Being 32 and single can be harsh, especially when you also live alone, even more so when you’re just starting your business, which means you have unstable income and a lot of stress. This is one of the worst possible combination a woman in a progressive world has to live with: alone, stressed, and unstable. I lived with these for 5 years and survived it, in fact thrived it by performing the activities I list below. If you are going through a tough time, I hope one of these inspires you and helps you feel happy, productive, hopeful, and mostly fulfilled.
4. Seeing a Therapist or Life Coach
This is lowest on my list only because the therapist I saw was expensive so I only saw her once every few months. The frequency you see your therapist makes a difference and that’s not a luxury I had. Nonetheless, she was very effective. Every time I did see her was when I was at my absolute lowest and she did give me a big jolt of energy, hope, and a plan to go with.
Once in 3 months
At Defense Ninjas, we designed our weekly class to have an empowerment session at the end of class so that every student has FREE weekly access to a professional and don't have to struggle like I did to get crucial support.
Also low on my list only because it helped me with sleep more than anything else. Getting a good night’s sleep did help me stay energized and hopeful during the day so I didn’t discount that! I’ll take a stretch here and list all the things I did under “meditation” that added immense value to my well-being:
Creating YouTube vlogs on positive actions.
Listening to Self-Talk Audio I got from a Life Coach.
Listening to Hypnosis podcast for sleep, empowerment, and success.
Keeping up with my daily prayers and duas.
It's such an important and powerful practice that we incorporate this into our self-defense training as well. At Defense Ninjas, we do a 5 minute meditation on either empowerment or gratitude at the end of our self-defense class. This short practice helps us appreciate ourselves more and relax.
2. Dance & Games Workout
There are four reasons why this worked like a charm:
Outing: It got me out of the house
Exercising: It got me sweating
Socializing: It got me interacting with people
Laughing: It made me laugh!
According to Anxiety and Depression Association of America, physical activity releases endorphins which helps reduce stress and be happier. I couldn't bear the thought of going to a gym. That was lonely and depressing, so I would often go swing dancing or play Let's Dance with friends, both of which not only game me a workout, but also made me laugh, a lot. The activity also got my brain fluids flowing too so I often found myself coming up with some great ideas later! The only reason this isn’t on the top of my list is that at the time, I didn’t usually have the health and energy to keep up with it. It usually left me feeling quite physically exhausted, so much so that it would cause me extreme dizziness and muscle weakness.
5-6 days per week
So we found a way to play games, dance, and laugh during a typical Defense Ninjas' self-defense class. We do a HIIT or Zumba workout at the beginning of class as part of warm-up and play 1-2 group games that get us sweating, laughing, and also learning self-defense. Yes, we play games that enhance our self-defense techniques, winning two prices with one hit - ensuring no birds are harmed in the process ;)
1. Self Help: Books & Podcasts
The moment we've all been waiting for! Reading helped me the most. I read a lot of books from the Self-Help sections especially those written by entrepreneurs. I also listened to podcasts about the journey of entrepreneurs: How I Build This by NPR and The Science of Happiness by UC Berkeley. These self-help books and podcasts did three things for me:
Taught me soft skills to be successful as a person.
Gave me tools to manage my emotional roller coasters.
Reassured me that I'm not alone in my struggles. Every new entrepreneur who starts a new venture, faces several challenges in their early years.
5-6 days per week
Like everything else, I brought this practice to our self-defense classes. Remember, self-defense is not always against a person. This practice does requires a lot of time than what a 1.5 hour self-defense class can allow for, so we took this to our monthly meetups that we call Philosophy & Tea. At Philosophy and Tea, we get-together, listen to a podcast, do a brain dump writing exercise, and share with the group. We all come with a problem and leave with an action-based solution. It's a great social and support activity. Of course, we also sip on some relaxing delicious tea while working our minds :)
Now, my life is quite different in some ways, but also quite similar in some others. I am married and have better social and financial support. I still work alone as I work from home when I’m not teaching class. I also still struggle with anxiety as my business is still in it’s toddler phase. No matter how much of my chaos changes or stays the same in my life; may it be the people who come and go, or the students who do, or how my business succeeds and fails as it rides its roller-coaster up the rocky mountain of success – one thing will always stay true and same:
Only I can help my well-being.
I truly have the power to make a difference in how I feel and what I choose to do. So I’ll always choose to count my blessings, I’ll always choose to help myself with additional supports, and I’ll always choose to embrace the chaos, not resist it, be content, take a deep breath, and always remember to smile 🙂
Wishing you all a healthy and happy life.
Happy International Women’s Day 2020!
Fauzia Lala is the Executive Director of Defense Ninjas, self-defense instructor, and an empowerment coach based in Seattle. You can follow Defense Ninjas on Instagram and YouTube. Feel free to sign up for a FREE class!