As you might gather from the title of the post, this was a hellacious week. Beset by smoke from the fires, I've barely run in two weeks. The junior high cross country team had to run indoors. A client made a mistake regarding scheduling, led to an anxiety attack Friday and a fourteen hour day yesterday. I worked more than I should, play less than I needed, and I'm tottering around out of balance because of it.
So today, I'm being lazy. I need a chance to bleed off the stress and recharge. Here's my top ten ways of doing so.
1. Go for a run. You knew this would be at the top of the list. If there is a single human activity that can match a leisurely jaunt to help me relax, I haven't found it. John Ratey, in his book Spark, described how the effect of running is as effective as medications for depressed people. If you haven't read the book, I highly recommend it. I liked it enough to buy five copies - and gave them to district superintendent, the principals, and the put one in the library. They like me anyhow, but it cemented my reputation for being a touch odd.
2. Read a book. Not a surprise, either. Depending on the type of recharging I need, I might invest some time in reading a four or five novels of the mindless entertainment variety, or perhaps a deeper classic. The classics get broken out when I need to challenge the brain but the body is weary. The thrillers and sci-fi come out when I need mental vacations. If I'm recharging, I generally avoid non-fiction.
3. Food and a glass of wine. Not recommended for the under-21 crowd, at least the wine part, but comfort food helps by being a touchstone to times that had a little less going on. The wine I enjoy and it's relatively safe from a gout perspective, provided I don't over-indulge.
4. A long drive with the right soundtrack. I love to drive, have ever since I had a moped when I was young and in college. I outgrew the moped pretty quickly, but I put 10,000 miles on it first and explored all sorts of alleys in San Diego. I usually relax/drive at night and let the mind wander while keeping an eye out for the deer.
5. Garden. Not yardwork, mowing or weeding. I like to plant things and watch them grow. Working with the soil grounds me (sorry, couldn't help myself) and I find I slow down and absorb more through my senses. I grow vegetables and have some fruit trees that I pick based on how well they respond to benign neglect. This year, the garden has not produced much for us but kept the deer well nourished.
6. Long, slow walks. Best done with company, in nature. Meander, stop to watch a bird or the flow of a river. Breathe.
7. Volunteer. Cross country season is back and I get to hang out with a great bunch of junior high runners. They're at that fun age where they've temporarily lost their brains but the enthusiasm levels are through the roof. I volunteer with them because I'm selfish and it makes me feel great. Another awesome group to hang out with are seniors as they value every single second. Find someone to help, share some love.
8. A good movie or show. Sometimes, life as a couch potato is exactly what the mental health doctor recommends. You get to define what's good, by the way. If you're in the mood for explosions and outer space, fire up the Star Wars franchise. Need to cry (ahem, just saying, not that I, manly as I am, would resort to a tear-jerker movie), put in Terms of Endearment.
9. Do a favorite activity. I don't write this blog for pay (I would, but nobody has offered.) I write for pleasure. The novels, once written, are widgets that I sell, but in the act of creation, the writing is a source of joy. You might find that doing jigsaw puzzles or pulling weeds (love it when my Mom visits!) or cleaning. Recharging doesn't necessarily mean flopping over and doing nothing. It's includes activity that refreshes. So today's post isn't work, it's play.
10. Solitude. For an introvert, which I definitely am, a solid week of helping people exhausts the emotional energy stores. Selecting "None of the above" and just enjoying some alone time can make all the difference. Yoga, mediation, prayer all play into this.