The first half of 2020 was particularly dull and difficult. I’m sure many can relate to this.

The sudden lockdown forced me to finally think about overcoming past trauma, deeply repressed issues, and long-overdue grief; hence a breakdown was inevitable. Additionally, I had to deal with a range of family issues and the demise of a relationship.

However, things began getting better as the summer progressed. For the first time in years, I was able to spend proper quality time with my family.

Despite being infected, my experience was very mild, and I thank God for that.

By the time October came round life was far more exciting and promising.

I did some local traveling, saw some of my friends after a long time, lived a few exciting experiences, learned to do different things, and even met new people. Despite the pandemic and the new normal, I was enjoying life.

I also decided to truly pursue writing by being constant and showcasing my work.

I was feeling optimistic and upbeat.

I’m grateful for the learning and experiences 2020 has brought me.

Then came January.

Same old, yet new. For some strange reason, I was particularly excited for 2021. Deep down, I wanted to believe everything would better. Safer. More normal. I’d be able to map my future steps.

Yet the uncertainty we face makes any form of planning futile.

I live in Mexico where Covid cases are reaching record high numbers and the near future doesn’t look very promising. Many I know are getting infected and the death toll is rising.

I have mixed feelings about working from home. I most definitely don’t miss spending 2–3 hours of my day driving in insane traffic. Nor being perpetually exhausted.

I’ve also finally had the time to pursue other hobbies and discover activities that genuinely make me happy.

But I do yearn to have real human contact with everyone. I crave those early morning breakfasts with my friends from work, as we caught up on our emails. I miss our lunch and coffee breaks.

I want to be able to freely walk in any public space without a facemask, greet elderly people without fear, and travel without restrictions.

I wish I could hug and properly greet everyone without the fear of a harmful virus infecting our bodies.

And it’s not just Covid, but also what’s happening everywhere. The global economic situation, geopolitics, and disheartening news becoming the norm.

However, despite the trials we’ve all faced, we’re each responsible for keeping our spirits high, our hopes up, and facing the future with optimism.

So, in the midst of this chaos, how do I manage to keep myself sane? What has kept me afloat during the ups and downs I’ve faced this last year?

Gratitude

“ A grateful heart is a magnet for miracles” — Unknown

Gratitude can be aimed towards anything one believes in and done in a spiritual, religious, or even practical manner.

By being appreciative, our outlook on life changes as we cultivate optimism and hope. Especially in the midst of a pandemic, it helps us focus on the positive aspects of our life, giving us the strength to push through.

During my darkest moments, acknowledging my blessings completely shifted my perspective, finding joy in the midst of hardship. This led me to achieve things that I thought impossible, doors easily unlocked towards new paths.

Over the last few months, I’ve made it a habit to start my day by thanking God and life for everything I do have; both the big and the little things.

Long Walks

“I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than trees”— Henry David Thoreau

The most healing of all.

I spent about 5 months of the pandemic in a suburb, my walks taking place mostly in wide, beautiful streets filled with houses and trees. Upon returning to the city, I continued to do so in several parks and at times in forests on the outskirts of town.

Regardless of the place, listening to peaceful music while undertaking a 2–3 hour walk can be completely healing. It helps me clear my thoughts, balance my emotions, and find myself. As an ambivalent personality, it helps me recharge.

Physically, these walks have also helped me keep active and healthy considering I spend most of my day on a chair, in front a computer.

Once the pandemic lockdown measures are relaxed, I will look to join a professional hiking group. Although I’ve gone on several hikes in the past, I’m sure I’d enjoy it more thoroughly today.

Writing

“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written largely in his works” — Virginia Woolf

To me, writing is a form of therapy, a gateway to my subconscious mind. It has helped me decipher much of what I refused to consciously acknowledge, expressing my deepest thoughts and feelings.

When feeling distressed, I let myself record it all with no reservations.

Sometimes, I’ll grab a notebook and a pen, writing until my fingers feel numb. Yet usually I opt to type, witnessing how my mind spills over, rapidly taking the form of endless print on my screen.

By doing so, I’ve discovered new aspects of myself, reaching unknown depths of my inner being. It’s also shed a different light on specific events, bringing to memory details that I thought had been forgotten.

While this has made me more conscious of my virtues, my shortcomings have also become more evident.

When I write about people in my life, many have surprisingly become characters very different from whom I thought they were; some for the better, others for the worse. This has allowed me to be more honest with both myself and others.

Writing, I trust, is sharpening self-awareness and my intuition.

Family

“We have two families in life: The one we’re born into, and the one that we make for ourselves afterward” — Valerie Simpson

My family has been my biggest and most important support system these last months. I’ve been working remotely since the last march, thus I’ve spent more time with them than I ever did in the last 6 years.

Their presence is priceless. They’ve accompanied me throughout this period of transformation, always eager to listen and providing me the most honest advice. I’m free to express both joy and vulnerability around them.

We’ve also been brutally straightforward about our feelings, teaching us to be more empathic and accepting. This has enabled us to work through a range of past issues, letting of what no longer serves us, and improving our relationship.

Time with my family is the greatest gift the pandemic has brought me.

Spirituality

“The only temple that matters can be found within yourself” — The Dalai Lama

I’ve always been inclined towards spirituality and alternative practices.

However, over the last two years, I was distracted by numerous situations that led me astray from this path.

My anxiety slowly began taking hold of me as I increasingly felt ungrounded, irritable, and restless. This was especially notable the months prior to the pandemic and during the first months of lockdown.

By mid-2020 I could no longer recognize myself. I’d become a vulnerable nervous wreck; losing the strong yet free-spirited spark that has always characterized me.

Those close to me were alarmed by this change, it was evident that I wasn’t being me.

Slowly regaining focus on spirituality has increased my self-awareness and my inner peace. Reading on numerous ideologies, putting some of these learnings into practice, and allowing myself to flow has truly helped me push my way through.

Today, I’m excited to continue walking this path and discover new aspects that will enable constant self-development.

Acceptance

“Happiness can exist only in acceptance” — George Orwell

I’ve stopped resisting everything around me. I know, it’s easier said than done. To me, it’s a mixture of faith, mindfulness, and a hint of stoicism.

Acceptance isn’t about forgetting our dreams or stunting our development. It’s about actively moving through life, pursuing growth yet also understanding that each stage brings different events that we must accept.

Happiness is found by making peace with what we currently have. Otherwise, we’re bound to feel perpetually unhappy and unfulfilled no matter what we achieve. It’s no fun to be fretting over the past and chasing the future in hopes of filling that void within.

Wholeheartedly seeking to accept me as I am today, I cease to be my harshest judge, acknowledging both my light and my darkness.

I’m progressively working on becoming the person I want to be, both internally and externally.

I also fully acknowledge the past, deriving the needed lessons from each experience, eager to see the effects these will have on my future.

Faith

“Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” — Hebrews 11:1

I’m not a Christian nor am I religious, however, this quote perfectly defines what faith means to me.

It entails trusting numerous things, ranging from a higher power to ourselves.

To me, faith and acceptanceare very much intertwined. I accept where I’m at today, I place my efforts in creating what I want, then surrendering these to life, trusting things will work out.

Personally, doing so has always brought very gratifying surprises, especially in moments of great uncertainty.

I believe in God, in the power of my mind, in my abilities, in the people around me, and in life.

I also have faith in knowing that what we put out will eventually find its way back to us.

If you’re kind, kindness will come back to you. If you cultivate self-love, you’ll draw love to yourself. The same goes for negative behaviors. If you’re envious, you’ll attract rejection. If you’re pessimistic, you’re bound to manifest failure.

Personal Lifesavers On Overcoming Past Trauma

These seven aspects have all been my personal lifesavers over the last months. Though some days may still seem a little grim, I feel so much better now than I did exactly a year ago.

I’m much healthier, eating intuitively, my sleep quality drastically improving and I’m no longer ridden with anxiety.

I used to subconsciously seek most of my happiness and validation from external sources. Superficial goals, work, being “perfect”, the hours at the gym, my social life, and even romantic partners. This clearly led to rising levels of stress and dissatisfaction, as nothing could really fill that hole inside.

Today, I seek contentment and fulfillment within myself, believing that much of what appears externally is a mirror of our inner self. I’m aware that my feelings directly impact my view on the world, my behavior, the way I relate to others, and how others perceive me.

I ultimately attract into my path whatever I‘m convinced will happen and feel worthy of having.

I’m not 100% there, and I doubt I ever will be. It’s an on-going process that shifts as we mature and as our needs change.

But at least I now know that I’m on the right path, eagerly looking forward to cultivating these aspects in the upcoming years.

Let light shine through the darkness.

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