From Core

Core Studio Manager Kelli Surritte on Quarantining in a New City

Good Pillar Guests

May 15, 2020

There’s no guidebook to preparing for a pandemic – and it’s completely normal to feel waves of different emotions, including fear, uncertainty, anger, sadness, and anxiety. The good news is that being proactive about your wellbeing can build resilience and strengthen your mind and body. For some personal strategies on handling anxiety, we asked our Core Meditation Studio Manager, Kelli to share her story.

Last January, I packed up my bags and moved to San Francisco. I had accepted a new job managing the new  Core Meditation Studio. I felt so blessed to have this new role and looked forward to transitioning to an exciting new city. I had been living in Los Angeles for 10 years, and before that, I grew up in Oklahoma. Moving to a new city without knowing many people or the lay of the land was nothing new to me – I was excited beyond belief and ready for a fresh start.

I looked forward to meeting new and exciting people, exploring every inch of the city, and beginning this new chapter of my life. I found an apartment within the first 3 weeks of being here, which I was told is a feat in and of itself. I started my new amazing job, really digging deep into meditation and growing relationships with our team, instructor crew, and clients. I was on my way to feeling comfortable in this new place.  

And then – things changed.

Within just over a month of my move, everyone’s lives came to a screeching halt. COVID-19 had now entered the scene and disrupted our plans, paths, and routines. We were ordered to shelter in place, practice social distancing, and well, just hunker down in our homes. None of us have experienced anything like this before. It was quite difficult to wrap my mind around it all. For the first month, it was really hard to adjust. Everything still felt unfamiliar: I had moved in with new roommates, had only one close friend in the city, who I wasn’t allowed to see, and instead of working in the studio, I was now working from my bedroom.

Anxiety and stress started to take over. I have struggled for years with anxiety, and really needed to lean into some strategies that I knew worked well for me. I had to force myself to get closer with my roommates, something that normally would have taken me a long time, now happened within days. One of my roommates works as a nurse, bravely battling this disease on the daily. Meanwhile, we were all adjusting to a new puppy in the house, and she loves to bark. We were all STRESSED.

Being new in a city while this all unfolds has been difficult, so I wanted to share the things that have been helping me through these unprecedented times:

1. Keep in touch with friends and family.

The lockdown forced me to do something I should have already been doing – making sure I was showing up in my most important relationships. Checking in and leaning on my support network became so important. Zoom became my BFF. Since I’m new to San Francisco, and now, have no way of making new friends, I found myself reaching out more to the people who were already in my life. Whether it was a group video chat or simple phone call, this has become a normal routine.

2. Meditate.

Working for a meditation company ended up being a huge stroke of luck. I had support from the whole team and gained a deeper understanding of how meditation could really help my mental and physical state. We transitioned our studio classes to daily Instagram Live meditations, which encouraged me to maintain my own practice. I had been trying to meditate daily to deal with anxiety, and now, I can drop in on a free virtual class whenever I need to. It’s hard for me to meditate on my own, so having the instructors there to guide me three times each day has been my anchor in difficult moments.    

3. Exercise.

Meditation keeps my mind to where it needs to be, but I have to keep my body healthy, too. Working in my bedroom has taken a toll on me, both mentally and physically. Getting out for walks everyday gets me through the aches and pains of working from home while keeping my head clear and focused.

4. Keep a routine.

My saving grace is the job that I moved to San Francisco for. How lucky am  I to work for a meditation company during such a difficult time? I have the support of an amazing team and our group of instructors, I get to meditate everyday if needed, and I’ve started building deeper relationships with the team through virtual meetings and team calls. My new routine is different than what I had originally expected, but it’s really helped me so much. I will continue to lean on these habits in the months and years to come.

In these trying times, we must remember to take care of ourselves now more than ever. We must remember that every one of us is going through our own difficulties. Everyone has a story. Let’s help support each other to make life a little less difficult. Because, let’s be honest: this is really fucking hard.

We will get through this. Not only that, but I believe that when this is over (however and whenever that may be) we’ll come out of this with a new appreciation for life. Now, I’ve lived in San Francisco while quarantined for  longer than I have without, which is kind of funny. When this is over, I’m looking forward to getting to know this beautiful city.  

Kelli Surritte is the General Manager at Core Meditation Studio in downtown San Francisco. She enjoys yoga, cross-stitch sewing, meditating, and photography (find her passion projects @perfectnegatives). She started meditating on a solo yoga trip to Thailand 3 years ago, which changed her life. She deals with anxiety and meditation has helped her to implement practices to help relieve the tension. You can find her on Instagram.