Toil, worry or boredom

photo credit: Cannon Eye via photopin (license)

photo credit: Cannon Eye via photopin (license)

“Broadly speaking,” Churchill said, “human beings can be divided into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death.”

 

Winston Churchill, a very busy man, was a big fan of hobbies. “To be really happy,” he said, “one ought to have at least two or three hobbies.” (Early to Rise)

 

Until I read that second quote from Churchill, I wondered if I had too many hobbies. As soon as I had that thought, I realized how great of a problem this was! It wasn’t that many years ago where I was searching for hobbies. I wanted to have something to do with my time, a way to meet new people, and to feel like I was using my down time in a way that was productive.

I had gone through this period in my life where I worked too much and obsessed about it and I had no outlet except TV. I was too tired to read and demotivated. I needed something to do that wasn’t work. I lived with an intensity that never ended and it was hard work!

I needed to learn how to play.

Now… I probably need to learn how to work again! I read, I write (or I used to),  I crochet, colour, sew (sort of), I bake, I play piano…

I’m really proud of myself for the progress I’ve made with crochet. It was something I had wanted to for ages and finally decided to get down to it. Now that more people in my life are having babies, and with these incoming refugees to Canada, I have all kinds of people to make things for! Of course you’ve seen me post about colouring as well. It’s been nice to have a few different creative outlets to choose from because I can go all out with one until I’m sick of it and then switch to the other!

If you don’t have a hobby, you really need to find something that works for you. You don’t need to take up colouring or writing for it to “count.” Hikes, runs, woodworking, gardening, baking, cooking, the list is endless. Think about it. What would you like to do more of that isn’t work or housekeeping related?

Five simple reasons you need a hobby

  1. It helps you avoid burnout.
  2. It gives your brain a break and reduces your likelihood of depression and dementia! 
  3. It’s fun!
  4. It’s stress relief.
  5. You can meet new people.

“But I’m so busy, you don’t understand!” I maybe don’t understand but I also think you’re probably not totally right. You still need a hobby! Your seven kids can terrorize your husband instead for an hour while you go bird watching. Work 78 hours this week instead of 80 so you can finally start learning to breakdance. Just do something!

Let’s look at first Churchill quote again: “Broadly speaking, human beings can be divided into three classes: those who are toiled to death, those who are worried to death, and those who are bored to death.”

Which are you? Let’s be toilers of good things: faith, family, work, and meaningful leisure that fills our tank for more.

My new obsession

If you’ve been following me on Instagram or Facebook at all lately, you’ll know that I got into colouring this summer. I first saw an article about how it’s the new thing for adults (mostly women), and I immediately knew I’d love it. But I didn’t go out and get a book because I had just spent a bunch of money on sewing. I have this tendency to start projects and not really finish them — you may have noticed this as you’ve followed this blog.

Finally back in July, I was feeling pretty crappy and in need of a vacation from my life and I was staying at my in-laws. I was perusing a Chapters and I just went for it. It had been months since I was ogling these books.

I started colouring and I don’t think I stopped for weeks. Those few weeks I was at my in-laws it was basically all I did every waking moment. I would nap Jack, change him, feed him, and otherwise let my in-laws play with him any other time he was awake. Call it neglect, or self-care, or whatever, this mama got a holiday and it was BLISS.

Most of these colouring books claim they’re for stress, or zen, or mindfulness or whatever. There’s lots of articles claiming about the anti-stress benefits of colouring and why so many people are taking it up. I’ve heard of girls getting together to having colouring parties, and other people like me do it while watching TV or in church (It helps me focus!).

Why do I like it?

1. It keeps my hands busy

I enjoy doing two things at once- watching TV and colouring, listening to podcasts and crocheting, listening to music while cooking. Colouring is a great mix for TV and podcasts because I don’t need to focus so much on the craft, unlike crochet. I may have coloured with a friend while FaceTiming before….

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2. It helps me think

One of the surprising benefits for me was how much I ended up thinking and processing while I was colouring. If I sat quietly and focused on the colouring, I would think through hall kinds of different life problems etc.

3. It stimulates my creative side

I’m a creative type who likes pretty things and so this has been the perfect fit for me. It doesn’t require too much concentration (like crochet) and I have all kinds of control over it because it’s easy (unlike sewing. Or it has yet to become as easy as colouring). I was never great at doodling because things didn’t always come out pretty. But I can colour nicely!

4. It’s helping me learn to just be.

As I sit and colour, it’s challenging me because I’m not doing anything important. I’m not changing the world, raising a child OR worrying about not doing these things. I get to sit quitely, enjoy life and beauty, and just be. It’s really good for my soul.
Some of my favourite books are:
midnfulness
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It’s pocked sized so its easy to stick in your purse and do on the go. I only have a few more pages and I’ll be done this one!
stained glass 11325250_491167211043419_1419628379_n
This one is based on actual stained glass windows in churches and libraries. There is a legend at the back of the book to tell you where each is from. I usually look up the original on google images and copy the actual stained glass.

Try it out!

Chapters/Indigo have a great selection that you can check out online. And if you’re a dude that thinks it might be fun, don’t fret. There’s one on cities and a new one on Game of Thrones just announced. Or you can find some free printables online to test drive the idea. I prefer using markers but lots of people use pencil crayons (apparently this is a Canadian term? I guess it’s coloured pencils for my neighbours to the south).
Enjoy!

Impostor!

I had never heard about Imposter Syndrome until I read “Overcoming Impostor Syndrome: Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Coding” by a staff at LiftApp. It’s a fascinating read that I think a lot of people in their 20s would benefit from reading. I was reminded of the post recently by something a friend said, which alerted me to the fact that I think the article is more timely in my life than I realize.

What is impostor syndrome?

According to Wikipedia, impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome) is:

a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.

This GeekFeminism Wiki (I didn’t know websites like this existed!) You may feel inadequate and that you don’t measure up to the standard necessary for what you do, leading to:

  • not applying for jobs, promotions, and other employment opportunities
  • not submitting papers to conferences or journals
  • disclaiming or understating their experience/skill when speaking or writing
  • nervousness about talking to others in their field, especially if those others are perceived as highly skilled/experienced
  • feeling like a fraud
  • worrying that someone will find out their lack of qualifications and fire them
  • having higher stress
  • overpreparing for tasks
  • attributing successes to chance or luck

According to this 2006 article by Inc., impostor syndrome may be more present in women:

The impostor syndrome may be especially problematic among women. In the business realm, female CEOs are still rare enough that many believe their performance is being watched more closely and that their success or failure reflects directly on their female peers. Fundamental issues of nature and nurture also apply. “There’s a lot of evidence that boys growing up tend to blame things outside of themselves when things go wrong: The other team cheated; the referee wasn’t fair; the teacher didn’t give us enough time to study,” says Young. “Girls tend to blame themselves. So when they don’t make the sale, the customer isn’t saying he doesn’t like the product–he’s saying, ‘You’re inadequate.’”

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook has spoken openly about impostor syndrome before. In the Globe and Mail, she describes how it has affected her, despite being a Harvard grad, having worked for the World Bank and Google before Facebook:

“Women systematically underestimate their capabilities,” she says. “If you ask a man why he did a good job, he’ll say, ‘I’m awesome.’ A woman will say, ‘I’m lucky I got someone good to help me.’ ” When offered their first job after university, 57 per cent of men negotiate for themselves. Only 7 per cent of women do. “Women don’t feel they deserve their success,” she argues. “They don’t even understand it.”

Does this sound like you? It sure sounds like me. I’ve noticed it more and more as I’ve moved up in leadership at work and especially this fall after moving into the Office full-time.

  • I fear talking to anyone of any level of importance or making decision that affect others because I assume my decisions are under-informed.
  • I fear I haven’t earned my place
  • I fear people will soon realize that I’m really green and have more to learn than is worth spending the time to teach me
  • They’ll realize that I’ve led people astray due to my lack of expertise and regret letting me influence others

I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a large contributor to the stress I’ve experienced the last year.

Run away: maybe I really am a runner?

Tuesday evening I sat on the bench in my dad’s entryway to put on my running shoes to go for a run. As I sat there a few memories hit me. I’m pretty open about how I’m not really a runner (yet). I haven’t been very athletic since I hit puberty and suddenly athletics were significantly more challenging for me than they were before.

But I did run. Infrequently. As I laced up my shoes I remembered one of the first times that I did the same thing about 10 years ago. I ran for a different reason then. I ran because I was angry and didn’t know how else to deal with my anger. My parents’ divorce was becoming more imminent. I took to the back country roads to manage the boiling blood pulsing through my hormone-filled veins.

country1

As I started walking up the road I thought of the last time I had ran this road. It was 5 years ago and I ran for a different reason. This time I had just returned home after University. I was living with my dad because of that time in job transition and I was isolated from city life and all the friends that had become so dear to me. Slowly I realized that my world was turning gray and I had to pretend to have emotions or feel anything, really.

hyperbole-depression

That year I ran to restore my mental health that was slipsliding deeper in deeper into a cave of nothingness. I would run that country road until I reached the top of the hill where I was finally out of the valley and into cell phone service AKA life! and call #b or Amanda, who were my reward for getting exercise that I didn’t really care about but knew I needed (they say exercise is good for your mental health.).

It was a good moment looking back on those hard things and see how I’ve come out of them. 5 years changes a lot, 5 more years, even more. While I still struggle to say I’m a runner, maybe deep down I am? The only ways I knew how to face those crappy days head on was to run away.

imageEven if Running and I are still just getting to know each other, our first encounters have been very helpful!

Laughter is good medicine

ostrich

The other day I was watching How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. I know, not exactly the best TV show for a lot of reasons (Barney being a huge dirtbag being one of them) but I realized that watching every episode of the first 6 seasons is partly why I stayed sane since September at work.

I realized I had a lot of internal stress for reasons I don’t exactly know. Even when I don’t feel stressed my body tells me I am by making me have stomach aches etc. It’s frustrating and confusing because I love what I do (or at least I think I do?). I can now identify things that were stressing me out which has instigated some changes at work that I’m happy about.

As I watched an episode of HIMYM and found myself laughing and laughing. It felt really good and really freeing to laugh despite people getting bombed and raped and bullied to death and battling my self telling myself that I suck (insight into the real internal dialogue that I battle).

Last night, I found myself reading buzzfeed over and over. 25 Photos You Need To Really Look At To Understand, for example, had my husband and laughing quite hard. I kept clicking and kept laughing. It was really nice.

As life gets more and more complex, as we hear about terror plots between Montreal and Toronto and about other things that make me want to stick my head in the sand, I need to remember just to find a way to laugh. Laughter is a wonderful stress reliever, spirit-lifter, and is linked with — you guessed it — better productivity.

Do you ever try to make yourself laugh when you’re stressed or upset? What’s your go-to TV show or movie? How do you get your laughter quotient in? Leave a comment to share the funny wealth!

Can journaling help your health?

Apparently it can. Both PsychCentral.com and Psychology Today agree that journaling can help your health.

Reduce stress, be more productive

According to PsychCentral, the benefits might be as minimal as reduced stress or help you manage your emotions. The article indicates journaling can help:

  • Clarify your thoughts and feelings. Do you ever seem all jumbled up inside, unsure of what you want or feel? Taking a few minutes to jot down your thoughts and emotions (no editing!) will quickly get you in touch with your internal world.
  • Know yourself better. By writing routinely you will get to know what makes you feel happy and confident. You will also become clear about situations and people who are toxic for you — important information for your emotional well-being.
  • Reduce stress. Writing about anger, sadness and other painful emotions helps to release the intensity of these feelings. By doing so you will feel calmer and better able to stay in the present.
  • Solve problems more effectively. Typically we problem solve from a left-brained, analytical perspective. But sometimes the answer can only be found by engaging right-brained creativity and intuition. Writing unlocks these other capabilities, and affords the opportunity for unexpected solutions to seemingly unsolvable problems.
  • Resolve disagreements with others. Writing about misunderstandings rather than stewing over them will help you to understand another’s point of view. And you just may come up with a sensible resolution to the conflict. (article).

Write out difficult experiences

Whereas Psychology Today goes much deeper. They spoke with Dr. James W. Pennebaker who is a social psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. He talks about how writing can be tremendous therapy for people who have experienced traumatic events.

“When people are given the opportunity to write about emotional upheavals, they often experienced improved health. They go to the doctor less. They have changes in immune function. If they are first-year college students, their grades tend to go up,” he says.

I have definitely experienced all of the bullet points listed above from Psych Central. What about you? Have you been able to keep a journal long enough to find benefit in it? Leave a comment by clicking here

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