Sjana Elise Earp on how to stay sane during 2020

Sjana Elise Earp reveals all the healthy habits she’s used to mentally help her through this difficult year.  

What daily habits or practises have you found most beneficial for staying calm, sane and grounded during this time?

This is such a chaotic time for us all, isn’t it! I feel as though routine has been such a catalyst for calmness – I’m not sure I’ve ever appreciated it so much as I do now.

I like to invite space and time for as many of these things as I can each day, but with the flexibility and wiggle room to understand that most days I may only get around to doing one or two. Things like: yoga, getting outside for a walk or jog to clear my mind, sunshine (I’ll sit behind a glass window and enjoy the warmth in winter time), journaling, writing my poetry, meditation has been a huge saviour for me, creating something with my hands (for example, drawing, painting or clay play), reading, and dedicating specific hours to work so there is a clear distinction and balance between work and self-care.

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How has yoga helped you through the pandemic?

Yoga is such a grounding and calming force. I am quite certain I would have gone quite crazy by now if I didn’t have my yoga practice as a way to pull me away from the ego and illusion of self in order to come back to what’s important. It has been a constant for me, especially through the pandemic.

I know that no matter what happens, I can simply roll out my mat, move my body and allow the energy to move through me. Sometimes I get on my mat and just cry in child’s pose for 20 minutes, or other times I feel empowered or grounded and flow strongly. It has really been a tool for me to fully express myself and a way to self-care and connect.

Have you found any ‘silver linings’ to this time of isolation?

Oh definitely! I’m actually a huge introvert, so I have always loved time spent in my own company. The isolation and social restrictions have created opportunity for me to focus my energy into one or two particular projects. Whereas usually I am so go-go-go and travelling here and there that I don’t take the time to execute any of the ideas I have. Now, I’m not only being more committed and focused, but I’ve also begun allowing myself time for rest and relaxation, which I don’t usually do too much of to be honest.

I’ve learned to indulge in books and podcasts, and to do absolutely nothing. It’s intentional boredom in order to notice where my mind goes. That’s been lovely and I’d highly recommend.

You’ve spoken before about online trolling around ‘skinny haters’ and body shaming. How do you respond to this kind of commentary on your appearance?

I have had a pretty straightforward policy around responding to negative talk for a while now. If it isn’t uplifting, I either delete the comment or block if it happens more than once. I don’t surround myself with negative energy in real life, and I have no plan on enabling it in the virtual realm either. I love empowering others, and myself, by supporting them and lifting them up and encouraging them and being honestly grateful and happy for their successes, knowing it doesn’t dim my light at all to do so. And if someone disagrees, then that’s fine, but there isn’t a place for it on my accounts.

What advice do you have for others who might be a victim of body shaming?

If someone is experiencing it, my suggestion would be to do the same. Know your own worth, and don’t allow others to tell you otherwise. Take a rest from being online so much, as it can be quite overwhelming if you are constantly consuming it, and then come back to it when you feel you can maintain a more healthy and balanced approach to social media. Maybe “declutter” your online presence, by choosing to unfollow any accounts or people that aren’t helping you to grow, expand or be inspired. If they make you feel judged or criticised, negative or doubtful, then they don’t need to be in your feed.

You have a large and very engaged community around you. What do you think have been the most common feelings everyone’s felt?

Through the pandemic, I feel there has been a collective loneliness. It’s a strange irony from being in isolation together, I think. I’ve been trying to stay positive, enjoy rest where or when I can, and to maintain commitment to even just a few routine things. I have noticed a lot of that in my community as well. Yes, the world and life is very unfamiliar and quite disconnected at the moment. And yes, there is a much greater level of anxiety, stress, distress, fear and depression. I have especially noticed that there is a much greater voiced need for connection (or re-connection) and for some routine and predictability in our lives.

But in response to all the chaos and unpredictability, I have seen some greatness. I have seen so much courage and compassion in people to find ways to connect with others. I have seen so much more acceptance of self, others and situations. I have seen a greater level of curiosity and creativity, resilience and perseverance. In 2020, I have seen so many more people coming together in support of one another in times of need. That is definitely one thing I will always remember.

You’ve been very open about your experiences with depression and anxiety. Has the pandemic been triggering for you?

This whole year has been hectic to be honest… and immensely triggering because amidst the pandemic, we can’t ignore that we are all still shifting through our own personal challenges, and this can be extremely hard. Our personal stuff doesn’t give us a break, simply because we have a pandemic to deal with. The pandemic literally adds to the emotional load for each of us.

I just want to take a moment to congratulate anyone reading this, and remind them that they should be proud of themselves. This has been a chaotic year, and just like me, you’ve probably been asked to come face-to-face with a lot of your fears and shadows, and yet here you are resilient, striving and still growing.

The little (but important) things that keep my mental health in check include: sleep, hydration, wholesome foods, staying in touch with friends and family, reconnecting to your inner child-like creativity and being forgiving. Be soft, go slow. You don’t need to achieve it all.

What’s your go-to pick-me-up when you’re feeling down or unmotivated?

A good playlist. Music can always either make or break the mood. If I need an instant pick me up, I put on a good playlist, clean up a little, and give myself a little pep talk. Or I invert and change my perspective, literally. I’ll get upside down and do a handstand for a bit. The focus and balance required is an instant mood and energy lifter.

What are your hopes for 2021?

I don’t have any specific expectations actually. I trust that we are always exactly where we are supposed to be, and that this is all happening for a reason. This is all a part of our unique journey and the collective shift. I do however, hope and pray that humanity and Mother Earth come out of this pandemic a lot healthier, happier and more connected.

Get your hands on Sjana Elise Earp’s new book ‘You Will Rise’ (Ebury Illustrated, $32.99) here.