Fortify/No One’s Coming to Save You
I don’t know about you but I’ve found myself with a lot of extra time to think, reflect and go deeper in the current situation we find ourselves in.
I’m asking a lot of questions, finding some answers, asking more questions and generally exploring and challenging things I have callously accepted as true to this point. One of the biggest questions that keeps coming up for me is this: What can we be doing to support ourselves and our future selves when we don't know what's coming next?
Covid and the resulting impact it’s had on the entire globe and most communities within it has left many lasting impressions on me.
The first is that while on its surface, the disruption caused by covid may seem like a negative, my perspective on it is that this disruption can serve as an opportunity to pause and really take inventory of our lives, while deciding what’s important and what we want to continue with. For many, the before times might have included things like: long commutes to work, less than awesome healthy habits around movement, sleep and food, shaky boundaries and a relatively constant state of stress and exhaustion. When framed like that, are we eager to rush back to the “good old times?” What if instead of longing for a return to the old, we spend some time evaluating what is most important to us? Perhaps during this disruption, you’ve naturally settled into some new habits which include more sleep, slowing down and spending more time outside. I invite you to think about how you can bring these news habits into your new life while simultaneously ditching the old elements that simply didn’t work for you anyway.
The word fortify keeps coming up for me. In meditations. “Randomly” throughout the day. I’ve been reflecting on my own life (and the collective more broadly) and how, in many ways, many (most?) of us were not at all prepared for something like what we’re living in now. And to be super clear, our collective lack of preparedness is not a judgment. We had no idea what was coming and this situation is entirely unprecedented. But now that we’re here, I keep thinking about how I can better fortify myself and my life moving forward so that I can better support myself and my community in the future. Below are the areas that I’m currently focusing my fortification efforts on and areas I can take action on that are within my control so I can to best prepare myself for the unknown.
Fortifying My Physical Body & Immune System
Since covid exploded where I live (Ontario, Canada) back in March 2020, I’ve been (and continue) to be shocked that there hasn’t been more talk about the tangible (and in many cases) simple things each of us can be doing to strengthen our physical bodies and immune systems. I guess I should put quotes around “shocked” as I am not actually shocked by the glaringly obvious omission in the conversation. As I’ve been saying for years, the basic tenets of wellness are essentially free (sleep, water, movement, food, mindfulness) so turning our attention to bolstering holistic wellness over the money that can be made through vaccines is inevitable and fuelled not by health interests but instead by economic ones. Given that we're talking about a virus, doesn’t it make sense to do what we can to boost our immune systems, rather than outsourcing our health and hoping that a solution is developed soon? Some of the things that I’m actively doing to support my immune system include: moving my body every day, drinking lots of water, getting ample sleep, eating a whole foods-based diet (while reducing sugars, alcohol, and processed foods). Health is literally everything. When our health is compromised, it ripples out negatively across all areas of our lives so why not step into a leadership role when it comes to supporting your physical health and immunity?
Fortifying My Mental Health & Mindset
There is a lot of fear and panic-based information swirling around in the world right now and when we engage in it consistently, it’s bound to have a negative impact on our mental health and mindset. I’m grateful that I’ve been in the process of doing mindset work for a while now as I’ve definitely needed to lean on some of my mindset tools during this time. Stress and anxiety are collectively higher than usual so now (and moving forward) is definitely the time to focus on supporting your mental health and mindset. If it’s available to you, speaking with a therapist can be incredibly beneficial not only for support but also to learn some tools that will help you manage in moments of struggle. Meditation is an excellent tool to support your mental health and mindset as it allows you to slow down, recognize that thoughts are simply thoughts (and that they don’t mean anything until you give them meaning) and importantly, that you get to choose which thoughts you want to explore and believe. If you’re curious about meditation but aren’t sure how to get started, check out this quick video to help set you up. To protect my mental health and mindset, I am very selective and discerning about what I consume. I don’t watch the news (trust me, all the essential information will make its way to you), I am boundaried around what and how much I take in on social media and I also don’t blindly accept all that I’m being exposed to. More on that in Fortifying My Critical Thinking & Analysis.
Fortifying My Self-Sufficiency
I’ve always been a very self-sufficient person (largely out of necessity in my adolescence) but I’ve been thinking about ways to take this to the next level. Since the lockdown began in March, it became glaringly obvious that there are some areas of my life that I’m not as self-sufficient as I’d like to be. For example - and maybe you can relate - I used to go to the gym 6 days a week (plus I also taught indoor cycling). While I love going to the gym, I am also now very awake to the fact that I was reliant on the gym to support my physical well-being for the most part. With not having gone to the gym in more than 2 months, my physical health and physique has changed despite the fact that I’m still moving my body daily. This has inspired me to become more self-sufficient in my workouts which translates to creating a plan for a home gym. A lot can be done with an indoor spin bike, some kettle bells and a TRX, all of which are in my plans for the coming months. Another piece of self-sufficiency that I’ve been thinking a lot about is food and how I can support myself better by growing some of my own food. I am very much an urban dweller without any outdoor space that’s exclusively mine but I am looking into a variety of herbs and vegetables that don’t require a ton of space or light that I can grow in my apartment. Some of the questions that fuel my desire to grow some of my own food is what happens if the food chain supply is disrupted permanently and how will this impact how and what I eat?
Fortifying My Intuition & Inner Knowing
We - especially women - have been taught to outsource our intuition and inner knowing. We are constantly bombarded with messages that we can’t trust ourselves, that others know better and that if we follow our intuition, we’ll be separating ourselves from the herd, for which there are significant consequences. But now more than ever, women (and everyone, for that matter) need to be leaning on and bolstering our intuition and inner knowing, tuning into our inner voice and actually listening to the messages we’re receiving. I recently wrote a piece entitled “Listen to Your Gut, Lady: 5 Tips on How to Tap Into & Strengthen Your Intuition” that outlines all the ways that we’ve distanced ourselves from our inner voices and learned not to trust ourselves as well as 5 tips on how to reconnect to our inner voice and learn to rebuild that trust. Fortifying your intuition goes hand-in-hand with fortifying your critical thinking and analysis. Instead of outsourcing what you believe and blindly trusting all that comes your way, see what happens when you begin to challenge the narrative and instead of silencing the voice inside you, you let it run wild and really listen.
Fortifying My Critical Thinking & Analysis
When it comes to what’s happening globally, I think the best practice that I’ve been utilizing and the best advice I can give in this area is simple to ask more questions. I find that a lot of people that I talk to (about the world, the current situation, etc.) simply accept the news that they read as fact rather than asking some questions to challenge the dominant narrative. Now more than ever, critical thinking and analysis is so important because there is so much happening in the world and things are changing at such a rapid pace. Being able to slow things down by pausing, asking questions and reflecting is a valuable skill to be developing right now. Ask yourself if what you’re reading makes sense to you. Ask yourself who might benefit from what’s being proposed? Ask yourself if there’s another agenda at play in the current situation? Always follow the money. There’s a lot happening behind the scenes and that there’s also a lot going on that we’re not aware of so it makes sense to dive a bit deeper into the information we’re being given and to question it rather than simply accept it as true. It not only makes sense but at this point, it’s essential that we think critically about it all. Remember that bias exists everywhere and just because you see it on the news, that doesn’t mean it’s true.
Fortifying My Business & Finances
Outside of covid, I had decided that 2020 was going to be the year of money for me. It’s been a time of new abundance but also, a new level of clarity and organization that I haven’t experienced before. I was already motivated to get a better handle and understanding on my money and what was happening in my business but with covid and financial uncertainty, I am more urgently motivated to ensure that funds continue to flow into my business, that I have solid financial systems set up, that taxes are filed and I have a solid plan to square away debts and have a clear understanding of what my investments are doing while ensuring that I have ample access to liquid funds, should I need them. This all may seem standard for many but I’ve largely been flying by the seat of my pants since going into business for myself full-time almost a year ago. It feels good to know exactly what’s happening with my money and to ensure I’m taking steps to take care of myself financially now and in the future. As many entrepreneurs have had to pivot in their businesses over the last few months, I too have been spending a lot of time thinking about and getting creative in how I can make money, drawing on a multitude of skill sets to support myself in new ways. It’s actually been really fun, satisfying and fulfilling to take stock of my skills and actually make money by offering those skills to others.
For me, the period of covid and lockdown really has been eye-opening in many ways and continues to solidify my belief that we really are responsible for our lives and that we need to lead ourselves now more than ever AND that there are lots of things that we can do to “future-proof” ourselves or, at the very least, bolster and amplify our capacity to deal with whatever unknowns are thrown at us as we move forward. At the end of the day, we get to decide: what we think and choose to believe, how we respond, what we eat and how we take care of ourselves, how we talk to ourselves and others and so on. While much seems to be out of our control, there is still a lot that’s firmly within our grasp. With everything going on around us, it can be easy to forget how powerful we are as individuals and collectively. My hope is that this article offered you with some tangible ideas on what fortification in your life can look like but also that it helped you remember your own inner strength.