30 Minute Miracles

My day job recently has been…very stressful.

Very stressful.

Sometimes, I finish the work day, and I am in a jumbled state that can only be described as “frazzled.” I cross the finish line and my legs won’t stop. I get to the end of the sentence and I can’t just put down the period and be done.

This is a very stark contrast to how I normally operate, when things are running smoothly: I’m a perfectly functioning automobile heading down life’s interstate. Oh, it’s time to change lanes? I put on my turn signal, move over and boom. Easy.

When I’m stressed out, it’s Fast and Furious, Part Katie’s-Gonna-Kill-Someone.

So I learned something very useful but surprisingly difficult to do: I take 30 minutes and only do things I want to. I close the door to my office. I cross-stitch. I listen to music. I mess around on my computer. I doodle.

I imagine you’re waiting for the ‘difficult’ part here. The activities themselves are pleasant, sure, but it’s the awareness of what is waiting on the other side of the door. There’s this tiny version of me, banging on it with both fists, saying, “Hey! Hey! There’s dinner to make! That laundry isn’t going to put itself away! You do not have time to just be hiding in your room!”

The hell I don’t.

30 minutes. Think about it. How many times have you wasted 30 minutes on an extra episode of a television show? Or hitting the snooze on the clock by your bed?

By taking the time to gather my mental marbles up and put them back in the bag where they belong, I know they aren’t getting lost. I can come at my to-do list reinvigorated.

Give it a try. You have time. I dare you.

Advertisements

My Top Favorite YouTube Relaxation Channels

I’ve only recently appreciated the fact that there is a lot of awesome stuff on Youtube for relaxation. I’m not even talking about the hours and hours and hours of music and meditation, both guided and musical. But there are a lot of things I thought wouldn’t be relaxing that makes me let go of anxiety and tension. Some of them may sound weird — my list includes ASMR, and there are many that believe that ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) is not actually a thing, that it is anecdotal at best.

I tend to react to this the way I do to most self-care: what works for one person may not work for another. So long as it isn’t dangerous, hurtful or illegal, you don’t owe anyone an explanation.

So here we have some of my top five channels I watch to relax.

1. Maqaroon

This handcrafter does a lot of needle-felting (which I love to do), creates stuffed animals, and there are frequently links to places where you can buy the kits she uses. A lot of videos also have really pleasant music.

2. Funkypinkgal

This is another craft channel, but this one is more based on polymer clay charms. Really cute stuff. Again, really relaxing music.

3. Nameless (don’t be alarmed on this one — the person creating the videos had their name stolen, and to protect themselves and others, it was changed)

In Japan, there are these candy-making kits where you mix together water and dry ingredients before “preparing them” in really cool ways. I’ve never tried one of these personally, because I’ve heard they can taste a little odd (sweets across the world are interpreted very differently) but the videos are really cool.

4. K Werner Design

That’s right. It’s another craft one. This one centers around papercrafts – calligraphy, cardmaking,stamps, coloring. The pieces she makes are beautiful, and she has a ton of links and tutorials if you are inspired by her creations.

5. Grav3yardgirl

So this one is going to probably come off very “one of these things is not like the others” and I’m not really sure how to explain it but Bunny’s channel is really relaxing to me. Her biggest focus is on makeup, but she also reviews As Seen on TV products, takes the viewer on shopping trips, and does monthly favorites. Sometimes, it’s very high-energy, but her makeup reviews especially are very informative and make me feel very chilled out.

So how about it, guys? What channels do you watch when you’re trying to destress? I want to know! Tell me. I dare you.

5 Things You Can Buy for Less than $15 to Help You Relax

If you are a fan of bohemian.on.rye, you know I love lists of 5 things. 5 things that one can do, 5 things that are awesome, 5 things I learned from some book/movie/etc. So this is my debut “5 things” post for all you lovelies.

1. Kinetic Sand

It’s not just for kids. The soft texture of this substance is extremely soothing to play with. I keep some on hand for when I am feeling especially anxious.

2. Bath bombs from Lush

Sex Bomb

So this one can be a bit of a slippery slope, because once you try pretty much anything from Lush, you’re going to be hooked. These extremely fragrant, fun balls will make your bath not only smell and feel great, but they look awesome.

3. Try Next Issue

https://i1.wp.com/imgs.zinio.com/magimages/500299025/2015/416338244_370.jpg

I recently discovered this service, and I am hooked. Because I love buying magazines, but once I read them, I tend to keep giant stacks. For $10 a month, you can peruse a sizable catalog of monthly magazines and download new ones as they come out. Now when I’m feeling a bit too frazzled to get into a book, I’ll find a new magazine and flip through it on my tablet or smart phone.

4. A skein of yarn and some knitting needles

I learned how to knit on Saturday, and I can’t stop. It’s such a mindless activity that can give me a place to focus unwanted energy.

5. A video game on Steam

I love video games. I’m not a hardcore gamer, but I know what I like, and when I’m in a tense state of mind, nothing helps me blow off steam (har har) more than a few puzzle games. One of the great things about Steam is there is something for everyone (Sonic? Dragon’s Lair? Super Meatboy?) and there are frequent sales. You can pick up great games for pennies on the dollar at the right times.

What splurges do you allow yourself when you need to chill?

Chill

If there is one thing I always feel like imparting to people, that I try to tell people that they can do, that I wish I could have told myself some number of years back, it’s this: chill.

It’s December, and I live near a very popular mall in the Pittsburgh area. As I was driving home from getting my car inspected, I watched a long line of cars get progressively longer on the way down the highway, heading toward the exit. I could read in the way people were driving – with stiff jerks, quick breaks, and wiggly swerves – that tensions were growing between two groups: the people trying to get to the mall and the people trying to get away from it.

If you let people get under your skin, you’ll never survive. Not right now and not in the future.

If you allow the persnickety voices in your head to snipe at you, you’ll lose your mind.

If you refuse to take a breath and remember that none of this will kill you and all of this shall pass, you’re going to die.

Okay, that last one is a bit dramatic. But have you seen the studies about getting stressed to death? Scary stuff!

And don’t think me a paragon of virtue (or do — and tell me all about it, in flowery detail!). This topic came to me because while I sat in the Ford waiting room – one of my favorite waiting rooms; does that sound crazy? – I took out a notebook to try to diagram out what was making me feel so overwhelmed recently. I had been feeling aimless. Stuck. I didn’t know why. So of course I was expecting needing some great amount of time to dissect all my inner turmoil and problematic scramble of ideas, mismanaged priorities and opportunities that had fallen to the wayside.

I was done in about…twenty minutes. And I was left, laughing to myself as I loaded up Hulu, going, “Uh. I was really built up over nothing.”

None of it is a big deal.

So there we go, folks. Which are you going to be? The serene Ford Focus that passed its inspection and is taking its time heading home while listening to Pinkerton, even if it make take an extra ten minutes? Or the honk-happy Buick who almost slammed into an elderly couple because if it had to wait through the light one more time, it was going to have a hernia?

Your choice.

Writing Tip: Relax Before Everything Explodes

Image

This picture was taken at the lovely Japanese Garden in Washington Park Arboretum, when I visited Seattle, WA.

I know these used to be numbered, but is anyone keeping count really? (This is not a challenge to go back and check the last time I did this or to express that you do, in fact, know how many of these I’ve done. You’ll just make everyone feel BAD.)

Recently, I’ve gotten a few inquiries from fellow writers who have been curious about the process of publishing. I’m always flattered, and as much as I want to say, “I’ll tell you all about it after I use the facilities” and slip surreptitiously out the bathroom window, I do share the knowledge I have. One of my tips is always looked at as extremely counter-intuitive, especially in our culture of ‘keep going, drink coffee, never stop doing what you want AND what will pay you money AND take a spa day with your Blackberry.’

Relax.

Take it easy.

I know, I know. It’s fun to get into that momentum where you’re hurling yourself through every twist and turn like you’re in a foam forest while wearing one of those crazy padded Sumo bodysuits. Look at what a powerful force you are! You can’t stop now! You have to get all of those words out there into the world before they get stale! Every story, article, book or essay is a souffle, and if you let it sit too long, it’s going to sink and nobody is going to want it.

Now, this tip is not to discourage goal-setting – you should definitely set up a GPS when you start out on the wordsmithing roadtrip – but give yourself some space. Take a look and say, “If I really went through this at espresso speed, how fast could I get it done?” Then, multiply that time by two. Slow down. Recognize each step. What’s your rush, cowboy?

When you take your time – when you stop and take a look around the beautiful path you’re on – magic happens. Mindfulness happens. You are more present. You are more aware. It is a peaceful feeling, not going 90 miles-per-hour. Try it.