Yesterday I woke up to a Facebook notification reminding me of something I posted on this day eight years ago, in my first year of college.
Wise words of the day from my Sociology professor: “Don’t succumb to the [college] culture of ‘the more stressed out, the smarter and more important you are.”
Always relevant words! Thanks, Professor Whittier. It inspired me to write a little mental health pep talk. If you’re not having that today but would like a quick and fun recipe, feel free to scroll to the bottom of this page where I share my first ever quiche, inspired by Casey J of Creative Whare. Thanks, Casey!
It goes without saying that it’s been a bizarre week – something that I am sorry probably rings true no matter where you are in the world now. Whether you or your loved ones are sick yourselves, you are experiencing anxiety about illness, you are experiencing disruption to or loss of work or anxiety about the potential for this, your routine is remaining relatively the same but your social circles are strained, you are really enjoying being at home (which is totally valid!) but feeling mixed emotions about everything going on, and/or all of this is causing or ramping up depression symptoms for you, the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting us all. I want to extend my support and best wishes to you no matter where you are and what you are going through.
Some of us whose schedules are disrupted are suddenly faced with a lot more free time than we are used to. It is easy to imagine ourselves immediately diving into productivity mode, but this is not realistic or healthy. This is prime time for us to be gentle with ourselves, to slow down, to listen to our bodies, to work out what we need and what our subconscious is calling for. This is time to get to know ourselves and our bubble buddies* really well and to help each other delve more deeply into what we already care about and are involved in. This is time we have to strengthen our support systems and caring communities and hopefully emerge from this stronger and more grounded than before. If you are using this time to master a new language or write a novel, amazing. If you are using this time to start a fitness routine, amazing. If you are getting out of bed every day, amazing. If you are caring for children, amazing. If you’ve found a Netflix show that does a really good job of calming you or lifting your mood, amazing. If you are talking to people more, amazing. If you are saying no to talking to people more and honouring your boundaries, amazing. You get the point.
Today I’m offering an invitation, and a reminder to myself, to resist the urge to feed consumption and production culture. Remind yourself that your worth is not measured by what you produce, what grades you get, what job you have, or how much money you make. Your worth is not measured by how many likes on Facebook you receive or how many friends you have. You have inherent worth just by being a sentient being.
If you are struggling and need to talk, please don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional. The helplines listed below are free and open to anyone and include a variety of text and phone-based ones. It is a courageous act to reach for support when you need it.
New Zealand Helplines This list includes hotlines and warmlines for depression, anxiety, domestic violence, LGBTQIA+ (rainbow community) issues, gambling, senior-specific support, youth-specific support, and many more.
Crisis Text Line For anyone seeking support in the USA (text 741741), UK (text 85258), or Canada (text 686868) to be connected immediately with a trained counsellor
World Help Lines (I can’t vouch for these personally, but looks like a pretty good collection of help lines from around the world, including USA, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, France, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, South Africa, and the UK)
If you have any good ones you can recommend, please comment, and I’ll edit this post to include them!
Here are three things I try to do daily (emphasis on “try,” but we’re all learning here) to keep balance and satisfaction no matter what else is going on. These are also all things I do with my primary school students, and they consistently ask for them. Note they all encourage us to focus on quality of interactions and experience, not quantity of production.
- Move my body in some way. It’s proven that physical activity causes your body to release endorphins, which helps you feel better. This doesn’t mean you need to run a marathon every day, but literally getting up and walking around the block or doing some stretching is proven to make a massive difference in physical and mental health. Bonus points if you are able to do it outdoors (six feet away from any other humans these days, of course!)
- Practice gratitude and/or appreciation. I run a gratitude or appreciation circle in my class on a (mostly) daily basis. If we miss out a day, the kids, who used to think it was a silly activity, remind me and beg to do one before the end of the day. In a Gratitude Circle, we each simply share something we are grateful for, whether that’s something great that happened today or something in general in our lives that we feel fortunate to have. Examples include my mum, legs, the chance to play in the sandpit today, reading another chapter of this great book, yummy and nutritious food, the plants in my garden starting to sprout, and our teacher (that kid wanted more playtime that day!! :D) Appreciation Circles are similar but look outward and specifically appreciate another person for something kind they did or a special quality you notice in them, e.g. “Sasha for inviting me to join in her yoga practice” or “Mario for always offering really creative ideas that make me think outside the box.” One of my families shared that their child brought this practice home and appreciated another family member out of the blue, creating a really bright spot in an otherwise difficult time. Personally, I use my journal for gratitude, but I have friends who find fulfilment posting something they are grateful for to Facebook every evening. For appreciation, I like to leave sticky notes around the house with appreciations for my partner to find, and I like to message people I haven’t spoken to in a while to check in and remind them how much they mean to me.
- Be proud. This could go with gratitude and appreciation, but I put it as a third point because I think it’s important to specifically appreciate ourselves each day. Again, this could be in a journal, social media post, conversation with a partner or friend, or even a silent meditation, but I *try* to take some time each day to note something nourishing that I’m glad I did that day, whether it’s something sort of small like a yoga flow, a family FaceTime session or a really good poem I read or something big like publishing a poem of my own.
Today my appreciation of myself is my first ever quiche! I actually made this a few days ago but just got around to writing it up today, and that’s okay. I’m sharing my recipe here for anyone who’d like to try.
*”Bubble buddies” is the term NZ is using for people we are in self isolation with. I don’t know how common that term is around the world, but I like it.
Basic Vegan Quiche
Note: I used the VeganEgg by Follow Your Heart, but I imagine you could do the same with any stovetop vegan egg or blended tofu. Please let me know if you try something different and how it came out!
–> pan, bowl, fork or whisk, and oven
–> 4 vegan eggs or 2 cups blended tofu (note I haven’t tried it with the tofu yet!)
–> ¼ to ½ cup coconut cream (more or less depending on how soft or firm you want your quiche)
–> ½ to 1 cup spinach (cooked or defrosted from frozen and excess moisture squeezed out)
–> ¼ to ½ cup shredded vegan cheese, any kind that melts well – I use Angel Food cheddar
–> optional: tomatoes, mushrooms, onions (sautéed first), or other veggies you’d enjoy
–> optional: salt and cracked black pepper
1) Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius (about 356 degrees Fahrenheit)
2) Spinach –> spread across bottom of pan
3) Whisk vegan eggs or blended tofu with coconut cream, salt, and pepper (I don’t like added salt so I left it out and let my partner add salt to hers at the end; I think this is fine?)
4) Add chopped tomatoes and/or other veggies.
5) Bake 15 min. Add shredded melty cheese on top and gently press so it all gets combined, then bake for another 20 to 30 min or until cheese is fully melted and a bit brown.
6) Important step: Let cool fully!! It will be ooey gooey if you serve hot but cools to a really nice and firm texture but light. Enjoy! Please let me know if you try, and thanks again to Creative Whare for the recipe idea that I borrowed and veganised 😊 I appreciate you!