Saturday, October 3, 2015

All the Small Things

Ever see those internet lists of stress busting tips? You know the ones that you click on every time but never seem to actually incorporate into your life. I just can’t resist internet lists. But I swear I have an automatic reflex to roll my eyes any time someone says the word ‘mindfulness.’ If I can’t have a week at the Four Seasons Waikiki then I’m not about to dick around with breathing exercises, sun salutations or the like.

But weirdly enough, things that have helped me feel rather Zen have found a way of creeping into my life (and no, none of them involve wine thankyouverymuch). Here they are in list format for you to try (or roll your eyes at, as the case may be).

1. Lighting a candle. Understandably, this is a weird one because its still surface of the sun hot right now. But I was studying in Med Ed last night and a dear classmate brought a lovely vanilla scented candle. It made the room smell delightful and when I closed my eyes I could swear it was feeling more like fall outside. Such a simple thing, and yet it lifted my mood and made studying slightly more bearable. FYI…I am fairly certain candles are not actually allowed in Med Ed, so if anyone asks you didn’t hear that from me or get a flameless one for hours of flammable free study time.

2. Make time for gratitude. This is one of those things that I really want to do—and usually I’m not sure how so then I don’t do anything and end up eating Chipotle in my bed. Countless studies have shown that being purposefully grateful for the good things in your life make us happier and allows us to appreciate our lives more. Can’t find anything to be grateful for? That’s okay, just the act of searching is enough to boost your mood. Although I bet if you try hard enough, you can find at least a few things. This is also a great way to get a jump start on Thanksgiving, so when someone asks you what you are grateful for this year, you’ll know what to say. Here’s mine (in no particular order and partially plagiarized from John Carroll’s amazing SF Gate column): sunsets, apples, bedrooms in the morning, Jack Johnson, birthdays, the smile on the face of a passing stranger, rivers, mountaintops, cathedrals, Shakespeare, Tina Fey, the nation of Switzerland, grass, oranges, jumbo shrimp, Occam's razor, clean restrooms, potable water, penguins, French kissing and chocolate.

3. Do a Random Act of Kindness. A friend of mine recently lost her mom to cancer. She told me that the only thing that made her feel better was doing random acts of kindness. She literally became addicted to good deeds. If you're so inclined try slipping a kind note into someone’s locker or buying someone coffee (or diet coke) or I dunno...I hear this one girl really likes wine. Try one random act of kindness this week okay? Its magic I swear.

4. Hug it out. Not that stupid side hug crap. Full on body press, bear type hug it out. I'm betting Ngabo is willing to show you if you need reminding. There are 106 of us to choose from, not counting the first year class. Hug them too, except not if they just got out of anatomy- that’s gross. Hug your dog, hug your mom, hug your roommate—they have to live with you are you’re probably messy (note to self; hug Roshelle and then apologize profusely for leaving a tomato in the fridge for 6 months.) Hugging releases good old Oxytocin and that shit feels amazing.

5. Treat yo self. We work hard, no doubt about that. Show yourself some love (wink face). Other options for loving yourself include: Going for a walk, calling a friend, reading a book (for funsies), giving in to your Netflix playlist, having a dance party, taking a shower or just generally putting down those disgusting derm pictures.

So there you have it. No kombucha required. Can you feel the floor beneath your feet get sturdier? Can you see the holes being patched? Med school is fraught with stress—some real and some of our own creation. Embrace the crazy—I’m betting you’d miss it if it wasn’t there.

When it comes to wellness, the limit does not exist.

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