KIC’s Laura Henshaw and Steph Claire Smith Reflect on the Challenges of 2020

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As 2020 comes to a close, Laura Henshaw and Steph Claire Smith, co-founders of fitness and lifestyle program, Keep it Cleaner, open up on the importance of community as they look back on the year that was. 

2020 has been one of the most unique years we are yet to experience. We’ve sat back and reflected on the year that was, what we learnt, and how we will bring that into 2021 — to start the year on a positive and confident note.

What really hit home for us this year is the importance of community, connection and friendship. Having people around who make you feel like your best self, that give you support through the tough times, and show up for you with love and kindness.

Our Keep It Cleaner community has always been a space where we have felt motivated and supported, and our community continues to inspire us each day. Below, we wanted to share what we have both struggled with in 2020 and what we will be taking into the new year.

Steph: When lockdown was first announced, I must admit that I was excited to stay at home and watch movies every weekend, but needless to say this started to get old pretty fast.

At first, I was super motivated. Josh and I bought some new gym equipment and were committed to looking after ourselves with all our extra time, but then it became repetitive and I started missing my friends and that feeling of connection when you get to spend time with people.

Soon the weekdays blurred into weekends and I found myself having so much time to sit in my own thoughts.

I have struggled mentally with managing my stress levels this year and have become acutely aware of how stress can affect my moods and emotions. I have realised I was putting way too much pressure on myself to be this perfect version of myself.

The downtime and two visits to my psychologist really made me realise that there is no such thing as negative or positive emotions. We’re all human and it’s okay to feel every emotion, not just the ones we deem as positive.

Because I was almost ashamed of negative thoughts or emotions, I put pressure on myself to always feel positive. What I came to realise is that I need to feel those emotions to process things and no one can be positive and happy all the time. And that’s ok.

It was this realisation and acceptance that has helped me so much in my stress management — to know that I will get through it and come out the other side. It’s been a huge year of learnings and self-development, and I’m proud of where my headspace is at considering everything we’ve all been through.

Laura: Being in isolation was tough, I had gone from working at an incredible pace to literally being forced to stop. I spent a lot of time in my own head and my anxiety flared up like never before. Like a lot of us who deal with anxiety, isolation and 2020 has been really hard as there have been so many uncontrollable things. As a Type A personality person who thrives on routine and structure, it tested me a lot more than I had thought it would.

As a person who is usually self-motivated, being out of routine and losing structure really affected me, and I found myself in a headspace I was really unfamiliar with, feeling really lost, despite the incredible things we have conquered at KIC this year.

I found by taking some time away from social media, connecting with our KIC community and doing out KIC guided meditations daily, it made a real impact. It is so important to work out the things that work for you, and you can lean on when you are having an off day.

Giving myself a break allowed me to realise that I am on the right path, and sometimes you just get little speed bumps on the way. I know that I am heading in the right direction. If you are reading this and have felt lost or demotivated this year, know you are not alone and trust that time will help.

As we move into 2021, I’m making a commitment to work on my confidence — to own it and feel good about it. I’m going to sit down with my KIC diary and put my goals down for next year. With those goals, I’m also going to list tools that I need to achieve each of them, and then I am going to go out there and make them happen.

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