Keep It Cleaner co-founder Laura Henshaw didn’t let 2020 go to waste. On top of surviving months of lockdown in Melbourne she came to four life-changing realisations – and isn’t going to let them slip away.
2020, the year we want to put behind us for good. The year we felt hardships in an extraordinary way, no matter what our circumstances were. The year we experienced isolation and feelings of loneliness like never before.
But were there any silver linings? Were we all perhaps faced with a challenge – one that allowed us the opportunity to grow, to adapt and maybe even do life in a more meaningful way?
For me, the answer is yes.
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2020 was the year that forced me to be more resilient than ever. When tough things were happening behind the scenes for me, I would continue to turn up. I would turn up to work (and in fact launch KIC 2.0 in the middle of a lockdown), turn up to my relationship, turn up for my friends and family.
2020 was the year that taught me some significant life lessons, one of the most important lessons being that of gratitude.
However, when you go through tough times, sometimes it’s important to stop, recalibrate and learn from the experience.
These are my key learnings that I’ll be taking with me into 2021 and beyond…
#1. Learn to breathe
You are probably thinking, you do this every second of every day and you feel no calm. I am not referring to the breaths that keep our body functioning – but instead those big belly breathes that you need to actually stop, and consciously practice breathing.
#2. Learn to really connect
We live in a world where social media, for many, dominates a lot of our connections. Our world is warped into digital ‘likes’ and comments and often we aren’t exposed to the actual hardships or struggles others may be facing. Meaning we often feel isolated in our own battles.
This is why being real in our connections is so important. One thing that really helped me this year was our Keep it Cleaner community, in our private Facebook group. Albeit it’s virtual place to connect, the kindness, inspiration and real stories shared in the community is something I feel so grateful to be able to read and be a part of.
This year has taught me to focus on relationships and connections that fill your cup, and that starts by being real about your state of mind and reality.
#3. Learn to say no (and yes)
There are so many quotes and things on Instagram that in one way or another tell you to say no to people when you don’t want to do things. And that saying no is completely OK and normal, and you should never worry.
I read these quotes – heck I have even shared it on my Instagram with an accompanying sentence along the lines of, ‘put yourself first’, or something like that – and then a second later go back to saying yes to every person who asks anything of me.
If I do say no, I then worry my way through the next few days – as if I have ruined the other person’s life.
Choose to spend your time with people you care about, say no to social catch ups that may not support your mental health. If choosing to not attend a big social event means your time is spent at home doing washing, watching Netflix or walking the dog, then that’s totally OK.
I am someone who really struggles to accept help from others. I often feel totally overwhelmed by the idea of putting someone out, or inconveniencing someone.
From one I-need-to-do-it-all person to another, if someone is offering you help, SAY YES. They are most likely offering because they want to help, and dividing and conquering is actually a really efficient way to do things.
#4. Learn to move (for the right reasons)
We have always been told that exercise is good for our physical health, but the impact movement has on our mental health is probably more relevant for everyone, given the year that 2020 was.
At Keep It Cleaner, Steph and I have built a business on the idea of movement for mental health. Exercise for us has never been about what you look like, but is instead about how you feel in your mind. Movement is such an amazing way to de-stress and make you feel happy (because yes, endorphins are a real thing).
Find what works for you and prioritise time to move regularly – even if at first you don’t feel like it.
Laura Henshaw is the Melbourne-based co-founder of the Keep It Cleaner online fitness program.