Five things that keep me sane
Just like google maps, there are times when my brain needs to recentre. On some days it wanders off just a little bit with to do lists and overwhelming demands on my time and then there are days when it really need to find its way back battling anxiety and blues. Over the years I have found that some things have worked better than others in refocusing me.
Long walks - Deep down, I have the soul of the princess in the pea under the mattress story and I hate going out in unfavorable weather. I adore snow, but only when I can watch snowfall lounging in my pajamas, sitting on my couch by the window with a coffee and a book. I have no shame in calling in sick on days I do not want to walk from the bus stop in knee deep snow. But every now and then, I dust off my sneakers and go for a walk. Walking provides sensory distraction- a change in scenery, smell of wet grass and people doing yoga in weird poses. In addition to this endorphin (happy hormones) is released when we exercise. Walking also changes the way we breathe. A combination of all these helps relieve anxiety.
Box breathing- Two years ago, when my prenatal coach told me that on an average, new moms get 59% less sleep than the recommended 8 hours, I actually laughed. But in the last two years there have been only a handful of nights when I have slept more than 4 hours. Even on nights when my husband takes care of our baby, I have trouble falling asleep. Sometimes because my brain is making a list of all things pending and sometimes just because it has lost the ability to shut off before 2 a.m. One thing that really helps me calm down and fall asleep is box breathing- breath-in to a count of 5, hold for 5, release in 5 and hold again for 5 and then repeat. I have even found an app called Mindshift that talks me through it.
Long baths- Being green is a lifelong quest, and most days I do my part in saving water, recycling packaging, and keeping the peels for compost. But there are days when nothing makes me happier that filling the tub with steaming hot water and soaking in with nice smelling bath salts and bubbles. A warm bath helps relieve physical tension, sooth over sore muscles and gives me a happy glow.
Cooking- A great way to relieve anxiety and stress is doing something with your hands. For some people it is building Lego towers or puzzles, cleaning the house, working on a carpentry project, or gardening. For me it is and has always been cooking. On some days when I am very anxious, I cook enormous quantities of food that is way too much for my family of three. I freeze most of it for days I am too busy to cook, killing two birds with one stone.
Working - For the longest time, I felt that taking a break from work will help me heal. Leaving work behind helps withdraw from deadlines and work-politics, toxic situations and pressure to perform, but it also comes with loss of a sense of purpose. It is true that your body and mind need to break away from constant overwork and pressure, but withdrawing completely has its side effects too. I realized that I needed to work, but at a slower pace. I was fortunate to be in a situation where I could choose freelancing over regular job. I love what I do now and that has made a huge difference in my life. Writing takes my mind off whatever I am thinking about. I sit in my favorite seat in the house (the aforementioned couch by the window) with my laptop and write whatever comes to me. Some days it is gibberish that is deleted promptly and some days it is gibberish that I post for patient readers like yourself.
Thank you, whoever you are, for reading till the end. We will meet again when inspiration or anxiety strikes. au revoir.
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