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the little things

December 15, 2010

It is a great first step to decide that your body’s health is your number one priority.  Where would you be, after all, without it?

But what happens when you are also working full time and developing a writing portfolio and preparing over a dozen grad school applications and maintaining relationships and interning with an editor and creating an entire collection of paintings for your very own art show opening right smack in the middle of application deadlines, not to mention preparing for the holidays?!  What happens when you have about seven number one priorities demanding your attention all at once?

Maybe you panic and go into overdrive for a while; maybe you get super organized, maybe you just cry.  I admit I have done all of the above lately, mostly the overdrive thing.  This may sound like a productive way to let the stress manifest, and to a certain point it has been, but it has also been really challenging to stay in contact with my body’s needs in the midst of my little frenzy.  I have been sticking workouts into my week here and there — these tend to be highly intense workouts and less frequent than before.   They tend to be rote workouts with few “check-ins,” push-myself-because-I-should-rather-than-because-it-feels-good-workouts.  I have not been stretching enough or sleeping enough and my body is in pain.  Such is the nature of the body, for better or for worse (mostly, I think, for better) — it will not let you ignore it for too long.

Being frantic is just a coping mechanism, a way to feel productive and keep the anxiety at bay.  I am in the process of learning how to be productive during busy times without the frantic quality, but this learning process involves multiple cycles of getting swept up and then coming back down.

Once I have blown through my chosen coping mechanism and come back down to earth, I always find one truth: the answer is in the little things.  I may not have the freedom to take on any more major obligations right now, but I can make little changes to the way I do the things I am already doing.  I can add a 2-minute ease-in and a 5 minute cool-down to my cardio workouts — these seven extra minutes will not make or break any other areas of my life.  I can stretch every hour or two at work, even if just for 30 seconds each time.   And I can engage more with what free-time I do have… I just started a new tradition of eating my lunch in the park by my office every day and then taking a ten minute walk before returning to work.  It is amazing how good this little extra bit of activity and bodily connection feels.

Sometimes these sneaky little details transform everything.  I love learning this lesson — there is no sacrifice involved, no extra burden, just a little shift in my approach to the daily grind.

❤ Diana Banana

image courtesy of,r:0,s:0&tx=49&ty=124

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