This story was created in partnership with the Self Love Collective.
Jessica Gershman is an Indy-based mom of four who’s on a mission to help women reclaim their authentic selves. The yoga teacher and culinary expert (she went to culinary school for fun!) founded her own lifestyle space for busy mommas, the Self Love Collective. Her goal: Help other women step into the most raw versions of themselves. What she ended up with is an honest community where its members can dive deeper into health, wellness, and meditation.
“I feel that as a mom, we can all do a better job at reframing this idea of what a good mom looks like, which is kind of my passion, and giving self love and time for ourselves,” Gersham says. “The Self Love Collective was born as this kind of online library tool and community of other like-minded moms that are on the journey to find more balance, joy, and time for themselves.”
A subscription to the Self Love Collective gives its members access to Gershman’s exclusive YouTube content, virtual yoga instructions, her podcast, and monthly coaching, among other things. Similar to the rest of the world, she had to adjust her business model to COVID-19 restrictions. Prior to the pandemic, Gershman also ran a private yoga studio out of her house. Then the pandemic hit, and she stopped bringing clients into her home for obvious reasons. So, she went with the wave and shifted to more online-based instruction and created content to match her clients’ needs as we recover from the pandemic and its repercussions.
A lot happened in the 12 months of 2020, as we’re all well aware. Between quarantining and social distancing, and the uncertainty of the job market, it’s stripped many of their perceived senses of control—physically, mentally, and emotionally.
As we venture out into yet another new normal, Gershman offers up some advice on how we can incorporate joy and healthy habits into all of the nooks and crannies of our lives as the world slowly re-opens and society regains a sense of normality.
“The way things were, pre-2020, it’s not ever coming back,” she says. “That’s in the past. We have to really focus on what can you do in this moment with the tools you have in this moment and show yourself the best way you can.”
Recognize that you don’t have control over anything that changes
If the pandemic has made anything loud and clear, it’s that we have minimal control over some of the most mundane things. Gershman advises that as the world picks up again, it’s best to not stress but instead remember that we have little control over anything that changes in our lives. Once we realize that, it can save a lot of panic, anxiety, and stress.
“One of the first things they teach you in yoga philosophies is that you don’t have control over anything that changes,” Gershamn says. “So, anything that changes in yoga philosophy is not what they call real.”
A prime example is our health. We can try our best to not get sick and eat healthy, but the reality is that we don’t have direct control over it. The unexpected happens and will continue to happen, no matter our best efforts. This is also true of our thoughts and the world around us. We have some control over ourselves, but the world beats to the rhythm of its own drum. We have no control over it or the people who occupy it.
“The reality is that we don’t really have control over anything,” she says. “I mean, the days come and go whether you participate in it or not.”
Understand that you’re not alone in your suffering
2020 reiterated what some might not fully understand, which is that we are never alone. There is likely someone else experiencing the same thing you’re going through, or close to it. Plus, someone is almost always one Zoom call or FaceTime away.
From a global perspective, nearly everyone was impacted by COVID-19, which is one of the few times in history when the world was all connected by an event and suffered largely together. Individual stories may differ, but as a collective, nearly the entire globe was affected in one way or another by the changes 2020 brought on.
“If you’re experiencing it, someone else is experiencing it,” Gershman says.
One way the Self Love Collective is combating these feelings of loneliness is through its online community of women. Through Gershman’s platform, members can talk about nearly anything and everything with other local women.
Yogapedia describes mindfulness as “the practice of being deliberately aware from moment to moment of one’s conscious experience. It is the state of tuning in to the steam of consciousness as it flows and staying in the present moment with this awareness.” It also states that mindfulness “has been linked both historically and in modern scientific studies to improved well-being and mental health.”
Broken down, mindfulness is an important practice to incorporate in day-to-day life because it helps release those pesky negative and debilitating thoughts. With all of the social distancing and isolation that 2020 brought on, it’s important to practice mindfulness as we step back into society.
“It gives an opportunity to release you from those thoughts and highlight reels that we have in our minds, like these stories that we kind of have running all the time,” she says.
Being mindful can easily be incorporated into everyday activities. It can be practiced when you’re simply washing the dishes, actively listening during a Zoom business meeting or even when you’re taking the dog for a walk. Use mindfulness as a tool to get creative and slow down every once in a while.
Gershman is helping her community be more mindful with its upcoming 30-day mindfulness challenge. At the end of it, she hopes her members feel more at peace, present, and, well, mindful, in whatever it is they’re doing.
Meditate and move your body
Gershman advises to always keep meditation in your toolbox so you can reach for it in moments when you’re feeling overwhelmed or you get negative reels in your head. Although she doesn’t do it every day, she admits, it’s a healthy habit that has impacted her life for the better.
“It’s a tough world that we’re in,” she says. “Meditation and pause, I think that’s big.”
Nourishing both your mind and body makes a big difference in how you feel emotionally, physically and socially. Incorporating whole foods and keeping your body moving are great starting points for incorporating healthy habits into your life.
“You’ve got to find ways to move your body that you enjoy,” Gershman says. “There’s no right prescription for anybody. Everybody is different.”
One way Gershman is helping others meditate and nourish their body is through her YouTube channel, where she offers cooking advice and meditation tutorials. It sounds simple, right?
It’s okay to not be okay
The last piece of advice that Gershan offers, and possibly the most important one, is that it’s okay to not be okay. And it’s also okay to seek help when things are not okay.
“I think the biggest took is to just give yourself pause and room to kind of flounder, to move, to not always be okay,” she says.
In those moments when you’re not feeling okay, Gershman’s community offers tips and tricks on mindfulness so you can blast those negative thoughts away, and yoga tutorials so you can destress and center yourself. And when all else fails, there’s almost always someone who is there to talk.
“I think the biggest takeaway from all that is just finding yourself acceptance and giving ourselves a little room to hey, it’s okay to not be okay or you know, you’re not going to adjust, burst out of this COVID fog and funk and disruption and go back to the way things were,” she says.