rest · self care

Why the 5-Minute Rides Count on Peloton

I never thought I’d get a Peloton. But the pandemic and … well, we all know how that story goes. Now I have one in my guest room and I’m on it almost every day.  First, you should know that, unlike Sam and Cate, I don’t race or join challenges to climb Everest or the like. I have never joined a live class. And I always hide the leaderboard away (that’s where you can see your ranking against everyone who has ever done the same class and “race” against them while you ride, even if the ride isn’t live).

Peloton bike in my guest room in front of windows and next to soft orange chair

Call me a dilettante, if you want. There’s worse to come.

I count every ride. I do not delete any rides from my tally. Peloton makes a big deal about counting rides. I just passed my 50th ride. I’m way new at this. During live classes, instructors give shout outs to riders who have hit milestones. I hear a lot of 500s and 1000s and even numbers over 2000. How is that even possible?

Here’s the thing. There are a lot of short rides. Other Pelotonites create stacks, to customize their longer rides. I love the shorter options, because the most common way I use Peloton is as the backup singer for another workout. I’ll shorten my run and do a 10 to 15-minute ride when I get home. That has the double bonus of reenforcing my running strength, but also easing out my legs, which get stiff from the pounding. I’m surprised by how much looser and freer my legs feel as a result of this small habit change. Also, this training technique was effective enough for me to get back to running on March 2nd (after 7 weeks of only cross-country skiing) and run a half marathon with a friend on March 27th. Or I ride for 15-20 minutes before a Pilates class. It’s only really once (max twice) a week that I ride for 45 minutes or longer. And, when I do, I’ve started doing the cool down rides on offer when I finish. Taking that option was a psychological hurdle for me.

For a long time (okay the first six weeks of owning the bike) I no-thanks’d the cool down rides Peloton suggested. Five more minutes? What a waste of time. If I wasn’t going hard-hard-hard, why was I on the bike? Then one day, I was so utterly maxed out when I finished my ride that I decided I had to cool down, or I might just get off the bike, tighten up into a tiny ball of lactic acid and then blow apart in a geyser of sweat.

Revelation. The cool down ride was fantastic. Just what I needed. Brought down my heartrate. Brought myself back into focus. Prepared to meet my day with an even energy. I know, that’s putting a lot on a 5-minute ride. But taking that extra time gives my body a real, physically tangible benefit and has a symbolic value that resonates beyond the workout. Some people don’t think the cool down rides count in the ride count. I agreed, until I started doing them. Like rest days, so critical to our body’s ability to repair and rejuvenate, the cool down honours our body’s need for a runway landing after an intense effort. I was so used to crashing into the finish and bump-bump-bumping off the bike and into my day, that the smooth-as-silk-pajamas transition from intensity to cool down to hello-rest-of-the-day came as a surprise. 

Yes, I am talking about that how we do one thing is how we do anything business. For me, scaling back is its own kind of effort. As much as I love naps and am reasonably diligent around taking a rest day once a week and don’t work myself to the bone, I also do have a tendency to overschedule and not leave enough transition time to reset my nervous system between commitments. Long ago, I used to get a thrill out of arriving almost late for a plane and sprinting through the airport. I think it was a reaction against my father, who liked to arrive hours in advance, stressing about whether he was early enough (and I take here a moment to acknowledge that a few days ago was six years since my father died and I like to include him in some way in my April posts; I miss a lot about him, but not his pre-travel hand wringing).

Cool down rides count. Because they flush toxins and seal in the benefits of our workout.

Cool down rides count. Because they are role models of how to be gentle with ourselves.

Cool down rides count. Because everything we do counts.

Not to get all earnest and mushy on you, I do mean everything. Take five to regroup and check in. Be kind to yourself. Then it will be easier to be kind to the people around you. Oh, and the planet, too.

fitness · flexibility · habits · self care · stretching

Backing it up: Christine treats the symptoms and the cause

My plan for February was to do a little work on my upper back mobility every day.

Alas, that plan did not take into account the fact that February messes with me every year.

A small elderly woman sitting in a living room chair is shrugging with one  arm and holding a cup and saucer in her other hand.
Picture it, February 2021… (Image description: A GIF from the TV show ‘Golden Girls’ in which Sophia Petrillo, a small elderly woman in a stripped dress who is sitting in a living room chair, makes a dismissive shrugging gesture with one hand while holding a cup and saucer in her other hand.)

(I can’t really explain how it messes with me. It’s some sort of mid-winter slump combined with an odd sense of shortened time. Anyway, I have made note in my calendar to take it into account next year!)

But I didn’t get upset with myself about being less diligent than I had intended. I just did my stretches, movements, and yoga whenever I had the capacity and wherewithal to do so.

It turns out, though, that my lack of capacity for daily work on my upper back actually helped me to identify one of the underlying causes of my tight muscles.

Since I was aware that I wasn’t doing the stretches and everything that I intended to do, I really started paying attention to when and how my upper back felt the worst.

And observing that ‘when and how’ led me to realize that not only was my chair in my home office too low and at a bad angle for my back but my monitor was at the wrong height.

An adult man dances in an oversized Adirondack  chair.
My chair wasn’t quite this off-kilter but once I started paying attention it felt like it. (Image description: A man dances while seated in a comically over-sized red Adirondack chair. It’s a sunny day, there is greenery nearby and a few buildings are in the background.)

So I elevated my monitor and I switched out my chair for one that was less fun but better for my back.

Now, I’m not saying that this fixed the problem entirely. My upper back still needs me to do the stretching and yoga. I still need to pay attention to how I’m holding myself and how long I am sitting in one position.

But addressing that underlying cause of at least part of the problem has made an incredible difference.

It’s not just that my upper back feels more mobile and less tight, I feel better overall. I have had fewer of the specific type of headache that generates from a tight upper back and I feel more relaxed.

So even though I didn’t follow my exact plan I still got where I needed to go.

And I’m calling that a victory.

A person in a yellow,tubular costume waves their arms as they walk through booths at an event.
It’s a very wiggly victory, apparently! Image description: a person in a yellow tubular costume with a happy expression on it waves the long skinny arms of their costume while they walk between booths at an event.
habits · self care

Working Out When You’re Experiencing Depression

Feature image credit: Anthony Tran, via Unsplash

I have experienced depression off and on for most of my life.  I also now experience symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder which can feel a lot like depression, with moments of low moods coming seemingly out of nowhere, triggered often by nothing of which I am aware.  It can be very difficult to maintain exercise and nutrition habits while feeling like crap for days at a time.  The nature of depression is to feel like nothing matters, to feel like life is beyond our control and out of our depth.  These are not motivating, inspiring feelings!  So what do you do if you find yourself feeling low and notice it impacting your healthy routines?

I try to start with some self-compassion.  My self-talk can be especially self-critical during these times, and it’s important for me to notice that and counteract it with less judgy thoughts: I’m doing the best I can; I’m just having a hard time right now.  These moments come and go and they don’t define who I am or how I live my entire life.  If I can remember this last point, that the feelings of low mood are just that, feelings, and by definition feelings are impermanent and changeable, it goes a long way to helping me feel ok with where I’m at in the moment.  It’s just this moment, not forever.

Related to this last point, I try to focus on what I am doing rather than what I’m not.  Most of us don’t throw in the towel on EVERY healthy behavior when we’re feeling down.  Still brushing your teeth and taking a shower?  Still eating breakfast and taking your medications?  Took some time to connect with your sweetie?  All these count and are good.  If you can talk yourself into taking a walk or doing 5 minutes of exercises, that’s great, too!  Give yourself credit for doing that much and know that tomorrow, you might feel up for more. There can also be an element of emotional inertia to these small behaviors, when I can find that doing one small thing for myself helps me feel more up to doing something else I know is good for me, too. 

Speaking of taking a walk, I have found that time outside is one of the most restorative things I can do for my mood.  I almost always feel better.  Sometimes, all I want is to sit on the porch or do a little gardening.  Even that much is a boost. Especially in winter, any moment of sunshine or even just a bright patch of clouds relative to the darker grey around them seems to help.  If your outdoor space doesn’t accommodate some gardening or lounging, or the weather is too miserable, try setting up in a sunnier window.  Put a comfy chair where your face will get hit with some light and take a moment to bask.

During moments of depression, it is especially important that we connect with others.  If you have a routine of exercising with others, even virtually, you may find that these connections help to lift your mood.  I’m very introverted and I don’t seek out a lot of time with others, but I still benefit from feelings of connection.  I try to spend more time playing or snuggling with my cats, to hang out with my husband, or to send notes to friends I haven’t heard from in a while.  Even exercising to a familiar old workout video can give me the illusion of company and help me feel better.  I also like to relisten to beloved audiobooks while I go on my walks or to put in the actors’ commentary for one of the Lord of the Rings movies to play in the background while I’m lifting!

Finally, I try to notice when my depression-related behaviors seem more unhelpful or counter to my long term goals and gently attempt to prevent them from becoming new habits.  I don’t expect myself to never soothe myself with food or to always go to bed right on time.  However, if I find that emotional eating has become more of a norm, or I’m fighting going to bed early enough night after night, then I try to gently redirect those behaviors.  I notice when I’m eating when I’m not hungry and consider if there’s something else that would feel good.  I notice that I’m staying up too late again and consider turning out the light 10 minutes earlier.  This isn’t time for drastic, life-changing transformations but gentle nudges back in the direction of my health and long term happiness.

Feeling crappy sucks. But, there are things we can do to help us move through it and make it slightly less awful.  We will come out the other side; we will feel better again.  I’m going to keep trying to give myself the time and space to be where I am now to know that it is not where I will be forever.  When I can, whatever exercising I can do will help to reduce the impacts of my depression and trauma, and may reduce the length of time that I experience those feelings.  If you can relate, I hope you can also give yourself the space to do what you can do today and be kind to yourself along the way!

Photo description: Woman sitting in a sunny windowsill reading a book. She is wearing a white tunic and boots. Photo credit: Thought Catalog IcU, via Unsplash.

Marjorie Hundtoft is a middle school science and health teacher.  She can be found getting a little sunlight in her eyes, picking up heavy things and putting them down again in Portland, Oregon.

fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions · self care

Go Team! January 26: Do you need to seek a challenge?

So far, I have been mostly reminding you that it is okay to take things slowly and to go easy on yourself. I stand by that 100%.

In my experience, most people take on waaaaaaay too much when they start a new goal and it can be frustrating and discouraging.

But, there’s a flip side to that, of course.

Sometimes, we pick a goal that we have a natural inclination for and, instead of overwhelming ourselves, we underwhelm ourselves.

We pick something that isn’t challenging.

Or something that bores us.

Or something that doesn’t push us at all.

That can be just as discouraging and it can have the same symptoms of dread and avoidance as taking on something too large.

So, if you have been reading my posts and thinking, ‘Encouragement is good but this isn’t *quite* the problem.’ consider the idea that you might not feel challenged by your plans.

Maybe you need to increase the time, the intensity or the difficulty of your workouts.

Maybe you need something that challenges different muscles.

Maybe you need to join a challenge group so you have a little friendly competition.

Try to dig into the reasons for your boredom/annoyance/avoidance and see what your brain comes up with.

You might have the perfect challenge tucked away in your brain somewhere waiting to be coaxed out.

Whether you are overwhelmed or underwhelmed, whether you have set your goals too high or set the bar too low, you get a gold star for your efforts to exercise, to meditate, to make change, to consider your process, to find good rest, or to find a new challenge.

Keep up the great work!

Image description : Three star shaped patio lights hang on a railing at night. The light of each one is shining through multiple star​-shaped holes on the sides of the larger star.
These stars contain multitudes…of star-shaped cutouts. Image description : Three star shaped patio lights hang on a railing at night. The light of each one is shining through multiple star-shaped holes on the sides of the larger star.

fitness · habits · motivation · new year's resolutions · self care

Go Team! January 25: You’re doing great!

Before you get annoyed and come back at me with all the reasons you are most certainly NOT doing great, give the idea of ‘doing great’ a few minutes to settle around you.

Think about it like this…

Ok, perhaps you haven’t followed your plan perfectly.

Maybe you haven’t worked as hard as you meant to.

And, you might not be where you hoped to be right now.

But you have been putting in an effort to make the changes you want to make.

It may not be working yet but you are exploring what *could* work. You are figuring out what mental, physical, and environmental conditions you require to add your intended habit.

So, you’re doing great.

I’m not measuring your results here, I am admiring your PROCESS.

Adding new things to a busy life is complicated and it requires a process of trial and error as you figure out what works.

Committing to that process is impressive.

It doesn’t matter that you haven’t figured it all out yet, you are on your way.

So, starting from the idea that you are doing great with your process so far…

What are you going to try next?

Here are your gold stars for your efforts, your exercise, your meditation, your consciously-chosen rest, your commitment to the process of figuring this out.

Image Description: A string of gold star-shaped lights extend into the distance. Some stars are in focus and some are not.​ the background is dark.
That’s a gold star for every different kind of effort you have put into your process. Go you! Image Description: A string of gold star-shaped lights extend into the distance. Some stars are in focus and some are not. the background is dark.
fitness · meditation · motivation · new year's resolutions · self care

Go Team! January 14: Multitask

Exercise is one of the few areas when we can actually multitask effectively.*

If you find it hard to fit exercise into your day, if it is a challenge to lure yourself into getting started, or if you find exercising a little dull, you might find it useful to multitask.

That might mean walking to complete some errands. (Or parking further from the store and then getting a burst of activity as you walk/run/gambol to the entrance.)

Or doing a few reps with each can as you put the groceries away.

You could use voice dictation to create a rough draft of something while you do some stretches.

Maybe the promise of listening to a podcast, a radio program, or a TV show would help you ease into starting your exercise routine.

Perhaps some exercise purists would say that your exercises will be less than perfect** if done while you are distracted, but who is trying to be perfect?

We’re building habits here, we’re not creating shrines to exercise.

This process is supposed to serve our needs and if listening to a podcast helps you get moving, then why *wouldn’t* you listen to it?

Today’s gold star is not only for your movement and self-care but for considering how multitasking might help you fit your wellness plans into your days.

A  person’s hand holding    a lit sparkler   that is generating star shaped sparks all around its top half. The background is blurred.
This sparkler is not a star, per se, but it’s star-like and definitely celebratory.

*Usually, multitasking is actually rapid task switching which our brains are not all that fond of, really.

**This might be the point where you say ‘But what about Yoga or meditation, Christine, I can’t multitask those.’ And I guess that’s true, in a way. Both of these things are about focusing in the moment.

However, yoga poses done while watching TV are better than not doing them at all. You won’t get all of the same benefits in front of the TV but you won’t get ANY benefits if you don’t do any yoga. And you can work up to the focused, on-the-may, type of yoga when you’re ready.

As for meditation: Again,you won’t get all of the same benefits if you sit quietly and breathe while listening to a podcast but you won’t get ANY benefits if you just avoid meditation entirely.

You could also try meditative doodling or painting if the idea of doing two things at once appeals to you but you can’t erase your mind around multitasking your meditation any other way.

fitness · health · planning · self care

Christine H says yes to Holidays but no to Holi-daze

For those of us who celebrate Christmas, or some Christmas-like event, or at least for those of us who end up on a different schedule between December 24 & January 1, we are currently at the time of year when the days all run together.

Routines are off kilter – meals happen at weird times, we’re eating a lot of different foods, and our sleep patterns have gone out the window.

This is when we lose all sense of time and end up in a holi-daze.

An especially dangerous thing for those of us on Team ADHD who have a tenuous grasp on the concept in the first place.

Two drawings of stick people. The one on the left is wearing a red santa hat and has the words '1st-26th Dec' above their head and the word 'Festive' as a caption below. The one on the right has a piece of cheese in their hand. The words '27th-31st Dec' above their head and the words 'Confused, Full of cheese, Unsure of the day of week.' as a caption below.
I’m more likely to be full of raisin cake than cheese but this is the feeling I mean! Image credit: Hurrah for Gin

In this odd year, that out-of-phase feeling has been recurring for most of us. The things that give shape to our year have been changed and time has been expanding and contracting around tasks/plans/activities as they mostly moved online.

I think, though, that having that out-of-phase feeling recur so often this year has made me realize (Re-realize? Possibly!) how important schedules are for my mental health.

In previous years, this week would find me with all kinds of lofty ideas about just letting the days progress in any old way, seeing what might appeal to me to do at any given time.

Text above the image reads 'Me, during that weird time between Christmas and New Years where I don't even know what day it is:'  and the image is of the free-spirited character of Phoebe from the TV show 'Friends.' She is wearing a striped onesie and drinking a pink drink through a long straw while she lies on the floor with her head on a pillow.  She is being asked 'Do you have a plan?' and she responds ' I don't even have a pla.' "
Phoebe, from the TV show ‘Friends’ might be able to get away with a lack of structure in her days but I cannot. Image source

I have encountered some fun days that way in the past but mostly, I end up feeling a bit scattered and let down by the end of the day.

Because, as much as the idea of spending a day drifting from task to task might have appeal, in reality, I know that I won’t drift pleasantly from task to task.

Instead, I’ll spend the whole day feeling vaguely dissatisfied and with a looming sense that I should be doing something else.

So, I create a plan for my week and then a shape for each day so my atemporal brain won’t leave me in the in-between with a feeling of frustrated sadness.

Making a loose plan for my week and then giving each day a shape makes me choose how I am going to spend my time. It helps me notice if I am trying to cram too many different things into the time that I have. And creating that shape lets me do important preparatory things like saving enough time to actually make the meals I plan to eat or to drive to the places I want to be.

And, yes, giving my days a shape does include a (fairly flexible) schedule and some rough time limits for my chosen activities.

I know to some this will sound like ‘Christine doesn’t know how to relax.’ but this approach is actually the key to my relaxation.

Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog, sleeps on a  blue flannel pillowcase decorated with frogs , crowns and hearts.
My dog, Khalee, does not need a schedule in order to relax. She apparently just needs to sleep on my pillow when I run downstairs for some pre-bed ginger tea.

For starters, these plans and shapes do not necessarily involve work. My plan for the week includes holiday activities, some special meals, and hanging out with people on Zoom. My shape for a given day might be to read a book for an hour after breakfast, to do some drawing for 45 minutes before lunch, and then to take a long walk at 3pm.

And having that plan, that schedule, is actually restful. It means that time won’t gallop away from me.

It means that I won’t spend the whole week figuring out when to do which activity. And I won’t spend each day continuously trying to decide if now is the ‘right’ time to read, to draw, or to head out for a walk.

And, having that plan, that shape, lets me make stress-free decisions when someone asks me if I want to do something else. If my plan is to go for a walk at 3, and someone asks me to watch a movie at 2, knowing the shape of my day means that I can more easily decide whether to change the time of my walk or to say no to the movie.*

If I know that I have enough time for the things that I really want to do, that I won’t run out of time, that I am doing what I am supposed to be doing at any given time, my brain will stop looping around ‘Now? How about now?’ and give me some ease.

And if that’s not a recipe for a holiday, I don’t know what is.

A small, green, holiday tree is sitting on a white shelf. It is decorated with gold star lights and has a gold star topper. Two points of a large cardboard star can be seen to the right side of the photo and part of a ukulele decorated with the image of a Polynesian-style statue can be seen to the right.
The gold stars on this tree celebrate my self-care efforts this holiday season.

*Perhaps, to the Neurotypical, this may look like overthinking, or as if I am making a big deal out of something simple, but for my ADHD brain, a holiday schedule is a relief. And, I thought that anyone who finds themselves in a holi-daze might borrow some of these ideas for themselves.

family · self care

Postpartum self-care stress, or how Bettina learned to take a chill pill and drink the breastfeeding tea

Cate’s crowdsourcing for her post on self-care in tough times (hello US election amid a global pandemic!) inspired me to think about my own recent experience with self-care. Admittedly, I’m in a special place regarding self-care at the moment, where it’s difficult to disentangle my self from that of another, 11 week-old human being.

In the FIFI blogger Facebook group, we were discussing how self-care is becoming not just commercialised, but also Another Thing Women Are Expected To Do. The discussion prompted me to write out a little rant. Here it is, slightly adapted for the purposes of this post. Because boy, are there expectations and (contradictory) opinions around self-care for new mothers, on top of all the expectations and (contradictory) opinions about motherhood and parenting in general.

A river under a clear blue autumnal sky: walking is self-care after Bettina’s own heart.

On top of “be there for your baby 24/7; put him on his tummy 30 minutes a day (never mind if he screams his head off); play with him and read/sing to him every day; feed him every 2-3 hours (that one’s not so much advice but a necessity of life), spend time doing skin-to-skin with baby, etc.”, it’s “drink this tea twice a day and this other one also twice a day (never mind that they taste horrible); also, drink 2-3 litres of water a day; sleep when the baby sleeps (LOL, considering he will pretty much only sleep on top of me during the day); don’t worry about the housework (but make sure everything is hygienic for the new human without an immune system); don’t worry about the paperwork and admin stuff (never mind that it has deadlines); do your pelvic floor exercises; and oh yeah don’t forget to take time for yourself.”

I’m not sure anyone’s day has the 48 hours it would take to do all of these things, but mine sure as hell does not. I really had to learn not to stress about it. Apparently all the pressure new mothers get about breastfeeding, parenting in general, getting back in shape, and so on isn’t enough. We need to stress them out about self-care as well. I know the advice is well-intentioned, but it can be really stressful at a time where your mind isn’t in a good place to be able set your own priorities and all you want is to make good choices for the tiny human you’re suddenly responsible for. It definitely took me several weeks to figure out that “sleep when the baby sleeps” is not for me except at night, and that I’ll do fine if I just drink one or two cups of breastfeeding tea a day (or on some days, none).

And I say this as a woman of many privileges: my partner was home with me for the first two months, so he could take care of the household and many other things, including his share of baby care duties. I have a generous leave policy that allows me to stay home with baby for several months. Our healthcare system is – compared to many others – excellent at postpartum care, free midwife visits, postpartum gymnastics and other perks included. I can’t even begin to imagine what it must be like for a person with fewer privileges to be confronted with all the expectations and pressure around self-care on top of everything else that being a new mother entails.

self care

It’s World Kindness Day and Christine H is HERE for it.

November 13th is World Kindness Day and I jumped at the chance to post about it. 

I think our world could use a lot more kindness

We could be kinder to ourselves, to each other, to our communities and to the environment. 

However, while the readers of this blog might enjoy some ideas for specific ways to be kind to others, I suspect that many of us need the reminder to be kind to ourselves.

Image has multicoloured text that reads 'The world is full of kind people. If you can't find one, be one. World Kindness Day 2020. The 'O' in world is replaced with an image of a planet Earth surrounded  by a circle of gold hearts.
I contend that starting with self-kindness equips you to be a kinder person overall.
That’s not the only reason to be kind to yourself but it might be extra encouragement to try it.
Image from https://inspirekindness.com/world-kindness-day

In my coaching practice, I spend a lot of time talking to people about how to be kinder to themselves. When they object (and they often do), thinking that to be kinder to themselves is being selfish or letting themselves ‘off the hook’, I like to borrow this quote to make my point.

“It is moral to treat people with decency, respect, compassion and kindness, Well, “people” includes you! You have as many rights, and your opinions and needs and dreams have as much standing, as those of anyone else in the world.”

from Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Rick Hanson, PhD.

I’m not a philosopher so I’m not equipped to take on a debate about whether Hanson is right about the morality. I am, however, an advocate for kindness in all forms and that quote resonates with me. 

It is good, and it is good for you, to be kind, especially when you are being kind to yourself. 

This isn’t about ‘letting yourself off the hook,’ it’s about being compassionate about your circumstances, your capacity, and your needs. 

It isn’t about being selfish. It is not selfish to recognize that you need and deserve care just as much as anyone else. 

So, what does this have to do with Feminist fitness?

Everything.

Being kind to yourself includes taking good care of your mind and your body, in whatever way makes the most sense to you.

For some people, that means taking a long run.

For others, it’s spending time on the yoga mat.

For you, today, being kind to yourself might mean meditation or journaling, it might mean rest or creative relaxation, or it might mean pushing yourself to work out (or work harder) even though you don’t particularly feel like it.

Being kind to yourself (and to others, in fact) is not about finding an easy way out. It’s about being compassionate and it’s about serving a need. 

So, on World Kindness Day, I invite you to consider what you really need from yourself today and do what you can to meet that need.

I understand that your time may not be your own. You may not have the ideal resources at your disposal. But, I hope that you can find at least one small way to meet your own needs today.

PS – Self-kindness is especially important if you are currently coping with Covid-related restrictions or isolations. Be very compassionate with yourself, do what you can to help yourself through this with as much ease as possible.

Against an orange background, the words 'Be The Change' are written in white above an image of Earth surrounded by gold hearts. The words 'World Kindness Day 2020; are in the bottom right corner and the O in the word world has been replaced by an image of Earth surrounded by gold hearts.
You can start by changing how you treat yourself and work outwards from there. image from: https://inspirekindness.com/world-kindness-day

I’ve got lots of back-up on the benefits of self-kindness, by the way:

Using the Practice of Self-Kindness to Cope With Stress

12 Surprisingly Powerful Health Benefits of Being Nicer to Yourself

21 Simple Reasons to Be Kind to Yourself

Being kind to yourself has mental and physical benefits

The Five Myths of Self-Compassion

A complementary approach: Being Kind to Others Is Being Kind to Yourself

More from that angle: Just One Thing: Be Kind to Yourself by Being Kind to Others

fitness · self care

Six activities to do on election day: the obscure version

It’s here. Finally. Election Day 2020 in the USA. Maybe it should be a relief, after all the wildly expensive and exhausting weeks and months of the campaign. But really, I think most people are feeling like this:

The Scream, by Edvard Munch. Overused, but on occasions such as these, there’s no school like the old school.

But there’s a limit to how much screaming we can do, and for how long. And of course, there are the neighbors to think about.

Two people peering over a fence in their backyard.

So what’s a sentient being to do today, given that it’s going to be awhile before we can know what’s next (awhile meaning hours/days/weeks until the election result is in the books)? There are loads and loads of articles out there, offering media distractions, social media blockade plans, self-care options, volunteering opportunities, etc., to keep us all from running around in circles, keening loudly (remember the neighbors…)

Here’s a list of activities that a) pass the time; b) might be engrossing, if not actually fun; and c) don’t involve being online. For what it’s worth, I’m trying out some of them this week. Will report back with my impressions and reviews.

One: Create your own parkour course in your house, and play around with all kinds of movement– lifting legs to get over things, squatting to get under things (broom limbo, anyone?), twisting to reach spots on the floor or touch ones on the wall, walking or crawling sideways– you get the idea. Honestly, I’m going to do this. I went to one parkour course and found it challenging, engrossing, informative (about what my body likes and doesn’t like to do) and fun. For now, I think the DIY approach will do me.

Here’s a picture from one of those online courses that we need never sign up for, as we can just do what I suggested instead, for free.

Woman stepping over yoga blocks, about to encounter a pumpkin.

Two: self-directed walking meditation. Wait a minute– didn’t I say I would come up with activities you hadn’t already read about? Aren’t there loads of articles suggesting walking meditation?

Well, yes, there are. But: I’m suggesting walking without touching the phone (or leaving it behind if that works for you), and setting yourself a task. It could be: noting or counting every blue house (color choice up to you), noting or counting every dog you see, every child you see. Or, walking in a different direction than usual, alternating right and left turns. Or going in a straight line as much as possible. You can set a timer on your phone if you like to tell you when to turn around. Or you can turn around when you like. This is not so much walking meditation as meandering. It can be for 5 minutes each way– the amount of time doesn’t matter.

Three: do a DIY at-home exercise space or equipment project. Just ’cause. Here’s one I saw that looked appealing (for someone else to do): make a cover for your exercise ball. Here’s what a covered exercise ball looks like:

Blue-and-green-block-design cover for an exercise ball. Stunning…

If you need instructions, you’re allowed to consult the internet. Here’s one site that discussed it in detail.

This project is well beyond my skill and patience level, but looks awesome:

An adult-sized indoor seesaw made from pipes. I want one (in theory).

Four: spend 30 minutes, an hour, an evening, the rest of the week, doing a course to learn another language (or brush up on one you studied). This would come in handy for last-minute immigration plans, but is in general stimulating and edifying, even if you’re planning on staying in your home country. I’ve wasted, uh, whiled away some otherwise-idle time with Duolingo, a free app and website. It’s my sort-of-intention to freshen up my college French this winter. Depending on how long the vote counts take, maybe I’ll start earlier than expected.

Colorful array of thank yous in various languages.

Five: fix something. Maybe it’s a hem of that pair of pants you’ve been avoiding because, well, it needs hemming. Maybe it’s a leaky faucet (fixing this for me means calling the plumber, but that counts, too). Some of my plants desperately need repotting, so there’s that. My fancy coffee machine needs special cleaning from time to time, too. We can all easily generate a list of a dozen such things to do. Maybe do one of them. And keep going until you lose interest, finish, or have to do something else.

Six: Rest. Nap, doze, drop off, head to bed early, stay in bed late, burrow in, and enjoy some slumber. Lots of us have been staying up late, waking up in the middle of the night, picking up our phones and scrolling through, looking for resolution, respite, or revolution. Maybe some or all of those will come. But we’re going to need our rest to deal with whatever comes. Including hauling those pipes to make that seesaw.

Rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy.– The Nap Ministry

I’ll leave you with another look at the wordcloud of what one of my classes is doing today. What are you doing today? Do any of these activities seem appealing? Are you thinking about making the seesaw? Please let us know.

Wordcloud from my Contemporary Moral Problems course.