm?!?

And last year my younger brother passed away in early December. We had a really challenging relationship, and I hadn’t spoken to him in years before he died, so now I get to add in really complicated feelings of grief to what is already a winning combination of stress, anxiety, and depression.

Yikes.

In years past, I’ve made it through December by being really busy. I would normally be ass-deep in producing the Youth Program show right about now, and before that I would’ve been busy all month with holiday gigs. Add in some travel in February to warmer climates, and I’ve managed alright for the last few years.

Until 2020.

You don’t need me to tell you that this entire year has been a shit show disaster. That’s not what this blog is about.

What I came here to say is that I’m struggling. A lot. And I see myself struggling and can’t really seem to do anything about it.

Know what I’m supposed to be doing right now? I’m supposed to be at the studio, training. I’m lucky enough to be able to train even though we are technically closed. And what am I doing instead? 

Writing this blog.

I’m also supposed to be filming classes so I can put together some class packs to sell. My goal was to have those ready in time to sell for Christmas. Guess how many classes I’ve filmed?

Zero.

Now, this isn’t a pity party. I know I’m not the only person struggling right now. In fact, I’d go so far to say that WE’RE ALL STRUGGLING RIGHT NOW.

And that’s the point that I really want to make. Everything is hard right now, and if you’re struggling with new found (or even pre-existing!) anxiety and depression, there is nothing wrong with you. It’s okay if you feel stuck and overwhelmed, and it’s okay if you’re not meeting goals you’ve set- fitness or otherwise.

I know that it’s really easy to get overwhelmed with guilt and shame when you’re not used to dealing with depression and anxiety- even if you have a lifetime’s worth of experience with it, it’s still hard not to get down on yourself when you’re really stuck. And especially right now, when so many of the strategies we may have for feeling better are unavailable to us like socializing with friends, or taking a class at your favorite studio. 

We can’t even go to the bar and make poor life choices!

So, I wanted to share some of the strategies I’ve developed over the years to help me stay afloat when life threatens to drown me.

Give yourself permission to not do the thing. 

Does that thing sound overwhelming and hard? Is it something that isn’t absolutely necessary? Don’t do it! It’s fine, it’s not the end of the world. But here’s the secret: don’t feel guilty about it. Sometimes sitting on your couch and watching the new season of The Crown is the best choice you can make for you.

Make goals that are attainable. 

If working out for an hour feels overwhelming, work out for 15 minutes instead. It’s okay! Moving your body is good for you, even if it’s less than what you would normally consider a workout. Working out for 15 minutes feels like too much? Roll around on the floor while you’re watching The Crown, that’s cool.

Figure out what will actually help you show up and do that

I know that for myself, it’s really hard for me to follow through on stuff right now if there’s no investment. I need to make plans with someone else, and I need to spend money in order to actually show up. So, my weekly social distanced training with my friend happens. Likewise, the online handstand class that I paid for, I show up for. I have to be on the hook in some way. I also know that I’m not going to show up for something that’s on my own schedule, even if I paid for it. So I’m not signing up for anything that’s prerecorded because I will just feel dumb and guilty that I spent the money and then didn’t follow through. 

Remember that a little bit is more than nothing

And this is kind of the overarching theme: it’s okay to do as much as you can, even if that’s a lot less than normal. Need to eat but can’t cook? Order something- even if it’s DoorDash, it’s fine I promise! Remember, we’re not feeling guilty! Can’t get motivated to do the mountain of laundry? Just wash some underwear and keep wearing your sweat pants, it’s cool. Feeling guilty that you haven’t done that HIIT workout? Meh, take a walk. You could probably use some fresh air. Can’t get motivated to take a walk? I’m a fan of rolling around on the floor!

Self care can mean a lot of different things, and it’s not always Living Your Best Life. Sometimes, it’s living your okayest life. Sometimes it’s continuing to live at all. And sometimes, we need permission to let go of all of the stress and expectations that we have about what we’re supposed to be doing, how we should be handling this disaster of a year, or how well we’re coping with the ever present existential dread.

So I am officially giving you permission to cope with no expectations. It’s okay to do less. It’s okay to do the bare minimum. It’s okay to do whatever you need to do, and handle this shit however you need to handle it. Whatever that means to you is the right answer.

And hey, if learning a little more about how to feel better in your body sounds like something you could use right now, here’s a no pressure invite to join me in a class I’m teaching a class for Versatile Art’s this Sunday 12/13 at 5pm PST as part of a Know Your Body Better series. 

It’s called Butt Stuff, and you’ll learn all about how your butt works and how to make it work better. You can learn more and sign up here (it’s in the register for online classes menu). Sound too hard? 

That’s cool, I get it. Seriously, take care of yourself, friend. 

Love, Lauren

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