Keeping the Boat Afloat: Three Practical Rules for Sanity

I am a person who enjoys pretending that I am not, in fact, a human, but some kind of Herculean Alien from a planet where multitasking is actually possible and the days exist in 43 hour segments. I am sure many of you can relate to this, especially with the piles upon piles of exams to study for, social lives to maintain and the care of the poor little martyr we call Sleep.

Essentially, we are in the same U.S.S Life steamboat, friends, and some days it feels like it takes all of our strength just to bail out the water.

With this in mind, I would like to share with you a few rules that I live by in order to prevent the capsize. I say rules, as opposed to guidelines because I really do mean rules. I believe that we all need a little self-inflicted structure in our lives in order to keep track of ourselves, so these are rules that I follow every day whether I’m feeling the mood or not.

1. Make the Bed
This might seem trivial, but the first thing I do every morning after I swagger out of the beautiful enticement of my Calypso-covers is pull my duvet taunt and re-stack the pillows. This is a mental game. My room could be a disaster– there could be piles of laundry strewn across the carpet, or orange peels scattered haphazardly, or The Great Wall of Dishes littering the sink– but if I can make the bed, then no task is too small. (Plus the fact that it isn’t cluttered with bundled up covers, I can move the laundry from the floor onto the bed, and therefore free up the floor).

So making the bed every morning helps set the tone for the day. Furthermore, when one’s environment is clean and tidy (relative to one’s own standards, no worries) one’s mind is free to be clean and tidy.

2. Move Every Day
In some way, whether it be a good early morning run, a bike ride, a stroll around the campus, a session of either Group Fitness yoga or YouTube Yoga (I recommend Yoga with Adrienne), I move. Every day. I would love to make it every hour but those 90 minute classes–what can you do, you know? Movement is so… beautiful. There is no other way for me to describe how I feel about it. One of my favorite parts of my day is the first movement. After my swagger from the covers and my taunten-ing of the duvet, I set the kettle to boil the precious water that will seep into the industrious grinds of my dark roast coffee. While I wait for the water to boil, I lay on the thick carpet and move around. I wish that I could say it was graceful, or that the image of my first movement for the day is somehow what makes it beautiful. I go through some cat-cow combinations to loosen up my back, and swivel my hips around and open up my shoulders. Then I flow from upward-facing dog, to child’s pose and hit up some hamstring stretching. While this all sounds relatively structured and potentially organized, it’s mostly me flopping clumsily and unpredictably through these movements in a way that would make any yogi convert to a corporate career. But despite what it looks like, I can’t express how good it feels to move. I find that the days when I am confined to a chair are the days when I am the least happy. My body wants to move, it yearns to move. It’s like an ADHD child whining, “Mommy, mommy! Let’s go swimming! Watch me run!” over and over again in my ear. It tends to happen that when we treat our body to what it wants, it treats us back to an influx of endorphins and other pleasant neurotransmitters.

Again, this serves to just slow the sinking of the U.S.S Life that much further and maintain a little sanity.

3. Puzzle All Day Every Day
I love puzzles. Oh gosh, the satisfaction of the little pieces snapping together and creating something beautiful… After classes get out, the last thing I want to do is plow into my homework. I’m tired from having my mind opened for so long, and overwhelmed by the information that I need to transcribe into homework and studying. My instincts are to pull up some Lost while I dip carrots in crunchy peanut butter, or take a good half-hour power nap before hitting the books. But here is the dilemma: I just spent so long opening up my mind with classes and learning, that when I settle into some Netflix or collapse into a Power Nap, my mind closes right back up. And then I have to spend an enormously inefficient amount of time re-opening my mind in order to do homework.

That’s where puzzles come in!

My rule is that my stress relief from classes comes from doing puzzles. Yes, oftentimes I have Lorelei Gilmore’s quirky narrative voice from Gilmore Girls playing on the side, or I’ll have Nina Simone whispering sweet jazz-nothings into my ears. But mainly, I’m doing a puzzle. I’m figuring out which pieces go where, and using my pre-opened mind to search for it. When I am doing a puzzle, I am using my mind in such a way that is keeping it open. But, at the same time, I’m not doing learning which is really the thing that I needed a break from anyway. In some ways, perhaps, searching for the puzzle pieces is fine tuning my brain and preparing me better to do homework. And with the Netflix or the heavenly Ed Sheeran playing in the background, I am still afforded what instincts desired.

By no means am I suggesting that if you don’t immediately implement these three rules into your life, inevitably your feeble attempts to maintain homeostasis will capsize. I mean, you are welcome to take these suggestions and apply them to your own reservoir of rules. I am merely encouraging you to bring intentionality to your life, especially if you do find yourself feeling overwhelmed.

If you have a few of your own rules that work really well for you, please comment and share them! I believe that humanity was intended for co-existance and that we should share constantly what makes us experience happiness and a sense of security.

As always,
Peace and Blessings

Josie


 

“Impact is never about knowing all the steps ahead, but about taking one intentional step after the other.”
~ Bidemi Mark-Mordi

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4 thoughts on “Keeping the Boat Afloat: Three Practical Rules for Sanity

    • Jig-saw puzzles primarily! Although I do love the USA Today crosswords. But with jigsaws, I trick myself into believing that I’m not exerting intellectual effort. You?

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  1. One thing I find beneficial for me is the intentional use of mental and emotional resets! Like naps! Sleeping between the end of my work day and my first class doesn’t usually have an immediate improvement on my mood, but the difference later in the day is pretty significant! For example, I was pretty irritated with an instance of inefficient human resource management, and I was pretty determined to whine about it, when normally I’m pretty content with just going to class without much thought about the night before. If I don’t have time for a nap, I use other methods to obtain an emotional or mental reset. Like I’ll go watch YouTube or a funny episode of something, or maybe I just chill out to some music, or chatter on the internet!

    I find this to be not only useful to use between work and class, but also a useful way to defuse tensions. So like, if something has stressed me out, or someone is trying to argue with me, I like to back off and regain some positive emotional space! It helps bring me back to a calm state of mind, and helps arguments wind down faster! And helps other people find some space and calm down, as well!

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  2. Oh! And budgeting, haha! My budgeting habits will likely be my only claim to fame when I pass away! Keeping track of my finances is a great way to keep me on track, keep me mindful of my spending habits, and offers me security of mind!

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