Happy Wednesday from our 8th week of lockdown and 9th week of working from home, here in Cardiff. From this side of lockdown, we can look back at plenty of baking, the conducting of major spring clear-outs, wrestling with our internet connection for the millionth zoom call and a few Netflix series dusted off – all whilst working from home ,and attempting to maintain a sort of normality, of course.
However, in between the incessant noise of quarantine activities, the soaring highs of gratitude and frequent lows of exhaustion, confusion and uncertainty, it is difficult to ignore the mental fatigue which hums in the background, a mere whisper away. This got us to thinking, what does spirituality mean in the lockdown era? And how about wellness or the ubiquitous ‘self-care’ messaging? In search of some clarity, we are delighted to be chatting to to Hannah Siddiqui – writer, motivational speaker and founder of wellness business The Road to Hannah, on her work-structure during lockdown, overwhelm and letting go. We hope this interview gifts you five minutes of joy and acts as a little reminder that we can and will get through this – tracksuit bottoms, banana bread, zoom calls and all.
How did your journey into wellness and spirituality begin?
It’s funny, because while they eventually intertwined, my journeys into wellness and into spirituality couldn’t have been more different. From the wellness side, it was a long journey that took several years, and still continues to evolve today but my journey into spirituality seemingly happened overnight. While, I believe that both are journeys without a single destination, and that I will continue to learn and grow from them every day, it’s funny to me how both have such a unique story to them.
From the wellness side of things, I never really took an interest in personal wellness until I was 16, during the summer between my sophomore and junior year(s) of high school. It was during this summer that I slowly found myself developing a ton of food allergies out of nowhere. Gluten, dairy, and eggs, amongst other things, were becoming toxic to my body, and I was growing increasingly sicker from eating them. I had been vegetarian for a little over a year at this point, but even so, I called myself the “grilled cheese and french fry” vegetarian. I did not eat a clean diet, and made the excuse that because I was so active and worked out so much, I didn’t need to worry about clean eating. However, this all changed once my allergies set in, and I found myself having to completely re-vamp my diet. I began to eat healthier, incorporate more herbal supplements, I got off hormonal birth control, and made little life changes that added up to a big difference. It was a slow evolution that took some time to get the hang of, but it was absolutely well-worth it.
From, the spiritual perspective, the journey was, in some ways, a lot quicker. In a nutshell, in early 2016 I found myself in a situation where I wanted something really, really badly, but had no idea how to get it. It was in that process of yearning for something so much bigger than myself that I stumbled upon an old copy of the book, “The Secret,” that had been sitting on my bookshelf for years. I devoured it within mere hours, and from there, I dedicated myself to being a student of this work, and learning as much as I possibly could about this whole new world that was in front of me. I truly believe we find books / teachings like this when we truly need them, and I’m so grateful that in that moment I made the decision to listen to my intuition on this one – even if I didn’t quite know it, at the time.
You have often spoken about your busy lifestyle – how do you structure your days during lockdown?
Structuring my days during this lockdown has posed to be a unique challenge. In some ways, it hasn’t been a challenge at all. I’m used to working from home and absolutely prefer it to working a “normal” job! On the other hand though, it has been challenging in the fact that I’ve been distanced from a lot of the practices that help keep me grounded. I love going to coffee shops, taking breaks to go to workout classes, having in-person meetings with clients, etc. While I am super grateful to still be working, and to have had the majority of my work moved online, it still has been difficult. So, I’ve been using this time to really immerse myself in my work as much as I can!
Usually my days start out around 7:30am, with me waking up, making coffee, doing my meditations, and playing Animal Crossing for an hour (lol). I love taking some “me time” in the mornings and right now, this has been my favourite way to do it. Then I head to my desk and begin to make a list of all of the things I want to get done that day. I sit down and start working, and usually work until about 6 or 7pm, taking occasional breaks throughout the day to go on a walk or eat something. While this may seem super unstructured, I’ve always been a very self-motivated person and have had no trouble working from home, so for me a more lax structure works well.
What are your top-tips for anyone feeling overwhelmed during these crazy times and struggling to let go?
The first piece of advice that I would give to someone who’s feeling overwhelmed right now is to remember that they’re not alone. A lot of us, myself included, have felt ridiculously overwhelmed by the current state of the world. We truly are all going through this together, and even the people who seem like they may be fine are most likely struggling in some capacity. Remember that you aren’t alone in this. And if you need some reassurance, call a friend and talk about how you’re feeling, with them. Don’t keep it all bottled inside.
The second piece of advice I’d give is to channel your frustration / feelings into something tangible. For me, lately, that’s been my work. I’ve been creating new content like a fiend, trying to put all of my overwhelm and frustration into it. But this doesn’t just have to apply to work. Make some art, learn an instrument, write something, cook a meal, do a home workout. Find something that brings you joy AND acts as an outlet and channel your energy into it. Chances are, you’ll end up feeling a lot better… and end up with something fun, in the end.
And finally, what are your simple pleasures after a busy week?
My simple pleasures after a busy week include relaxing in a nice, warm, essential-oil infused bubble bath, eating a home cooked meal, cleaning my space (I actually enjoy cleaning), and unwinding by playing some video games or reading a good book. It’s really the simple, little things that make the biggest difference to me, and are the things I look forward to the most after a busy day / week.
Ultimately, getting through lockdown means a lot of different things to different people – whether you’re throwing yourself into work, spending your day on the sofa in your tracksuit bottoms, juggling childcare and a million other things – we salute you. As Hannah says, we truly are in it together and, if anything, if we can find something to spark joy – even five minutes of silence at the beginning of each day, we will take that with open arms. For more information on Hannah’s work, you can find her right here.
The Squiggles Team