Making Life Meaningful – Stay C.L.E.A.R.
Here are 5 simple practices for making life meaningful. You can use the C.L.E.A.R. acronym to help you remember to check each of them off each day!
When I heard the news that schools would be closed for three weeks in March 2019, I had NO idea what the coming weeks and months would bring.
What I did know was that I had 5 teenagers (4 of my own plus an international student from Italy) under one roof and we would have to come up with some clear expectations for a healthy routine in our day to day lives.
To survive the 21 day lockdown (and beyond!) I came up with the following acronym and posted it on our fridge with this note: “Stay C.L.E.A.R -Everyday!”
As the days turned into weeks and months, these simple practices have been SO helpful that I have shared it with many clients who are struggling with a sense of meaninglessness, disconnection and feeling “stuck.” It is my sincere hope that it will be helpful for you, too!
Making Life Meaningful by Staying C.L.E.A.R.
C.L.E.A.R is a quick way to remember to Connect, Learn, Exercise, Act of Kindness and Read, every day.
Just in case we were not fully aware before COVID, we have certainly learned the significance of CONNECTION over the past year. This regular practice can include connecting with friends, family, neighbours and co-workers through text, phone calls, outdoor visits or zoom/facetime. We can also connect with others by writing a letter or email, dropping off a card or gift or simply saying hello to the clerk at the grocery store. ‘Connect’ practices also include connecting with yourself, taking time to notice how you are feeling, tuning into your physical sensations (are your clenching your jaw, are your shoulders tense) and taking time to connect to your breath to relax and re-set. Additionally, prayer and meditation can be an important ‘connect’ practice which brings you closer to God/Creator/Higher power.
This practice can be as simple as learning the name of someone new or a new route to work, or as involved as learning a new language. It can be learning a new recipe or how to say “I love you” in another language. Watch a documentary or listen to a podcast. Look up a country you have never visited and decide whether you would like to travel there someday. Research about brain plasticity suggests that our brains can (and should) continue to develop and grow throughout our life span as we continue to learn new things. Learning is to our brain what exercise is to our bodies…
When I was at home all day with a newborn, a 2 year old and a 4 year old, I found myself struggling with post-partum blues (low energy, low mood and lack of motivation). My local gym was advertising reduced membership rates (which included childcare) and I decided that I would give it a shot. After several weeks of 30 minutes on the elliptical, I noticed a shift and I was relieved to discover that I felt better, more in-control and energetic. In his fast-paced and insightful YouTube video called 23 ½ hours (which has surpassed 6 million views now!) Dr Mike Evans describes the ‘prescription’ that is most effective for decreasing risk of diabetes, heart disease, insomnia, dementia and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Walking, running, weight training, rowing, biking, skating, hiking, yoga, online classes. 30 minutes (or more) of exercise, every day!
Act of Kindness.
Simply put, it feels good to make someone else feel good! This can be a simple act like sending a “I’m thinking of you today” text to a friend or buying a coffee for the person behind you in the drive-thru at Timmy’s. Try baking cookies for a neighbor or leaving a note in their mailbox. Shovel a neighbour’s driveway or call someone who lives alone to check in. A simple wave and hello to the person you pass on your walk could lift their spirit as well as yours.
Since the pandemic started, average TV watching-time has gone up significantly. Instead of picking up the remote when you’re feeling bored, pick up a book, listen to audible or read an article. Reading a story to someone in your house or on a zoom/facetime call is a way to connect as well! Designate a particular amount of time to read as a goal each day and get started!
This post was written by Niki, a clinician at Qualia.
Before she became a mental health professional she worked as a fitness coach and yoga teacher for adults and youth. She loves to talk to people about ways to promote wellness and health in mind, body and spirit. She is pictured above with her family (plus a beloved exchange student) in April, 2019.