Sunday, March 21, 2010

16 things that keep me sane

After struggling for months on how to get started blogging, I was inspired by my friend Camilo Olea, who posted a great article on maintaining a sense of well-being, entitled, "30 habits that will change your life." As I read the post, I realized that, although it made some really great points, it was indeed a personal list. It got me thinking about the various "lists" out there: 10 steps to losing weight, 15 ways to stay organized, etc., and it became clear to me that all of these lists are written from a personal point of view. I had never really thought about it like that before. Although some of the points made on lists are common sense and apply to large groups of people, many points are personal. How interesting that we all find various paths to well-being, and what helps to make you sane may cause me stress! My friend Camilo lives in Cancun (and is doing some great things in the areas of social media and promoting Mexican tourism) and I live in Toronto - only a four-hour plane ride away, but world's away in terms of culture, weather, language, experience. I'm not sure of the whereabouts of the author of the post, but I'm sure there are differences there as well. I was inspired to write my own list of things that contribute to my sense of well-being and I wondered if, in the end, my list would in fact be so different from the list Camilo posted.. Here is the list of 16 things that keep me sane:

  1. Creating my art.
    Admittedly, I "borrowed" this one from Seth Godin. I was fortunate to hear him speak in Toronto a few weeks ago at a social media conference, and the one statement that stood out for me was "start creating your art." Whatever your art is, be it writing, organizing, painting, connecting people or flying an airplane.. whatever it is that stirs up excitement within you, start doing that. That is why you are here, that is your unique contribution. Creatively speaking, I make soap and have started painting furniture. I tried a silkscreening class and I've immersed myself in anything social media-related. I have been thinking about embellishing clothing and now I'm writing a blog! We are all given 24 hours each day, to spend however we wish. Make time to start creating your art.

  2. Smiling more.
    While hanging with a friend in Playa del Carmen last year, I observed the power of the smile. My friend is just one of those people who smiles at everyone.. the store clerk, the waiter - pretty much everyone she meets. I noticed not only her smile, but the reactions from people she came into contact with - they smiled back, seemed to instantly relax and were friendly back. I have tried incorporating this into my everyday life, and have found that people smile back and it actually makes me feel pretty good. It's hard to be sad or angry if you're smiling!

  3. Exercising regularly.
    At the moment there are three activities I enjoy - running, yoga and kayaking. Find a few activities you enjoy and participate a few times each week - it's an excellent way to maintain your sense of well-being.
    I aim to run at least twice a week. Running is definitely something that helps keep me sane. I am an amateur runner, but it doesn't matter. The rush from running for at least 30 minutes is wonderful, as it clears my mind, lifts any stress my body may be holding on to, and it's usually the time when I get my great ideas.
    I aim to do one or two yoga classes a week. Again, a personal step to saneness for me. Don't you find that we usually gravitate towards physical activities we are naturally good at? Well, yoga is not one of those for me, but that is why I do it. It stretches me - both literally and figuratively. It helps me to calm my mind and focus on my breath. After months of practicing, the muscles in my shoulders and arms still scream out while I attempt to maintain the "downward dog" pose for any length of time, and my favourite poses are still "child's pose" and "corpse." Why do I keep at it? Flexibility and strength are important to me, and I feel absolutely wonderful after each class.
    Living in Toronto, kayaking season is short - June to September. I started kayaking last year at Harbourfront Canoe & Kayak Centre in the evenings, after work. It became a great way to get out of the city for a few hours and also proved to be a good workout for the upper body! I can hardly wait to start up again in a few months.

  4. Drinking water.
    Just one point on drinking water, as we all know the benefits in maintaining our health and sense of well-being. Instead of drinking an 8oz glass of water in one go, try taking a few gulps every so often. Your body can't absorb a full glass of water in one sitting and will rid of the excess. Drinking a little at a time and often, is better.

  5. Eating food that's good for me.
    For me, cutting out bread (including bagels, pastries, muffins, etc.) and sugar from my diet is a giant step towards feeling good. I do struggle with this from time to time, but if I'm "in the zone" and doing well in this area, I feel better, have more energy, and the flat tummy is not bad either! I substitute the bread with protein and veggies and the sweets with fruit and nuts, among other healthy alternatives.

  6. Sleeping.
    Seven to eight hours of sleep each night is what I aim for. I awake refreshed and ready and excited to start my day!

  7. Meeting new people.
    This is something that does not come naturally to me but ultimately does make me feel good. As an introvert, I'm aware that my need for being around people is maybe less than that of some. Social media has really opened up this area for me personally. I have made connections to many different people, and I feel that it has enriched my life. Through Facebook and Twitter I have been able to reunite with old friends, meet new friends and business contacts and maintain relationships easily.

  8. Forgiveness.
    All of us have been disappointed or hurt at some time in our lives and I am no exception. I remember a person saying to me, after a rather painful experience I had gone through, that I would need to forgive before I could move on. At the time I thought that if that were true, how unfair. Why did I have to do anything - I was the hurt one. It seemed too tall an order. Years later, I came to recognize the truth in that statement. Forgiveness was essential for moving on and essential for my sense of well-being.

  9. Keeping connected.
    Once every couple of weeks I get together with friends after work, for drinks or dinner (or both!). My schedule is pretty busy most weeks, but this is something that is really important to me, so I make the time for it. Those nights with girlfriends are especially essential to keeping me sane - it's where I get to be myself, talk out what's on my mind, and listen. Another tip on keeping in touch is this: every so often I look through the contacts on my phone, and if I come across the name of a person I have not connected with lately, I'll send her/him a note to say 'hi.' Many of us get caught up in the business of life and before we know it, a week has passed, and then a month. I try to keep in touch.

  10. Spending time in nature.
    Essential to my well-being, every once in a while I need to get of the city - away from the noise of traffic and surrounded by the sound of birds or a lake or the ocean; away from the smog and smells of the city and around the smells of trees, flowers and fresh air.

  11. De-cluttering and organizing.
    I like to spend some time each month sorting, filing, throwing away and donating when possible unwanted items: papers, books, clothing, shoes and other items that contribute to clutter. When I clean out a drawer or catch up on my filing or donate clothing I no longer wear, I feel as though I've accomplished something, and the stress that comes with all that clutter goes away.

  12. Planning.
    Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a planner. I may be a little too extra in this area, but planning for me really does help keep me sane. A schedule keeps me organized, and being organized helps keep stress at bay.

  13. Creating a sanctuary.
    I love my bedroom. It's the colour of the ocean and my furniture for the most part is white. I have various photos on my wall of the beach. It feels peaceful. It's important to have a place I can go to when I need to be alone. It provides a time for me to relax and reflect.

  14. Thinking good thoughts.
    I try to be conscious of what I am thinking about at any given moment. This is probably one of the most important points on maintaining saneness for me. If I think about how I want my life to be, live in anticipation of those thoughts and believe I am already there, I will attract more of the same thoughts and that which I am anticipating. More on this here.

  15. Taking time for myself.
    So essential to me staying sane is taking time for me. Going for a run to clear my head, taking a book to a coffee shop and spending some downtime immersed in a novel, taking a trip on my own, going for a long walk and taking in the sights and sounds - time alone is necessary in keeping me sane.

  16. Living MY life!
    Last, but certainly not least, please live your life. It doesn't have to resemble anyone else's, it is yours after all. You get one chance at this thing called life. People say, "life is short" but it's the longest thing you'll do. Do it your way. I do.

1 comment:

craig said...

Great first post, and great list. Ah, if we all keep these 16 pillars to life, I am certain the world would benefit. And a great read to start the week, to remember what is important on a Monday morning.

stay adventurous y stay blogging