2020 has simultaneously felt like the shortest and longest year of our lives. Most of us have never experienced so many days blur together coupled with so much uncertainty surrounding what is considered safe when leaving the comfort of our own homes. Is this year a write-off or filled with self-discovery and learning lessons?

The answer is not clear cut and you’re probably tired of reading depressing headlines that make it seem like doomsday is upon us for the long haul. Moreover, the pressure to be productive and grateful for this “down-time” can often feel suffocating since it seems as if everyone online is bragging about learning new languages, changing societal norms or evolving individually. Everyone has faced no shortage of obstacles these days, including the staff at Ædelhard. Even in my capacity as a lifestyle writer; I’ve had to learn to adapt to these unexpected shifts. Daily I ask myself questions that include “what is considered “lifestyle” anymore?” and “is there such thing as normal?” In lieu of this, I decided to share some of the candid discussions I’ve had and the learning takeaways. There’s no right or wrong, there just “is”; and sometimes it’s nice to be reminded that you’re not alone in this very odd experience. 

The figures we’ll be highlighting are:

Darrell Kopke: entrepreneur, CEO and founder of Ædelhard

Mark Janzen: photographer, writer and marketing manager

Jeff Schnurr: founder and entrepreneur

Sometimes taking a localized approach is the best way to relax the mind and let go of the stressors that re-appear frequently in our lives. By getting outside and disconnecting for a while, it can allow for moments of reflection and appreciation.

DK: One of the amazing benefits of living in the Vancouver, British Columbia area is our access to forests and world class hiking. I try to hike three times per week in the mountains – which is not only a great cardio workout, but is also an amazing stress reliever. 

However, for many of us it may be difficult to find the time to be able to go outside for extended periods. Channelling your energy on your family can be a great way to re-align the mind and view the time spent at home as a practice of gratefulness.

MJ: How am I doing? I’m actually doing pretty well. I get to be with my wife more and I get to spend more time with my three young kids. I don’t have to commute to work and I can have lunch with my family every day. I get to toss a rugby ball around in the park with my children and endlessly provide my children with under-ducks. I get to be with my wife every night because we’re not really going out all that much in these crazy days. So, what do I do to keep well? I embrace these moments, knowing they won’t be like this forever. I take a breath and realize 10 under-ducks isn’t really that much more than nine. I relax with an afternoon drink in the backyard because I can.

Regardless of the channel you choose, the main focus of your efforts should take into consideration that it can feel very overwhelming to think about your experience as a whole and constantly fixate on when things will “go back to normal.” Instead, re-adjust your focus on each individual day at a time so it no longer feels like an endless queue.

JS: The first trick is to get out of the mindset of waiting for it to end. As hard as it is, I’m trying to tell myself that this is just the way it is. I am no longer waiting for something to change so I can get back to living, but I’ve shifted to how I can thrive and grow in this new environment. If the rest of the world is waiting for this to end, and I accept this as my reality, how can I use this time to move fast while everyone else is standing still? How can I learn to thrive while the rest of the planet is in the waiting room? What can I get better at and what can I improve at?

Find a hobby, take the time to find the positive in the situation and do things that make you happy. There’s no need to beat yourself up about a situation you can’t control, so allow yourself to learn how to make the most of it.

MJ: I watch Super Rugby Aotearoa when the kids are in bed, while also accepting occasional late nights are a reality in balancing the fun of the day. Indeed, work hours have become a swaying mish-mash over the duration of the day, but one day in the near future, my kids will go to school, sports will return, activities will comeback in full force and these slow family-focused days may not be the same. This is my life. It’s intimate. For me, it’s a time to enjoy. For better or for worse, it won’t last forever.

JS: I have travelled so much for work over the past few years – I am treating this as a mini retirement. I’ve taken on three “1000 hour” projects, which I never thought I would have the time or space to do. I rebuilt a 1965 Triumph motorcycle from a bucket of old parts, I am renovating a room in my house and I’m working to learn 1000 new Swahili words (with the help of an online tutor). I honestly thought I would never have the time to do these things, and to spend this much time with family. That’s the gift of 2020: the silence, the forced patience and the realization that you are the only one responsible for what you bring to the day.

And remember, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed and not at your greatest sometimes. That’s all part of being human. The important thing is to not let this situation affect your overall state of being and finding the balance between feeling your emotions while seeking positive outlets to allow release and personal growth.

DK: You may know that in Japan they practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku, which is being present to the sounds, energy, sights and smells of the forest. Forest bathing has been scientifically shown to increase vigour and decrease depression, fatigue, anxiety, and confusion. When I am hiking, I make an effort to embrace my surroundings and soak in the positive energy. After every hike, I feel refreshed and stress-free.

No one could have foreseen what the present situation would look like a year ago. Uncertainty is at the forefront of everything we do, both professionally and personally. We are here to remind you that whether things will go back to the old normal or evolve into a new normal, we’ll all eventually find our equilibrium. Until then, don’t isolate yourself and seek out ways to feel connected to the world and to yourself (while abiding current restrictions that are in place).

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