For those of us who celebrate Christmas, it’s going to be tricky to find a little space during these next three days.
And for those of us who don’t, you will still be facing similar challenges as you try to maintain space for yourself amidst the commitments, activities, and obligations of a full life.
The pressures might be different in each case but the results are the same – very little room to take good care of yourself.
I hope that you can figure out a way to make a little space today. Maybe with these videos, maybe with something else.
I know that I often feel like I don’t have five minutes to spare but later in the day I will realize how often I checked my phone or scrolled through social media posts.
Hanging out on social media isn’t a bad thing, as long as it feels like a real break and you feel like you are connecting with the people whose posts you see. But, I often find that when I feel ‘too busy’ to do a short exercise video or ‘too agitated’ to meditation, I’ll hop on social media to get a break and it won’t feel good. It will add to my feeling of busy-ness, it will amplify my agitation.
In those cases, social media feels like an easy way to take a moment for myself but it’s not really taking a break, it’s just kind of checking out. It would be better for me to take just a minute and breathe deeply or to do a few neck stretches and then make a decision about how to proceed through the rest of my list, rather than numbly scrolling through Facebook and losing track of time.
Now, I am speaking from my own experience, I am not criticizing you and I am not condemning social media. Social media is a great tool in many ways. And you know yourself best, you can tell if you are taking a break or just checking out. And I hope you can do things in the way that serves you best.
If you have decided that movement or meditation would be good for you right now, here are your videos for today.
Remember, you can do just part of them if that makes sense for you. Please be kind to yourself about this and about everything else. (Your gold star is below the videos.)
I really enjoyed this back stretch routine. It’s straightforward and clear and made my back feel quite relaxed.
And here’s our meditation. This one felt really short to me today, I hope that’s a good sign for my subconscious state of mind.
Whether you try these videos, do your own making space thing, or just take a view deep breaths while you drive, you type, or you cook, I hope you have a little room for yourself today.
Earlier, I thought I was feeling fairly relaxed. My day isn’t particularly busy and my writing is going well. I have been able to set my own schedule and things are good overall.
I went to YouTube found the meditation video for this post and pressed play.
As I breathed through it (this one has a visual to breathe with, I love that!) I found myself anxiously looking at the time bar at the bottom wondering why it was taking so long to do a 5-minute practice. I realized that my mind was hopping over to my writing. And I found that my shoulders were braced like I had to ‘push through’ the practice.
Hmmmm, interesting, hey?
I wasn’t hard on myself about it. I tried to just notice and keep coming back to my breath – I did ok with that.
I kept breathing. Time kept crawling.
And then I started to feel my shoulders and neck relax. I hadn’t even noticed that my neck was tight until it released.
And my breathing got even slower and I started to feel even more calm.
So, I guess I especially needed this video today.
If you are in this metaphorical boat with me, I hope the video helps you, too.
Breathing is a fundamental way to make space for ourselves, especially in our own brains, but it is not the only way.
A little movement helps, too, and this ‘office break’ video was exactly what I needed today. I particularly liked the shoulder move where you are reaching forward and then pressing back.
If you aren’t feeling up to doing this whole video, you could try watching it until you see a movement that feels doable and just do that one. Consider the video a menu instead of a to-do list.
I hope you find whatever space you can in your day today, whether it is through these videos or by pushing the clean laundry aside on the couch so you have room to sit with a crossword puzzle and some tea.
Here’s your star for your efforts: ⭐️
And if you have been reading these posts and thinking ‘That star isn’t for me, I haven’t done anything at all!’ Here’s an extra one for you: ⭐️ Our lives are complex and parts of them are really hard, let’s be kind to ourselves and accept those gold stars. Your efforts matter.
Even if the results are not what you hoped, your hard work counts.
About six weeks ago, I started using this new app for building habits and routines and as a result I have been moving and stretching for at least 8 minutes as soon as I get up each day.
(The app is called Fabulous and I love how it helps me structure my day but I’ll do a proper post about the app another time.)
When I started, I thought I would pick a video or routine to follow and just keep going with that. Usually, I do better with making those sorts of decision in advance because sometimes my ADHD brain sees even the smallest decision as an enormous obstacle.
However, that’s not how things worked out. Sometimes I have done a video, sometimes I have done yoga, and sometimes I have taken Khalee for an extra walk. Mostly through, I have started each session by asking myself a question:
How do I need to move today?
And then I move the way my body tells me to.
I have filled the eight minutes with shoulder and neck exercises. I’ve done squats and lunges. I’ve stretched my back. I’ve moved my feet in all kinds of circles and up and down motions. I’ve done cardio, I’ve danced. I’ve done everything except make a plan.
Each day is different and I’m throughly enjoying this responsive process – I have never been able to pull anything like this off before.
I’ve tried just going with the flow in the moment lots of times but I would either get tangled in the decisions or I would find the idea of the decisions so (subconsciously) off-putting that I would find myself avoiding the whole thing.
As I said above, in order to have any hope of sticking with something I usually have to decide in advance. This time, though, I am feeling a new freedom in setting my timer and then just responding.
I don’t know *why* I am now able to relax and just move mindfully for those few minutes but I love it – it’s great for my body and for my mind – and I hope it continues.
Would you have to plan your movements in advance? Or do you already have my newly-found skill of listening to your body?
Saturdays tend to be especially hectic this time of year so that’s all the more reason to carve out a little space for yourself when you can.
And since it can be so easy to put ourselves last when things are busy, I want to offer this reminder: You matter. Your peace of mind matters. Your comfort matters. And you have the right to feel good. You deserve space in your own life.
And here’s a gold star to celebrate your efforts to make/find that space however you can, in the way that suits you best. ⭐️
Here’s Doctor Jo (yes, again! I really love her videos) with some relaxing stretches. If you do yoga you will be familiar with them but I really like how she frames and explains them in this video. Also, her dog Remy is in this one with her.
And this beginner’s meditation was really lovely – simple instructions and encouragement. No dogs though.
Since my post yesterday was inviting you to make some space for yourself this month, I’ve decided to help you out with that by offering a short movement video and short meditation video each afternoon in December.
I figure that if you don’t have to search for and choose a video, it might make it easier to fit it into your day. And if you subscribe to the blog, it will even show up in your email!
You don’t *have* to do these every day, of course, (I’m bossy but I’m not actually the boss of you) but I’ll bet it will feel pretty good if you do.
Please adjust to your own schedule and abilities, of course, I don’t want anyone to get hurt!
First up, since I seem to hoard my tension in my shoulders and I assume other people do, too, here’s Doctor Jo with some shoulder stretches.
And as for meditation, let’s give this one a whirl…ahem, let’s give this one a sit.
Please remember that you don’t have to automatically be able to sit quietly with your breath, that’s a skill that comes with practice. And that practice involves trying to meditate, noticing that your attention has wandered, and then returning to the focus on your breath. Returning over and over is PART of the initial process, it’s not a failure or a mistake.
Feel free to check in to let me know that you did one of these videos, or any other movement or mindfulness practice, and I’ll respond with a gold star for your efforts.
And whether you do these videos or not, please be kind to yourself today. 🌟
It’s all been helping a bit and I can definitely feel the progress but it has been slow, slow, slow.
And it doesn’t help that my brain keeps telling me that the slow progress is because I am not working hard enough at my stretches. That may or may not be true (it’s hard to tell) but my brain doesn’t have to be a jerk about it.
In my first post about this, I mentioned getting on my own nerves by having to learn the same lesson over and over again and I am finding myself at that same annoying spot of relearning something I already know.
So, I have been been pretty consistent with my stretches and with rolling the ball under my foot. I was trusting in the process even as I was watching the clock. (Gold star for me – )
But in my frustration with my slow progress, I forgot that there are many different exercises that will accomplish the same thing. So, since my progress was slow, it might be time to think about the problem in a different way.*
Since the ball rolling didn’t seem to be loosening my feet very much and I couldn’t stand to press any harder, maybe I needed to stretch my feet just as much as I needed to stretch my calves.
So, I did a quick search and found this marvelous video from Yoga with Cassandra. Not only are the stretches good but the video is short – a definite bonus in my books.
I’ve done the stretches in this video every day for a week now and the difference in my heels is astounding.
I think that the ball rolling was even less effective (for me) than I had realized and these stretches mean that I am finally addressing the whole issue instead of just a part of it.
I am finally seeing measurable progress and I am so relieved.
PS – I’m really tempted to make a list of ‘Lessons I’ve Already Learned’ so I can give them a quick read every so often to see if any of them apply to any current circumstances.
*It’s funny that divergent thinking is one of the creative strengths of the ADHD brain…but I forgot to use that tool for this issue!
Well, I have (mostly) learned my lesson (for now) about changing anything hat make me dread exercising and I have been working on a variety of stretches to help my calves and, hence, my heels.
But, it turns out that the best (i.e. most helpful) thing is to hold a calf stretch for two minutes on each side a couple of times a day.
I can feel the difference it makes AND it is way better than trying to remember to do multiple exercises multiple times every day.
(You knew this was coming, didn’t you?)
I hate it.
And it hurts.
But, I don’t hate it so much that I won’t do it and it doesn’t hurt so much that I can’t do it but it is so unpleasant that I can’t even distract myself with reading or watching videos.
I just end up watching the timer click along and wishing I could time travel to a not-too-distant future where my stretches were already done.
Meanwhile, though, I’m proud of myself for sticking with it. After all, it has all the hallmarks of something that my brain would shuffle out of my daily schedule – it’s dull, it’s uncomfortable, and the results are definitely not instant.
Yet, I have been pretty consistent. I haven’t missed any days and most days I have done the stretch twice. (Yes, I have also done other stretches too but I haven’t been quite as consistent with those.)
I’m not sure what has made me able to stick with this particular hated exercises but I guess the fact that I can feel a difference – even if it is not instant – keeps me returning to the stretch.
Now, if I could only get to the point where things have improved enough to reduce the pain while I stretch.
At least that way I could concentrate to read or watch a favourite show while doing the exercise.
I’m really bored with watching the timer show – I already know the ending and the plot just drags along.
I was at my chiropractor last week about a problem I’m having with my heels.
I already had a working theory that my sore heels were a result of overly tight calves (I was half right) so I had been doing all kinds of different calf stretches to try and find some relief.
One of the most useful sets of stretches I found was in this short yoga video.
Her exercises helped my calves…and my heels, at least temporarily, but there was one problem.
I really hate that ‘front fold with your fingers tucked under your toes’ stretch.
I mean, I HATE IT.
I know, I know! Why don’t I tell you how I really feel.
Let’s see if this helps clarify things:
I forced myself to do it though because the rest of the video was so helpful (I was wary of the bouncing but I didn’t hate it) but I found myself dreading it and putting it off, and even the promised relief for my heels didn’t help.
So, anyway, I’m mentioning all of this to Ken, my chiropractor (and my cousin!) and he, clever soul that he is, sensibly said ‘You won’t stick with a stretch you hate, do something else instead.’
How many times do I have to learn this lesson?
How often will I have to be reminded that the best exercise is the one I’ll do?
Why can’t I remember that hating an exercise can be a good reason not to do it?
Now, I get that sometimes there are exercises that must be done in order to heal specific things and how much you hate it may not be a factor in that case.
But, for me, it keeps happening for exercises that can easily be switched out for something else.
I need to start letting ‘I hate it!’ be a signal to find an equivalent exercises that I like instead of a signal to dig in my heels and (try to) force myself to keep doing something that feels awful.
(Besides, digging in my heels is definitely not going to help right now. 😉 )
Do you have exercise lessons that you have to learn again and again?