Five Ways to Relax During Quarantine

Five Ways to Relax During Quarantine

I thought a good blog post this week would be on how to unwind—not just during our current era of quarantine and “social distancing,” but on any day off. What my wife calls a holiday. That could be any time, right?

I’ve been running so hard lately, I’ve barely had anything like a day off for months. But I recognize how serious of a situation we’re in here, and even wrote about it recently in my Self-Care for Creatives post. Some of those same self-care recommendations are duplicated below, but hey—you can never hear these too many times.

  1. Exercise – If you’re not athletic at all, it might sound counterintuitive to you when I say, Exercise to unwind. But scientists and artistic types both agree that sufficient exercise is critical to long-term health. That means using exercise for stress reduction. I walked up and down my stairs for a good half hour today, so there you go.
  2. Meditate – I started meditating way before I knew David Lynch had been promoting it for years. I try to do at least 15 minutes of silent meditation every night before bed. (Well, I play the sounds of the ocean, which helps me tune out my tinnitus.) Now, that’s not a huge time commitment, but the benefits are tremendous.
  3. Eat right – I know, I sound like your mother, right? Well, I am a vegetarian, but I also love sweets. So I’m not saying you have to be a total health nut. But if you eat lots of healthy foods, and not much that’s bad for you, your stress levels can go down naturally—especially when you combine eating right with exercise, sufficient hydration, etc.
  4. Reading for pleasure – It’s amazing to me how many times I speak with a fellow entrepreneur and find out he or she never reads for pleasure. Business folks read business books, stock market news, blah blah blah…but nothing for fun. Of course, as a writer and one-time English major, I find this almost inexplicable. But I also do recommend things to them—including fiction. My own novels can be found here.
  5. Everything else – So a list of five will hardly be all-inclusive. Thus I thought I’d best save the kitchen sink category for last. Whatever you love to do for recreation—movies, crossword puzzles, listening to music—give yourself time for some of that on your holiday, and during this coronavirus era, too. I don’t mean just “official” holidays, either. I mean those Sundays coming up that you usually reserve for laundry and cleaning. Take a week off. Nobody cares if your floor is a little dirty. Seriously.

What about you? What are your favorite stress busters? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Breaking Into the Top 100

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Self-Care for Creatives

Self-Care for Creatives

Today’s post is not about coronavirus, becauselet’s face itaren’t we all sick of being bombarded with news and info about it all day, every day? The situation is getting worse, and will be for a while before it gets better. Duly noted.

However, I do want to give people something in this crisis time, so I’m writing today about self-care for people working from home…especially my fellow creative types.

I started fighting a sinus infection around February 24th and was sick for a solid month. My wife was in bed for six days with the regular old flu. And I have an aging parent in assisted living who needs some assistance from me, so there’s that. In other words, if there was ever such a thing as a “good” time for us to be dealing with a pandemic, this wasn’t it.

Thus far, we’re doing okay. Whether you call it social distancing or self-quarantining, we’re practicing all of it now. With that, may I present five things you can do to take good care of yourself and make sure you’re okay too. 

1) Exercise – This is a bit of a no-brainer, but may sound counter-intuitive. How am I supposed to exercise if I’m stuck indoors, Mike? But actually, I’m suggesting something easy and simple, like a walk around the block, not going to the gym. Go outside, look at some trees, enjoy nature, and move your body. Too much sitting and lying around is bad for the body and the brain.

2) Meditate – I’m a big proponent of meditation, and if your idea of exercise is yoga, you might not want to meditate on top of that. Yoga is not only exercise but also very meditative, so that’s cool. If you do regular non-yoga stuff for exercise, though, I highly suggest taking some time during the day to sit and quietly meditate. Meditation is an amazing stress-reducer, and can also help immensely with creativity. David Lynch is a huge fan of meditation. Check out his comments on it.

3) Get the proper amount of sleep – Notice I didn’t just list “sleep” as an item. You want to get enough sleep, but don’t sleep all day. Too much of a good thing, and it can make you feel sluggish for a long while. I’m a good seven- to eight-hour guy, and it shows if I don’t get enough for multiple days in a row. Bonus feature of regular meditation and exercise: both tend to help improve sleep quality.

4) Eat right – This is a biggie for me, because I’m a vegetarian and a bit of a health nut…but I also love sweets and junk food, so the first things I wanted to stock up on this month were ice cream, cookies, chips, and salsa! I always have foods like garlic and ginger high on my priority list, though, so I can balance things well. It’s okay if I have dessert or a little junk food snack, if that’s balanced out with fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and so on. Like the points above, eating right tends to benefit sleep and make it easier to exercise, maintain enough energy, and feel okay overall.

5) Practice healthy self-talk – And finally, speaking of feeling okay, most of us are not feeling 100% right now, are we? Heck, I found myself on Twitter talking to someone who was contemplating suicide last night! It’s a tough time for almost everyone, I think, so it may be easy to get into negative thinking and unhealthy self-talk. Maybe not I’m no good level stuff, but This sucks, When will it ever end, and on and on. 

Give yourself some positive messages every day, check on friends and relatives, and remember, if you don’t take care of yourself first, you won’t be able to do much for anyone else!

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Lovers In A Dangerous Time

This past weekend, I did what a lot of us are doing nowadaysfrittered some time away on Facebook. I’m doing one of those “post the cover of an album you love” every day for a week or whatever, and Sunday’s pick was Bruce Cockburn’s Stealing Fire, which featured the single “Lovers In A Dangerous Time.” Seems appropriate for these times, too, doesn’t it?

The reason I was still thinking about it today, though, wasn’t so much my long attachment to the music. It was more my feelings about my fabulous wife Sunny (pictured above with Goofy in the days before social distancing).

Sunny and I have been married since 2014, and we have a lot of laughs together, in addition to having a blessedly low-stress, loving relationship. She’s from Thailand originally, so she’s bilingual, English being her second language.

 

Tonal Vs. Atonal

Thai is what they call a tonal language, which to me means there are certain words that the typical Westerner finds borderline unpronounceable. By contrast, English is kind of atonal, and Sunny speaks it with a charmingly Thai accent that, at times, sounds like she learned a word from a British speaker.

Although Sunny’s language skills are excellent, there are certain words in English that contain sound combinations that don’t exist in Thai. Thus a simple word like van or cure may provide much bigger challenges than seemingly more complex words like absolutely (one of Sunny’s favorites, by the way).

 

Getting Your Laughs Where You Find Them

My experience with Thai people is that many of them are almost unbelievably good-natured, and that’s certainly the case with my wife. So if she struggles with a word, and I laugh, she doesn’t get angry—she laughs at herself.

Of course, I’m not laughing at her, exactly. It’s more like I’m laughing at something that’s both funny and cute. Here’s yesterday’s example, as she attempted to discuss the hope for a “cure” for COVID-19.

Her: Queer.

Me: [Dying] No, no. Queer is like [terribly stereotypical imitation of a flamboyant gay guy, which I can only get away with because both of us are friends to the LGBTQ community.] Cure.

Her: Crew.

Me: [Dying more] No. No. You can say cute, right? It’s like cuter without the T.

Her: Cuter.

Me: Yeah. Now, again: cure.

Her: Cue.

There was no doubt another one in there somewhere, but I was laughing so hard, I could have had an aneurysm.

Ultimately, we settled on treatment as the best synonym, since a drug or medication might not provide an actual remedy.

I know these are dark daysa dangerous time, indeedbut I’m incredibly grateful to have a wife with both a fantastic sense of humor and a ton of patience. I hope all of you out there have great people in your lives, too, whether romantic partners, family, friends, or all of the above. Stay safe, everyone!

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