I used to be the person who rolled their eyes immediately whenever anyone spoke on meditation. If I read a Facebook post, or listened to friends or family who practiced it – I would simply look away. Not because I did not respect their views or interest on the topic, but I simply did not understand how anyone had 30 minutes to lay on the ground and think about their breathing (what I thought mediation was, then). Of course, I was in a time of my life where I was overworked and burnt out. I had no concept of time or balance.
As a former DI athlete and coach, all I knew was being on the go, traveling, talking on the phone, and working 10+ hour days. I left coaching in 2019 to move in with my fiancée, I took a new job which did not quite pan out due to the pandemic, and I found myself in 2020 with all the free time in the world. One may think that as someone with such a rigorous work schedule and few breaks, that I needed this time or would welcome it, and I did at first. I slept in, worked out, traveled to near by hiking spots and explored the great outdoors, it was awesome for about two or three weeks.
Suddenly, I found myself becoming very anxious. What am I going to do for a job? What do I know how to do other than coach swimming? When am I going to be able to find a new job during a pandemic? Is my partner stressed much of the financial strain is on him? What does he think about me not having a job? Are parents and family members judging me I left coaching, and now I do not have anything? Should I have left coaching? What if I go back into coaching? What will people think? When will this dang pandemic be over?
On top of these stressors, I was in the middle of figuring out if my wedding was going to happen or not in the pandemic, I was constantly worrying about my parents on the other side of the country and I ruptured a disc in my back and was not very mobile. As someone used to running every day, I struggled being stuck not able to do anything active at all.
*Sidenote: I am not trying to sound woe is me. I understand many people are facing harder and more serious challenges. When I was in this state of mind, though, it was hard to have that perspective and I felt like nothing was going right!!
I was going throughout my day trying to find purpose, and these questions/stressors were constantly on my mind. When I was an athlete and a coach, if something were bothering me, I could often just ignore it because I was so busy. I would just push it away. I did not really stress or think much outside of the hundreds of tasks I had to do before calling 10 recruits that evening.
In 2020 I was forced to really know myself, and it is not as comfortable or easy as one would think. I started trying to fill my day realizing, I did not really know what other talents I had, or even other interests. I would sleep in, watch Netflix and that was pretty much it.
After being in a funk for a few months, I decided I had to figure out how to better get through this.
I was researching ways to be more motivated, productive, how to get through empty days in a pandemic. Meditation kept coming up, but as someone who did not value it, I would dismiss the idea.
Finally, I gave in. I decided to try it. I bought the Calm app and started doing a guided meditation every morning. I made myself wake up at a certain time, so I did not sleep until 11 am. I would also use sleep stories on the app, to help me fall asleep at night. At first, when I would do the guided meditation, I still was not really clearing my mind or totally buying in, but slowly with each day I found myself being able to put myself more and more at ease.
About two months into meditation daily, I was feeling better and more motivated. I started applying for jobs daily, created a schedule for myself and tried new things. I got really into cooking and even writing poetry. It was something I did in high school and was super into; however, I had not done it since. I made myself listen to a podcast a day or read for an hour. I was learning a TON.
With each passing month I was feeling better and better. I could relax and get more into a meditation, which allowed me to focus on relaxing parts of my body. My back was starting to feel a lot better, and I do credit some of that to meditating.
Sure, I still have the random day where everything seems out of control and nothing is going to work. We all do and we all will. The fact that I do not feel like that daily and have put structure back into my life has been amazing. I am ok if I have still time, or even nothing to do. Something just a year ago, I had no clue how to cope with.
If you are struggling with any stress, anxiety, exhaustion, fear, ect. I strongly encourage you to try meditation. Try it for one month (because you may hate it the first week). Be totally present. Buy into it. You will not be disappointed. If you find a meditation app you like, they all have guided meditations to help you start out.
My top 5 meditation apps!
- Calm (I like this one best, because of the sleep stories!)
- Insight Timer
- Smiling Mind
If you have kids:
I was tutoring a six-year-old the other day who introduced me to her Mindful Kids box.
It has cards with different short practices for kids. I thought this was great!
The 2020’s and mental health:
More people than ever are struggling today more than ever due to current times. If it is beyond something that meditation can help with, there are a lot of great resources out there to get help. Do not be afraid to do so.
- Talk Space Mobile App
- ReGain (relationship counseling)