Small wins in the face of change

This time of the year is challenging in many ways. Personally, it has not always been smooth for my mental health with its many ups and downs. With uncertainty in my life and around the world, I’ve noticed that I’ve become more anxious and hyper attentive to even the smallest of changes. From leaving my exchange in Indonesia early, to finding balance between study and relaxation, I am learning to take each day one step at a time. I am taking this time to indulge in small, yet equally important wins in my daily life. I also want to note that I am grateful to have a safe place to stay, surrounded by comfort food, and being in good health. I understand that COVID-19 brings a multitude of challenges as each and every one of us have distinct lifestyles and privileges.  Here are some of my small wins in the face of change.

  1. Nearby Walks: When I’ve mustered the motivation to leave my bed, the fresh air makes me feel refreshed and pumped. I took this photo on my first walk post-2 week quarantine after arriving from Indonesia. I couldn’t stop staring at the trees, like a dog’s excitement to leave the house for a long awaited walk in the park*. 
*Unfortunately no cute dogs were captured in this image.

  1. Food, food, food: Anyone else visiting the pantry every hour? I’ve been in snacking mode and consuming plenty of my mum’s home cooked meals. 

With my minimal cooking abilities, I’ve also been using some extra time on my hands to try Bon Appetit recipes. If you are looking to try out something new in the kitchen, my favourite recipes thus far include a delicious vodka rigatoni pasta or saag feta inspired by saag paneer.

While there were wins, there were of course some cooking flops including creating a mini sinkhole in a chocolate cake by taking it out of the oven too early. Safe to say, I will be waiting for flour to be back-in-stock to attempt again.

  1. Moving my hands: In trying not to spend all my time scrolling on Instagram and memes, I wanted to bring out some childhood creativity. Despite not having picked up a paintbrush in years, I decided to paint a rice paddy scene from Jogja. Having a creative outlet was a meaningful way to bring closure to my exchange in Jogja ending early and capturing those memories. Here is the halfway mark from a Sunday afternoon, and eventually the final piece. I’m proud of my work under my dad’s artistic guidance, and I hope to explore more creative outlets. 

  1. Lounging around: I’m learning to balance between watching Netflix and ticking off my to-do list. Balance is essential, and for me, I love to be wrapped under my quilt (like a burrito) and relax guilt-free. If you are looking for a new series to watch, I am currently invested in Terrace House: Tokyo 2019-2020, the new season of Killing Eve; and finally watching The Handmaid’s Tale. 

I’m also listening to the podcast ‘I Weigh with Jameela Jamil’ for insightful conversations about societal expectations and self-worth. A guest on the show, former Surgeon-General of the United States, Dr. Vivek Murthy reminds us of the importance of reaching out and checking in with our friends and family. In times where our social interactions are almost entirely digital,  it is also useful to think about how we use social media to reach out during this time and how the quality of these interactions adds value to our lives .

  1. Acts of kindness: Even in these uncertain times, I am surrounded by acts of kindness and a sense of community. A close friend sent me a ‘check-in’ gift after returning to Australia, reminding me of the power of meaningful gestures. And within my home, my mum has been sewing handmade masks for her sister in the United States, as well as older friends in our circle. 

‘Distant but united’ gifts from Little St Vintage, Adelaide.

I too need to remind myself that I can display acts of kindness towards myself. While my day-to-day routine doesn’t look too different, it has given me the time to celebrate the small wins. I am proud of myself for trying new things and intend to continue this journey of self-development. If you have the means, give yourself whatever it is you need as the world hits pause.

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