Read, Exercise, Meditate
In 2020, time passed slowly for me because I stayed indoor most of the time. Every time I followed the news, constant barrage of sensational stories overwhelmed me. I watched the riot at the Capitol Building with dread and uncertainty because I live 30 minutes away from where it happened. With so many things going on around the U.S., I decided that it’s much better for me to focus on my well-being rather than getting sucked into current events.
I experimented with different methods to stay physically and emotionally healthy last year. Sleep is non-negotiable for me so I looked into what I could do in my waking hours. I found that these three activities helped me to be most productive: read, exercise, and meditate. I created a simple system that includes those activities to my daily schedule.
The internet has an abundant of articles on every topic imaginable. The drawback is the abundant of links being included in those articles. I often fall into a rabbit hole when I read an interesting article. I will follow the links to see what else is available. At the end of the surfing session, I only come out with a general idea of what I started with.
I want to eliminate the fragmented mindset of reading internet articles. When I read something online, I want to jump to the next topic without digesting what I just read. My attention span is much shorter now as a result. To change that, I made a list of different topics I want to learn more about and purchased books related to those topics.
I transferred those books to my Kindle and committed at least one hour to read everyday. When I read, I disconnect from the internet completely. I read slower now as I attempt to understand what is being written. I play with the ideas in my mind, combine them with past knkowledge, and form something different. The process is laborious but enjoyable.
Sitting all day is terrible for my back and neck. While I try to keep a good posture, I still feel uncomfortable after long periods of sitting. The effects are accumulating on my body so I practice yoga recently to counteract those effects. I tried weight lifting and running before but those exercises did not address my problems.
My flexibility improved immensely since I started. My back and neck pain were reduced to almost nothing. It’s the most effective exercise I found for my needs.
Meditation is difficult. The constant bombardments of thoughts about everything make my emotional state a swirling mess. I started with ten minutes of meditation in the morning. It was a humbling experience. My mind was a racing horse that kept on running at full speed. I held on to the reins for dear life.
The experience was agonizing. I thought I did not set my alarm because it has already been so long. I opened my eyes and it was barely five minutes. Then I stopped fighting with the horse. I let it go wherever it wanted to. I sit back and observe the scenery of thoughts passing by. When I pay too much attention to a thought, the horse gallops full speed again to chase it. It’s a learning process of observing but not engaging.
Similar to exercise, meditation was uncomfortable at first but I felt great afterward. I am able to control my emotions better. It forms a filter around my mind. When negative emotions spring up, I learn to recognize them with the filter and let them pass. I judge myself less harshly when I make mistakes.
A nice addition to my three activities is that they form the acronym REM. The REM sleep rejuvenates my brain while my awake REM improves my personal well-being. The activities take time but my productivity decline when I don’t perform maintenance on myself.