A Very Important Question for You

How are you? No, like really – how are you?

We are turning the corner on 18 months of a global pandemic. Layer that with a social justice revolution, a contentious political election, a coupe attempt, and all the personal upheaval that does not get paraded across the nightly news…

Well, it is a lot.

And I know you are the ones keeping the plates spinning.

So how are you really?

I had quite a few plates crash at various points of 2020, then 2021. I wanted to share a couple things that are helping me in case they help you too.

Grounding Routines

While morning routines are all the rage and do indeed have their place in starting your day, I want to suggest a routine that you can do at any time. And to be clear, I am playing fast and loose with the word “routine.”

Routines do not have to be long and involved. Last year at this time I was balking at the routine I had created because it took too long. By taking the Sustainable Productivity (SusPro) approach, I pared down the routine to what was  truly SusPro.

And I still felt it was too long – because I should this and shouldn’t that. Blah blah blah. Then I came across this article talking about since so many people are working at home now we could fake our commute. It occurred to me that my morning routine was still half that time that I was spending on driving to the office before the pandemic. This subtle shift weirdly gave me permission.

Now I have a series of activities I do in before work and another for after work.

But these grounding activities don’t have to be time consuming or even a series of events. Let’s talk about something even more simple.

Quick Hits

1 – A short walk is a game changer. I am not talking about anything Apple Watch worthy. Just put on your sneakers and move your body. Physical activity has been shown to boost mood and reduce depression. I often find it helps me overcome inertia on the nights we have eaten dinner in front of the TV, then get sucked into Netflix. We are more likely to leave the TV off when we come home. With the TV off I will craft or read or – gasp! Even talk with my spouse!

Source unknown, but I know it was not me. I would love to give credit where it is due – let me know!

2 – We covered gratitude lists in last week’s essay. Simply jotting down when you are grateful for is a quick hit that can ground you any time during your day. I also heard a suggestion to offset each complaint with a gratitude. Find yourself complaining about the heat? Offset with gratitude you can afford air conditioning. Crabby about the line at the grocery? Give thanks (even if just in your thoughts) for having food available to you.

If you are looking for accountability, set a reminder on your phone and post your list to the Sustainable Sue Facebook page each day!

3 – Yes all of this aside, you may only have time for this last quick hit: b r e a t h e.  Instead of walking into school to pick up your kids while answering a text, leave your phone in your bag and take a deep breath. Hold it for a few seconds, then slowly exhale. Maybe even get crazy and do it again!

What would it feel like to give yourself 10 more seconds in the bathroom between meetings to breathe? After running car pool and errands is it really true that you cannot spare 20 seconds before going into the house to take 2 deep, slow breaths?

Your Turn

What about you? How do you ground yourself in a moment of chaos? Or just tell me how you really are.

By |2021-09-26T10:08:15-04:00September 28th, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Crafts Make You Calm

The headline is true – crafts can make you calm. In fact, not only do crafts make you calm, but hobbies in general are good for your health! Let’s discuss.

When life is unsustainable

Burnout is a real thing. It is not something you can manage through or toughen up against. Think about what is happening in your life right now. Maybe you feel like you are withdrawing from friends and responsibilities – isolating yourself. Or after months of battling stress at work, you find yourself procrastinating on completing projects and tasks. Are you going in late or leaving early? In general are you short tempered with those around you at work and / or home?

But there is a difference between stress and burnout. Think of stress as overwhelm and burnout as a drain. Stress is the piling on. Demands on you may look like taking care of kids and parents or covering another person’s job during a hiring freeze. Or the pressure of weeks of daily carpooling that never lets you have a moment to yourself. With stress, you still feel there is hope to find a system, route, or process that can improve things.

Burnout, on the other hand, is empty of that hope. It is the drain of mental exhaustion. Often people who are burned out don’t always notice when it happens.

Here is a snapshot of the differences between stress and burnout:

Crafts make you calm, help deal with burnout

Source: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm

The good news is that hobbies can aid recovery from both stress and burnout. Let me show you how.

How hobbies make for sustainable productivity

It does not have to be crafts that make you calm. Maybe it is music or gardening or coin collecting or movies. Let’s define hobbies as small pockets of respite where you can literally heal and restore your mental and physical self. When you partake in a hobby of any kind, you are improving various aspects of your mental well-being. Here are just a few:

  • Higher levels of positive psycho-social states
  • Increased life satisfaction
  • Improved life engagement
  • Better quality of sleep
  • Enhanced exercise outcomes

I hear what you are saying – you don’t have time for a hobby. But consider me your wise older sister as I bluntly ask you this: Sure, but do you have time for the illness that all that stress is going to cause you?

Because that is where too much stress and too little leisure will take you. Here are some of the ways hobbies can impact your physical well-being:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Reduce total cortisol
  • Smaller waist circumference
  • Decreased body mass index

Taking up a hobby does not have to be a huge investment of time and money. If you want to pick up a potentially life saving hobby, keep reading.

Where to go from here

 Here are three suggestions of where you can start today.

  1. Start small. Make a list of what you might like to do. A simple list on the notes app on your phone will do. If you see your neighbor rolling out for a bike ride, and you think that might be fun, add it to the list. While sitting in your car during your child is at dance lessons, you see a notice for an adult dance class. If this sounds interesting, add it to your list. You don’t have to sign up, just make your list.
  2. Notice what you notice. I believe the universe (God, your Higher Power, whatever name you choose), will put things in your path to make good decisions easier. If you see guitar lessons advertised three different places maybe that is something that you should pay attention to. If you get invited to a Zoom painting class with your girlfriends right after you put “Learn to paint” on your list, it is not a coincidence. Notice what you start to notice. And notice how it makes you feel.
  3. Take stock of what you already have. I had a client who started taking online piano lessons because her kids’ abandoned keyboard was sitting in the corner of the living room. She had been frustrated for years at their lack of playing and considered the keyboard clutter. When we were exploring what she might like to do for a hobby, music kept coming up. I could see the light bulb go on when she realized the “junk” in the corner was actually useful! Look around – there are probably art supplies, fabric leftovers, sporting goods, random canned goods you could make into a creative recipe, and more.

Take time to notice and make your list. Let me know how it goes. We can connect on social media or in the comments below to celebrate successes or trouble shoot where you might be stuck. Let’s work together on creating a life you don’t need to escape.

 

By |2020-09-27T13:46:06-04:00September 29th, 2020|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

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