It's #WellnessWeek!! As we navigate through our series of empowerment, self-love, and financial awareness, we also wanted to connect and align with our health and wellness goals.
These times have been very hard. It seems like everyday we are faced with more bad news, uncertainty, bad luck, racial discrimination, and lack of hope. You all have been asking what can we do to manage our mental health? How can we overcome these terrible times and maintain positivity and hope? We sat down with business owner and Yogi extraordinar Cassandra Farnan to discuss ways to manage stress, depression, and our mental health while in quarantine and beyond.
1. How are you coping while being in quarantine?
I’m trying to stay busy, working on my yard and house, hanging out with my husband and dog. Some days are easier than others but I miss my family and interacting with people in person.
2. How can we destress and unwind from home?
If you live with people, make a corner or section completely your own. For some people it’s space to do yoga for others it’s gardening or playing music. Find something you truly enjoy to do that’s not work. It might take effort but allowing your mind to be focused or engaged in something can help alleviate stress. Sometimes just taking a moment to be still is all we really need.
3. Why is it important to stay active and maintain a healthy diet?
Staying physically active and eating well helps develop a healthy mind. Of course, they’re good for the body. Think about how you feel when you wake up hungover, it’s the worse! A day after working out and eating well, you’ll probably wake up with a restful night’s sleep, ready to take on the day.
4. How can our mental Health be affected while in quarantine?
How couldn’t it? Being told to stay home, stay away from all of our friends and family, all while people are getting sick and dying. This is a major stress. I work mainly from home. While my lifestyle hasn’t changed much, being told I can’t do things has been challenging. While I understand and respect why, it’s still difficult. You might feel like your thriving one day and the next need to melt into the couch. All feelings are validated and real. It’s okay to feel them. Yoga helps us acknowledge them for what they are and not hold onto them or let them take over.
5. What are good beginner yoga poses we can do at home?
1. Easy seat - Sitting on your railing, spine tall, legs can be crossed or out stretched. This is great for meditating and centering yourself. If you feel unstable you can always sit in a chair or lean against the wall.
2. Child’s pose - This is a must know pose that you can take any time you want. Start in a table (explained below). Bring your knees are as wide as your mat, big toes to touch, release your tailbone down to your heels, your head down to the ground or pillow. Extend your arms so that your palms or finger tips are touching down. As you breathe in, make space in the belly. As you breathe out, let your hips sink deeper down.
3. Plank - Wrists under shoulders, engage the core
4. Down dog - Making an upside down ‘V’ with your body. Tailbone is high and your head is hanging heavy between your biceps. Your hands and feet should be as far away from each other as they are when you’re in plank. While your in down dog you can shake out your legs, your head. You can do as many steps as you need to come back into your forward fold.
6. How many minutes or hours per day should we be active?
This varies for everyone, even in quarantine everyone’s schedule is different. 30 minutes to an hour is ideal for me depending on the activity.
7. What are good breathing techniques we can do to manage anxiety?
There is a breathing technique called 4-7-8. You inhale for the count of 4, hold your breath in to the count of 7, and exhale to the count of 8. This may seem difficult at first, don’t worry. The more you practice, the longer you will be able to breathe. You’re bringing full awareness to your breath, your life force. As long as you are breathing, you can overcome whatever is causing your anxiety at that moment.
8. How does yoga as a practice manage depression and anxiety?
It brings your attention back to your breath. Yes, it might make you more limber, physically and mentally. And when your body feels good, typically your mind does. Personally, it has instilled a major sense of detachment. We can acknowledge everything that we are feeling and thinking but that doesn’t mean it has to consume us. You can flow through a practice or meditate and think about everything that is bothering you in every aspect and then leave it there. On your mat. Thinking something through, putting it out into the universe and then letting life go on. Again, this might not happen the first time you sit on your mat. It comes with practice.
9. What advice do you have for those who are trying to cope with being home for long periods of time?
Get some fresh air. If you can’t take a stroll around the block, sit on your front or porch. If you can’t do that, sit near a window. Breathe in fresh air. If possible, stand in grass, dirt, water, sand, barefoot. Literally connect with the earth. And then call your best friend and vent. Ha! Then let them vent! Everyone still needs to be heard.
10. Any last thoughts or words or encouragement?
I hope this was helpful. This is a crazy time in history. We all need something. Yoga is for everyone, all bodies, all minds. There are so many different types of yoga and there is an accessible practice for everyone. It’s okay if you can’t touch your toes or do a handstand. Breathe. You just did yoga. Also! If you don’t like yoga, don’t do it. Find your yoga: play music, garden, bake, whatever keeps you centered, that’s your yoga.
For more yoga and meditation techniques follow Cassandra Farnan on Instagram @saltwateryoga.nj www.saltwateryoganj.com
The funny thing about this post is that it's been sitting in my drafts since January... Welp... Here we go!
The date is April 29, 2020 and ironically day 50 of being quarantined in my home and working from home remotely due to COVID-19. I have to say I have never felt more happy, relaxed, centered, calm, and in tune with myself then I do now. I've been being observant watching my friends and colleagues be proactive by creating events for women, writing books, creating new music, teaching classes, making viral Tik Tok videos, and starting new businesses. For me, this quarantine has pushed me to do the opposite... absolutely nothing...
Anyone who knows me, knows that I've always been that ambitious friend who was always hosting events, involved with non-profits, making sure I was at everyone's birthday party and event, and constantly trying to find ways to give back to our inner city young girls. In a time where being proactive has become "popular" I've found myself not feeling motivated to do anything new. Before this pandemic, I was stressed, running around, taking on numerous new projects, and truly burning myself out. Because I work in NYC, I would be on the bus by 7:45am and take the 6pm bus home and arrive by 7:15pm. As you can see, my entire day was gone by the time I got home with only maybe 2 hours to cook dinner, watch tv, and unwind, and then do it all over again the next day. On weekends, my time again was dedicated to other people. I was supporting my friends events (which I love to do), attending birthday parties, bridal showers, baby showers, and graduation parties. I made sure I was there for everyone and if I couldn't be there for them in person, I made sure I sent a gift, always. That amount of energy being put into other people and things is not healthy, and I didn't realize that until this year...
In one of our pre-marital counseling classes our Pastor asked us what bring us happiness as individuals and what do we do to unwind from our day to day. I sadly couldn't answer the question. I really thought long and hard about it and I couldn't think of anything I do, or could do to bring myself happiness. I immediately started talking about my community service work and how much I love to see other people succeed. I found joy in helping others and it made me feel complete to pour into others and do good things for the community. I felt like that was my "fun" and escape. I was kindly told by my Pastor that, helping others is not an outlet or escape from life, and that I would soon crash from trying to be everywhere for everyone.
My fiancé happily gave examples of how he de-stresses from from his day to day and with him being a homebody, it wasn't hard for him to answer the question. He de-stresses mostly by playing video games and gains his fun/excitement from challenging himself to battle his friends in online matches, which is great! As I stared at him while he was giving his answer, I was so jealous that I didn't have an outlet that brought me the same joy and escape. I prayed that night, that God would guide me on what to do next. I didn't feel like I was burning myself out, and I felt happy and content with where I was in life. Things were working for me, and I felt okay being on the go and constantly moving around. This was in January 2020, and in only 2 short months, God showed up and gave me what I prayed me....
We were asked to self-isolate and quarantine from our offices on Wednesday, March 11, 2020...
Let me tell ya'll.... It's been 50 days of self reflection, peace, stillness, hope, patience, prayer, meditation, and love. As soon as I stopped trying to be there for everyone but myself, I immediately became in tune with my wants and needs. I began to align myself with God's plan, and focused 100% on my physical and mental health.
This pandemic has slowed me down drastically. It has humbled me and enabled me to see life in a much more precious way. I stopped planning, closed the tabs on my laptop, and became fully still. I've excepted that it's okay for things not to go as planned. I'm finally okay with not being perfect. The weave and makeup came off and I took a real look in the mirror and asked myself who are you?
It's amazing what happens when you stop pouring into other people and start pouring into yourself.
It's been an eye opening journey that is truly just beginning.
No one knows when this quarantine will end but what's most important during this difficult time, is you. Don't feel pressure to create or think. It's okay to just watch a movie and eat ice cream (not every day) but you get my point. Take care of yourself and pour into you. Read a new book, start journaling, listen to music one day instead of watching Netflix. Try meditating and follow yoga videos on YouTube. Really reconnect with yourself before trying to find ways to pour into others, it's so important for your mental health and well-being.
We will get through this, but in the meantime remember, you come first always.
Be safe, ya'll!
Me: 2018 is about to be my year. I'm about to elevate in every area of my life. I'm going to grow my income, increase my credit score, travel the world, and finally find the man of my dreams.
Did anyone else's 2018 end up like this?
With such high expectations we thought we were winning 2018. The year came and went and we were left dumbfounded about most of the decisions that were made against us. It must have been something in the air because things were just not adding up.
Despite disappointment after disappointment we still persevered and here we are ready to create our 2019 goals but this time around we are going to get it right.
For me, my disappointment mainly came from expecting elevation in the workplace. It's hard to elevate when your superiors are comfortable with where you currently are and what you are already doing without complaining. It's similar to being in a long relationship. Once the man is comfortable with you there's no need to promote you, because you are already doing everything. It's not that they don't think highly of you, they just like where you are and things are great the way they are so why change it? Because of that, everyone around you starts to grow but you remain in the same place while taking on more tasks.
I then became stuck in a place where "I" was growing but my title wasn't. Then, guess what? They bring in someone else to do the job you are already doing because they know you aren't going anywhere. So now they have the best of both worlds. They have new fresh talent and they have you, someone who already knows the ropes. So now you are reporting into the new person that you have more experience than...
How do you overcome disappointment when you deserve so much more? How do you continue to work hard when your peers are trying to hold you back? Getting through disappointment starts with understanding your worth. Know who you are!
If you are expecting a breakthrough and you don't receive it, know that it wasn't your time to shine. It doesn't mean you are unworthy of the blessing. It is extremely hard to keep pushing through bad news but once you understand your worth and what you bring to the table you will not feel the need to pout.
Align yourself with where the universe wants you to go and stand firm along that journey. No one can stop your blessing.
Hold your head up high through the hardships of life and remember that your time is coming. Your current situation does not define your outcome. The best is yet to come.
In this thing we call life, we have the tendency to lose focus on ourselves. We work nonstop, we thrive to be in successful relationships and friendships and care so much about elevating that we lose focus on our well being. It is so important to take a step back and reevaluate what is truly important to us and that should be ourselves.
I speak from experience when I say that I always put others before myself. Especially being that I am a giver and I genuinely love to see people around me succeed. Sometimes I exert so much energy into making sure everyone around me is happy that I tend to lose focus on MY needs and the things I can handle in my day to day life. For example, saying yes to attending EVERYONE'S birthday, event, Bridal Shower, Wedding, baby shower, gender reveal, engagement party, graduation party, etc and sometimes saying yes knowing that I already have 2 events to attend that day. I had to tell myself CHOOSE YOU and stop allowing people to pull me in so many different directions. It's okay to say no. I would exhaust myself going to 4 events in one day just to give my love and support when in actuality that wasn't necessary.
Choosing yourself brings a sense of peace. It allows you to reconnect with YOUR needs and start to understand who you are as a person. I really had to sit with myself and make a promise to stop saying yes to everyone. It was a sigh of relief knowing that I was choosing me first.
In addition to that, we have to make time to get to know who we are. Before you can truly be happy in a relationship, at your job, or even as a person, you have to get to know yourself and that starts with spending time alone and being happy by yourself. Going to the movies, taking a walk in the park, meditating, going to a restaurant, all by yourself is something you should get use to doing.
Trying to gain fulfillment in other people, things, and experiences is never going to cut it. It will only bring temporary happiness. Choosing yourself allows you to see that happiness is an inside job. It starts and grows from within. Take the time to get to know you, and you'll truly begin to elevate.