Ever have a moment where you step away from social media in one last futile attempt to silence your mind and create a gap in active screen time? Whether yes or no, the feeling for me has created this month lag in Happy Runner posts while I tried to get a grip on my utter frustration around the expectation to never "turn off." Of course my intention was never to leave the happy runners behind. It's here I feel my most creative and most complete self. It's in this venue with the Happy Runner manifesto that is keeping me sane.
Instead, this break is a cry to my inner peace to show itself in the form of active recovery in a toxic work environment. My goal in my happy runner heart mission was to take all that I've leaned in my own yogi-runner journey and not only create a discourse of how I apply it in my own life, but also share it with a community of like-minded souls like you. In this past month I've been called to act on my own cry of action...to meditate in brief moments on the train and during elevator rides, use 20 spare moments in the early morning for quick at-home yoga or a morning run, cook on Sundays to try to bring healthy meals during the week.
This month has been a test of balance and patience. There have been multiple moments where I considered throwing my stuff out the window and sitting down to cry. These are the moments you know if your "practice" is working.
If you've ever wondered why it's called practice, then let me be the first to verify thAT game time is the day you spill your coffee, miss the train, run late to your first meeting, and make a mistake on a report all before you put your lunch in the office refrigerator.
It's easier to be calm in the sanctuary of a riverside path or your favorite yoga studio. It's possible to "find space" and "find peace" when the world presents the opportunity for you to find time. The test rises during the moments where there is no time, there is no space, but by putting your practice to the test there can still be peace.
In this month, as with other difficult and suffocating times, endurance has been bred by 3 principles:
1. Speak your issues and then send them away
2. Sleep and eat as though life is perfect
3. Recover actively
Speak your issues
Ever been so upset by someone or something that you're fuming inside your own body, but then when you try to explain to someone why you're so angry you can't find be words for why it was such a disaster anymore? There's power in attempting to convey the items creating your frustration. Articulating the moments of fury can help you capsule them into smaller, more manageable (and less horrible) chunks. You'll also have the chance to see if you've been over exaggerating - I know, how dare I. But it's nothing to be ashamed about. Every task, race, challenge is daunting without a plan. Speaking your issues is step 1 in creating your recovery plan. So speak them, section them, and then send them away.
Sleep and Eat as though life is perfect
I love to give myself excuses as much as the next person. So when I find myself stressed out, I hear the voice in my head tempting me to treat myself to a bagel in the morning, a cookie with my lunch, and an afternoon snack. I tell myself it's ok to have an extra glass of wine after work, and to skip my morning workout because I "deserve it." Unfortunately this sends me on a spiral of going to bed too late, not having enough energy during the day, and falling into a spiral of feeling pretty terrible. The one thing I"ve learned from stressful times is to eat and sleep as though life is perfect. Choose the foods that you would put in your body while you train for your toughest race or event. Eat clean and reward yourself by not letting your busy time set you back from your goals. If you must skip your workout, do so because you're placing yourself into bed to get the sleep you deserve, not the drink. Little by little this will place you back on the path of "perfect."
Stress breeds the chemical cortisol, the compound which gives your body the energy for fight or flight during times of need. But if you're like me - or most of stressed out America - everything in an office environment can be stressful. Florissant lights, cubicles, pointless meetings, and a black hole of emails all build up cortisol in our blood steam especially when we get stuck in the office for much more than 40-60 hours a week. While cortisol in an unmoving office environment can build up over time and cause everything from high blood pressure to excess stomach weight, when used productively it can also fuel a more powerful workout and even become a fat fighter if you use it near the end of the day before going to bed. It's tough when you're busy to get to the gym. How are you supposed to do anything when you're rolling out of the office at 9:30PM? But if you're able to do something as simple as take yourself on 1 mile run, two things are likely to happen. The first is you'll burn off the cortisol and the second is you're more than likely going to run longer than 1 mile.
These tips are constants. There is no perfect recipe to strip away stress, but everyone has a recipe that makes it bearable. For me it will always be moving enough to find calm once I sit still. For you it may be moving your mind through your favorite book to take your mind away from work, or cleaning your house every morning so it becomes your sanctuary at night. Whatever the things are, I do know we all need a pre-planned contingency plan for when things hit the fan. I hope you can leverage these to make yours.