Fitness

How Catherine holds it together (when she indeed does…)

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I’ve been seeing all these lists from the NY Times Well section on “how I hold it together”, written by various staff members. They started in 2021, and reflect responses to stresses and fears around the pandemic. But of course that’s not all. All the stresses and fears, I mean. But while the rest of the paper of record covers those worries from outside of us and around us, the Well list writers’ coverage is internal and personal. They’re telling us what they themselves are doing to maintain equilibrium and calm in their own lives, which may include children, family members, partners, pets, plants, etc. Here are a few of them:

Patia Braithwaite

  • Uses coffee pot as alarm clock—sets pot to start brewing so to wake up to coffee smell
  • Traveling “to-do” list—on sticky notes to carry with and keep track of
  • Therapy as lifeline—enough said
  • Rest for at least 10 minutes a day—maybe meditation, more often breathing and relaxing
  • Distress walks—dissipates negative emotions (with time and mileage)
  • Knitting (and not)—enjoys process around projects, relaxed about doing and finishing them

Catherine Pearson

  • Get at least 7 hours of sleep
  • Limit electronic notifications
  • Cuddle the dog!
  • Update phone lock screen photo with new family photos
  • Go on app-guided runs
  • Practice 3-breath hugs—hold child or loved one for three deep breaths

Farah Miller

  • Spontaneous phone calls to distant friends and family
  • Naps
  • Really slow running
  • Making playlists
  • Hang out with pandemic puppy
  • Hike with friends

I like these lists. No, I don’t have a dog, and police procedurals are not my preferred binge watching. But other peoples’ comfort techniques definitely speak to me. What do these lists have in common?

  • Developing and trying to stick to a routine, especially around movement and sleep/rest
  • Cultivating an activity that brightens the day and mood
  • Reminding oneself to be realistic and modest about productivity expectations
  • Off-the-clock or off-the grid time, in whatever ways give pleasure (binge-watching, thinking about knitting, fantasy travel planning, resting, ceramics class, etc.)
  • Regular human social connection, though phone calls, group texts, shared walks, long hugs with loved ones
  • Physical activity– either with or without dog– but without performance goals or expectations

So, what about my list? When I’m holding it together, how do I do that? I know I promised one in the title of this post.,.. Okay, here goes.

Catherine’s Hold-it-together list, version 1.0

  • Morning meditation every day– either while still in bed, or directly after coffee
  • Late afternoon quiet pause– during low-energy time, a break to rest, read, do phone puzzle, meditate
  • Talk to friends or family on the phone every day– real-time connection through conversation is my life blood
  • Spend a little time on house tidying or organizing– it makes me feel more calm and in control of my environment
  • Move my body– on my yoga mat, on my bike, on my two legs– preferably outside, but even inside will do in a pinch
  • Set phone alarms for eating, taking meds, turning off media to go to bed– reminders help me avoid falling down a rabbit hole of whatever’s got my attention at the time

I’ll revisit this later on to see how well my hold-it-together list holds up. In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you– how do you hold it together? Do you craft, canoe, communicate in Morse code across continents? Let us know.

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