In the past few weeks, Alex and I have been feeling stressed out amidst NYC’s PAUSE, so we’ve started doing a few things to help stay positive. It’s been a very strange time where we have been going through many ups and downs and know our family and friends have been too. Communities, individuals and the world at large have been impacted in many ways.
Recently, we have added a few small changes into our days that have really helped with our individual and collective moods! I’d love to hear if you also have suggestions that can make the day better!
1. Exercising for 15-20 minutes:
We have found that a short workout has really boosted our spirits. One day, Alex suggested that we walk up and down the stairs of our apartment. The thought of putting on shoes, masking up and sanitizing upon our return didn’t sound too exciting at the time (although it’s still very doable!), so I suggested we try a YouTube workout.
We discovered a super chill YouTuber that works for the both of us!
Alex straight away didn’t really care for the idea, thinking that the instructor might be annoyingly cheerful or too promoting of sponsors, etc. However, as I searched “20 minute dumbbell workout” we were pleasantly surprised to find Zeus Fitness. The workouts are easy to follow, the fitness instructor is chill, informative and motivating and the workouts are very effective.
We’ve particularly enjoyed the below workout, which has us laughing at the end when we are struggling with the flys while pushing through, sweat beating down our faces. We are in a very tiny NYC studio apartment but have enough room to do the workout sharing a yoga mat for most exercises.
It only takes using the dumbbells we already had – and they’re not super heavy!
We each put on some velcro arm weights as well as hold dumbbells for the duration of the workout. They are not extremely heavy but they do the trick! Alex holds 12 lbs in each hand and I hold 8 lbs in each hand. When the workout is complete, we feel instantly better and it’s been a nice addition to our day. We’ve been trying to do one of the workouts from this channel 4-6 times a week.
2. Burning Sage can boost your mood:
I’ve loved to burn sage for quite some time now, but Alex had never done it before so it was fun to introduce him to it. We’re not on a regular schedule for burning it, but we’ve found that it helps with a few things.
Who knew sage could be a natural mosquito repellent?
First, sometimes mosquitoes will get into our apartment and they will devour me alive during the night. They never go to Alex and always come to me! The only time they have ever decided to bite Alex instead of me was when I doused myself in peppermint oil, covered my entire body in a blanket so no skin was exposed and put in earplugs so that they wouldn’t buzz in my ears. Seriously, that was the only time! Burning sage has helped us have fewer mosquitoes which has been amazing because it helps us to get enough sleep.
Burning sage really does instantly lift and boost our mood.
Additionally, when we just are in a rut or feeling a bit down or off, when we burn sage, it changes the atmosphere of the apartment. We will walk from area to area of the apartment and hold the burning sage high up so that the smoke is above our heads and then think of positive things that we hope for or are grateful for. It helps to clear our heads and it brings a nice aroma to the space.
Overall, we’ve found that it helps to shift the feeling of our space and at the same time helps to boost our mood. There’s something about burning it that just feels very therapeutic and helps us to reduce stress.
3. Giving Each Other Space:
Many of you know that Alex and I share about 400 square feet of space in NYC. It’s tight, there are no bedrooms, and we usually have to communicate a lot when cooking, because we don’t want to accidentally burn each other when walking with something hot. It’s actually really super fun living with the small space challenge and we don’t find it as bad as many think it would be. But at times, we all just need time to ourselves to fuel up on our individual interests and a physical separation of space can allow for that.
This is truly what is means to live in a small NYC apartment!
Because the only physical space that is somewhat delineated from our main space is either the bathroom or our lofted bed (which actually just overlooks the main space within the main space), we never truly get much physical separation. We can’t necessarily say, “Hey, babe, I’m heading to the other room” because there is no other room. It almost feels as if we are always within 10 feet of each other!
We took something we already owned to repurpose it.
Recently, we found that a simple divider already existing in our space could be repurposed. Typically, we use this divider to conceal the storage space underneath the loft. Here’s a picture of me sitting in our main space and you can see the divider is folded in half. Behind it is the storage section we usually will cover up when we’ve had guests over in the past.
If Alex sits in the corner chair (as shown in my Zen Corner post), he usually faces me if I’m sitting on the couch above. We found that we could take the divider and simply wrap it around him to create a physical separation to provide some privacy. It really worked! We don’t mind sitting in the same room and looking at each other, but when he’s had to concentrate while studying or working on a group project with others, it’s been beneficial.
Also, it’s just pretty hilarious. My brother asked me if this was Alex’s “timeout” corner! HAHAHA!
4. Indulging in Coffee but Reducing Other Things:
With staying in so much more than ever before, we have been walking a lot less. During NYC’s PAUSE, I think we have left our apartment maybe five times in total. We do have a small balcony which allows us access to fresh air but actually setting foot outside into the community has been much reduced.
With that being said, the dumbbell workout has been really helpful but we just aren’t getting in as many natural steps as in the past. In the past, I was walking to work 20-25 minutes each way, we would have activities and walk to the subway, or we would stroll the neighborhoods just because there was always so much to see and do.
Now, the daily happenings of the city are extremely different. While the parks are open and many are exercising outdoors, we decided to keep going outside to a minimum as best as we can until it’s safer for all. The new reduction in everyday activity hasn’t been easy and for most people to change routines overnight, it has been jarring. We are all feeling some level of grief, of frustration and anxiety, even if the experiences are different.
It’s okay to indulge a little bit!
With this said, Alex and I decided to allow ourselves one indulgence that we love which is coffee. It helps us to feel happy and provide some level of normalcy. We have been having a few capsules of Nespresso each day which puts us both in good moods.
Alex likes his espresso with soy milk. I prefer to have mine with oat milk or just as a plain shot. My brother got us this machine at the end of last year and it’s been a game-changer for us in terms of our coffee enjoyment level. Previously, we were going out to buy flat whites or we’d make brewed coffee at home, but having the Nespresso at home has been really great!
We just try to reduce something else!
I sometimes say to Alex, “are we drinking too much coffee?” but to be honest we really don’t indulge in any other vices, so it’s been our one thing to indulge in. Then, we have been actively trying to reduce our intake of other things. For example, we have been eating a bit less meat, a bit less dessert and I am trying to eat a bit less cheese! I mean it!!! (Says this cheese fiend.) We aren’t major experts at this food intake situation by any means, but are trying to modify our habits in small ways so that each day when we get up, we have a new go at the day and just respond to positive changes in our bodies that we are experiencing.
I’ve been realizing more and more that how I fuel my body really makes a big difference on my outlook for the day. This goes for mind, body and soul.
5. Journaling in Some Way:
The last bit that we’ve both been incorporating into our days is to try and journal in some way. We don’t always do it and it’s not a consistent effort at all times. We have just been trying to incorporate it more than usual to help cope with the times.
It doesn’t need to be perfect, as long as it works!
For me, it has meant two changes. One, I have been trying to write for fun again as some of you may have noticed in this blog. It’s something truly enjoyable and I am currently telling myself that no matter how long or short, and no matter what type of topic, I will just try to write about something.
Two, I have been trying to keep an excel document in a calendar form where I write some goals and reflections for the day. For example, I’ve been writing a few things that have made the day better such as a gratitude or a feeling, or an observation and then if it is really meaningful, I may highlight it in a color. There are no certain colors for anything, but when I look back on past days, the colors will pop out at me. I sometimes go back and read the ones that I decided to highlight and they are encouraging and motivating to me. Here’s an example of what I mean and you can tailor it to your own style or do what works best for you, if you choose.
Here’s what I’ve been doing lately!
Here’s an example from pre-corona back in January and an example from a recent entry. I often have gaps of days where I don’t do it, but the more I try, the more I find patterns and also things to be thankful for that are really helping.
For Alex, he has been trying to journal for himself. It’s not anything that he shares, but it is what he is experiencing in the here and now. Alex has had quite a few changes in the past year, from us being long distance, to going through the immigration process for a couple of years, to then moving from Australia to NYC, to adapting to a new country and all the procedures and processes of immigration, to suddenly being hit with the pandemic like everyone else, but it amplifying an already transitional situation. I think that writing has been beneficial for him too, and it will be interesting to look back on.
Well, that is it for now! I’m constantly learning and would love to know if you have anything in your life that has helped boost your mood during this time. Thanks for reading and hope something in this post was helpful to you!