By Yulia Fedorov
A global pandemic, rising sea levels, political uprisings!
This year has brought a lot of things to be stressed about, and many of us have struggled with anxiety, depression, and overall mental health.
Which is why when I had the chance to sit down and talk to Megan Sherer, a registered life coach, and founder of Be More and Self Care Space, I was excited to see what valuable advice she'd have for me - and so many others like me out there.
So let's dive right in. Because my conversation with Megan truly exceeded my expectations.
Meeting her virtually, Megan's minimalist-chic, houseplant ornamented room, echoed her warm and positive personality. Not only was she kind and helpful, but she also shared advice that actually seemed doable and left me feeling hopeful and inspired.
Now, I’m typically more of a stuck-in-my-ways-and-happy-about-it kinda gal, but after chatting with Megan, something inside of me said, "Girl, you are not just gonna sit behind your computer screen and write an article that summarizes everything she told you to do. You're gonna get outside your comfort zone and actually do it."
So, I took Megan’s top 4 life coach rules, and implemented them into my routine for a week.
Here's what went down:
1 - I started journaling
According to Megan, journaling is “a great way to develop a better relationship with yourself and your self talk, so you can become more aware of the kind of things you say to yourself, and the kind of beliefs you have about yourself and the world around you.”
In the past, I never knew where to start with journaling, but Megan gave me a great jumping off point. “If you’re going through something specific, you can actually Google journaling prompts for whatever it is that you’re going through, and you’ll come up with a whole bunch of suggestions that'll help get you thinking differently than how you’re thinking right now."
Resisting the urge to start each entry with “Dear Diary” like 12 year-old me used to do, I got started with the following prompts:
- If someone described me, what would they say? (a prompt from Wit & Delight)
- What makes you feel happy to be alive, and how can you make more of that every day? (a prompt from Thought Catalogue)
They say you’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Who are those 5 people for you and what qualities do you think you have adopted from them? (a prompt from The Bliss Bean)
Breaking news: BEING VULNERABLE IS HARD!
I never thought journaling would be as tough as it ended up being. It brought up a lot of different emotions I didn’t want to confront, and memories I didn’t want to think about.
Like many millennials, I’m used to filling my spare time with podcasts, Netflix, Instagram… anything BUT my emotions. So journaling really made me pause, reflect, and tune in to myself for once.
Will I keep it up?
Yes, yes, and even more yes. In the short time I've done it, journaling has already helped me feel calmer, and less worried about the future. So I’ll definitely be adding this self-care step to my routine, permanently.
2 - I started drinking lemon water
Megan told me that warm lemon water was her favorite way to start the day.
And after a quick Google search, I found out why: lemon water has a looooong list of benefits! Everything from improving digestion, clearing your skin, reducing bloating - and the list goes on.
And while most of the evidence to back lemon water is anecdotal, there are so many people out there that say it works for them. So I decided to see what kind of magic lemon water could do for me, and added it to my morning routine.
Surprisingly enough, the biggest impact of warm lemon water had nothing to do with the lemon water itself.
It had to do with my regime.
One of the most difficult things for me to do each day is kick myself out of bed. I’ve never been a morning person and always struggle with waking up early enough to enjoy some “me time” before work.
But because I had this exciting new challenge to try out, it actually made me want to get up without hitting snooze. It helped me feel like I was doing something good for me, first thing in the morning - which set the tone for my day.
Did my skin start glowing? No. Did my wrinkles magically disappear? Also no. Did I gain magical superpowers like I secretly hoped I would? Sadly, no again.
But I enjoyed some other benefits I never saw coming. Plus it's surprisingly delicious.
Will I keep it up?
Hell yes! I feel like one week isn’t long enough to truly experience the benefits of lemon water, so I’m going to keep going and see what happens. Journal, stay tuned.
3 - I did an “Instagram Audit”
Who else has tried an "Instagram Cleanse" and failed miserably? According to Megan, you don’t need to delete your social media accounts forever to feel happy.
What you should do however, is regular social media audits!
Here’s how Megan suggests you start: “Go through the accounts you follow, and stop and assess each one. Ask yourself, how do I feel when I see their content? Do I feel uplifted and empowered? Or do I feel bad about myself? And give yourself permission to unfollow or mute the accounts that do not contribute to you feeling better when you spend time online.”
So after unfollowing multiple influencers whose fun, exciting, expensive, and definitely not COVID-safe lives made me feel worse about my own - and following more body positive, motivating, and educational accounts to fill my feed with, I closed my Instagram, feeling hopeful for the week to come.
Bye bye Kim.
This technique actually transformed how I use my social media time!
Well first, I felt more of an urge to connect with my actual friends and family than I did before. Having my feed no longer be dominated by influencer accounts reminded me of why the app existed in the first place - to facilitate connections and keep in touch with people I love.
And second, following more accounts that keep things real, offer useful tips, and provide regular doses of positivity made me feel like I was gaining or learning something every single time I opened the app.
Will I do it again?
4 - I tried breathwork
When Megan mentioned breathwork, I pictured some complicated activity that involved holding your breath for a really long time, while casually sitting in the splits.
So when I Googled “breathwork,” I was surprised to learn that it was more of a simple, accessible meditative practice.
There are many different types of breathwork, so I chose one that sounded like a fun dance one would do at a 90's Bat Mitzvah party: Box Breathing.
Box Breathing, otherwise known as 4-4-4-4 breathing, is a method of breathwork where every step of your breathing cycle has 4 counts.
- Step 1: Slowly Inhale (4 counts)
- Step 2: Hold your breath (4 counts)
- Step 3: Slowly Exhale (4 counts)
- Step 4: Hold your breath (4 counts)
It’s supposed to bring you energy, deepen your concentration, and heighten your efficiency, and is best done in the morning or during a mid-day slump.
Did the DJ throw me a party hat at the end of my Box Breathing? No. But did it help me practice meditation in a way I was never able to before? Yes ma'am. When I focused on my breathing, it was easier to stay present and in the moment. Throughout the week, clearing my mind became less of a struggle and letting my body relax felt more natural.
Will I keep it up?
A big ol’ yes for this one. For anyone who wants to try meditating, or really just hit the pause button on your day, breathwork is for you!
So what did this week change for me?
Well, not only did it introduce me to a variety of self-help practices that are actually incredibly useful - but it also taught me that just because we don’t have control over the situations we’re living in, doesn’t mean we’re helpless to them.
Adding small daily rituals that helped me feel better, more energized, and more connected made a HUGE difference on how I viewed myself, and the world.
Thanks to Megan, I spent a week as a journal-writing, lemon-water-drinking, social-media-auditing, breath-working quarantine queen and you bet your ass I'm gonna do my best to keep it going. And if you’re up for it, I challenge you to join me.