SO OFTEN we don’t bat a lash at being mean to ourselves – not because we’re inadequate, but because we’re removed.
Distraction is a fun tactic we use when we feel things we don’t want to be feeling. Scared? Procrastinate the day away. Uncomfortable? Check every app on your phone (twice). Anxious? Eat your feelings. And when we distract, we dissociate.
But the thing is, when we dissociate from whatever’s happening – the nervous jitters, the awkward moments, the anxiety – we don’t learn how to deal.
And since emotions aren’t inherently good or bad – we just name them that way – we start to shut down OTHER sensations, too.
We don’t just become removed from the things we don’t like, we start to numb out to the things we DO, too.
The way we treat our body is exactly the same. None of our parts are good or bad, we just name them that way. And way too often, we lump them into the “bad” category instead of the good. Seeing a reflection you’d prefer looked different, or noticing your clothes fit a little tighter than usual, morph from neutral sensations to negatively charged emotions.
And what do we do when those emotions bubble up? We distract ourselves. It must be the body. It must be the problem. We detach, place blame, and dissociate.
Just like our Ghost Worries hijack our rational minds – just like salt and sugar cover up what our food actually tastes like – negative self-talk has made us forget what our bodies actually feel like.
The pattern is simple and is just like any other relationship on the rocks. See the thing. Notice the fault. Blame the Other. Withdraw attachment. Withdraw touch. But instead of the Other being a husband or girlfriend or romantic partner, the Other is our body.
The second we dissociate from the actual feel of our body, the second we start to dissociate from our body itself. And when we dissociate from our body for too long, we become afraid of it. Afraid – or at least resentful – of this container we’re in. This thing that seems entirely out of our control. Our skin becomes something to pick at and prod. Our muscles become “bulk” and our fat becomes forbidden. The only time we touch our body is when we’re zeroing in to fix something.
The solution is simple but daunting: like Beyoncé, we must literally be feeling ourselves.
I don’t mean in the sexual sense – but hey, if you’d like to discuss that, we can talk here or here – I mean actually TOUCH ourselves. Our arms. Our legs. Our stomach. Our hips. Feel what our body feels like.
Sound awkward? It might be at first. But it’s a weird yet effective trick I always come back to when I’m really feeling low about my bod. And I find the longer I go without putting TOUCH into practice, the quicker I slip into old body-loathing tendencies and self-talk.
I know, I know…”easiest trick ever” like sounds like super obnoxious clickbait. But seriously. It takes a matter of minutes, doesn’t involve spending money, and doesn’t require you to recite a mantra or do anything too hippie-dippie. There is NOTHING fancy about this practice, but it’s powerful beyond belief.
It’s as easy as applying lotion after you get out of the shower or giving yourself a mini massage. Take the time to actually feel what your skin feels like in your hands, the way your muscles curve and your thighs dimple (yes, everyone’s do). Notice the micro-dips in your collarbone as you press in, or the soft area under your armpits that is so often shilded from the sun. Get curious about your lines and shapes. How does this thing I call My Body fit together? How does it work? How does the weight I put on my feet each day affect their sensitivity, or the constant texting-typing-responding-reacting my arms do affect them from the inside out?
When we can notice the way our skin feels, relieve a tight muscle, feel the way each part of our body miraculously fits together, we become a creature to admire instead of an object to critique.
One of the many joys of my childhood was coming downstairs for breakfast on a lazy Sunday and seeing the newspaper parceled out for each family member. My dad got the front pages – the major headlines and serious stuff. My brother always started with the Sports section, which he split with my mom between bites of cereal or an Eggo waffle or a big fluffy cinnamon roll baked fresh from the Farmers Market.
And me? I got to start with the Comics.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Calendar section for Arts news and the “Lifestyle” section for the op-eds. Chris Erksine’s weekly column in the LA Times was a staple in my repetoire, and the candor with which he and other columnists (in what I deemed the more “cool” and “down-to-earth” sections of the paper as a young reader) wrote about their small yet mighty life experiences was for sure an influence on my speaking and writing style.
But I found that my tween-ish mind could learn way more from the Comics section than any other part of the newspaper. In just six or so pages of newsprint, I could dive into different worldviews, laugh at jokes that I might not have been deemed “marure enough” to understand IRL, and – my favorite – watch characters, in bite-sized vignettes, put words to what every single adult around me was thinking and not saying. As a highly sensitive person and an empath to the core, I could often feel what adults around me felt. I just wasn’t always able to put it into easily understandable terms. How could I, if no one else around me was even validating that these feelings existed?
What’s more, *I* felt those feelings, too. Stress. Loneliness. Awkwardness. Through comics, I could watch these characters morph and evolve week after week right along with me. They helped me wrap my head around a world that was sometimes a bit overwhelming, and even got me seeing – laughing – at the absurdity of so much of it.
When I think of “The News” migrating from the page to the screen, I always feel a pang of sadness. Yes, of course, because of the value of the printed word…but also because of the immense pleasure of the Sunday comics and the parceled-out paper sections at the breakfast table. The newspaper, and particularly the Comics section helped shape me as not just a writer and artist but as a full human being.
Which is why when I started to discover the vast amount of cartoonists and illustrators on Instagram, my heart felt like it had been reunited with a childhood bestie. But better – because the bulk of the cartoonists I was finding myself drawn to were WOMEN.
The one gripe I have about the Comics section of my youth is how male-dominated it was. Baby Blues, Zits, Mutts, and Momma were my go-tos. When Calvin and Hobbes ran its last strip, I cried. But rarely did any characters look like me sans a token mom or female sidekick – and very rarely was there a woman in the byline. If I wanted a female point of view I really only had Cathy to turn to (who was a badass. for the record).
Today, there are countless female cartoonists and illustrators on Instagram creating witty, poignant work that is HIGHLY relatable whether you’re a woman or not. Their bravery to use their art to tackle mental health issues, take a stand for causes they believe in, and help their followers understand the nuances of what makes each person unique toes the line between art and activism.Their boldness helps me, and others like me, be bold by boiling things down to images that make us FEEL.
I might not have a breakfast table decorated with parceled-out newspaper sections and words and ideas just waiting to be discovered, but I love that social media has allowed the Comics section back into my life – and, what’s more, a brand new Comics section that looks a lot more LIKE my life.
Here are five female Instagram cartoonists and illustrators I’m loving – and think you will, too:
Marzi from Introvert Doodles is the one that started it for me. Her cartoons are always a high point in my day, and get me shouting out “ME TOO!” more times than I can count. But silently, because #introvert. Unless I’m alone. Then out loud. I honestly don’t have adequate words to describe how much I love Introvert Doodles…so go check her out yourself to see what I mean.
Hannah Daisy of @makedaisychains is a mental health activist who uses her #boringselfcare series to remind us all – whether we’re struggling with an illness or are feeling down in the slumps – that no act of self care is too small. She’s helped me “just clean the dishes” or “just do the laundry” multiple times. Because sometimes, those “justs” can feel a lot more than that.
I’m obsessed with Mari’s adorable, quirky, uber-positive (but never saccharine) illustrations. Every time an illustration of hers pops up in my feed, I’m reminded of how many little things there are to smile about – and how many of those little things aren’t really so little at all.
@SarahAndersenComics The comic strips that Sarah Andersen of Sarah’s Scribbles (aka @sarahandersoncomics) draws remind me the mosts of the comics I LOVED as a kid – but even better. Sarah tackles anxiety, periods, dating, and the thoughts we’re all thinking but rarely say out loud. And…her comics make me snort-laugh. Which is very important.
Okay, so Kimothy Joy’s work isn’t so much cartoons or comics as it is illustrations and art. But I love her so much, I couldn’t leave her out of this mix. Her gorgeous paintings and drawings are the perfect merger of art and activism, sharing the wise words of women along with artwork that will make your heart sing. New writing goal? Write something worthy of a Kimothy Joy quote illustration.
NOW YOU: What other female cartoonists, illustrators, and artists are you loving? Who else should our WANT community be following on Instagram? Tell me in the comments below!
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So many of you have asked me questions about eating disorder “recovery.” How to get there. How to stay there. How to exist there.
I’ve avoided writing about recovery – like, really writing about it – for a while. Not because I haven’t wanted to, but because I’ve seen others do it and either face scathing criticism from experts or get unwanted attention and get pinned AS an expert. That’s what being hyper-aware of the internet will do: make you worry yourself into inaction.
I feared that some doctor would read or hear my words and rip me a new one. I feared someone would view my words on recovery as this panacea for basically any and every eating/body issue they’ve ever experienced. I feared WANT would become a recovery-specific movement and was wary of diving in as our community was still finding its legs. Because I am no expert.
But now? Now we’ve got our legs, and now they’re damn.strong. We’ve gotten to the point where I feel it would be irresponsible to NOT address the dark, extreme turn negative self-talk can take, head-on. Especially because I’vebeen there.
When you’re coming out of a dark place, any solution can seem like THE solution. Nixing the one trigger from your life or following the one pearl of wisdom can feel like you’re finally on the right track. But it’s never the case. Contrary to what most people who haven’t experienced addiction or body/eating-related disorders (which are, many times, just another form of addiction) think, the most vulnerable time isn’t always when you’re IN the darkness. The most vulnerble time can be actually when you’re actively trying to move toward the light.
Recovery is a three-steps-forward, two-steps-back kind of deal. One moment you forget how you could have ever given so much energy to your disorder, the next you’re sideswiped by an inauspicious trigger and you’re suddenly in shackles again. And the main thing I’ve realized in talking to you all about this…is that recovery is still a hazy concept until you’ve gone through and past it.
For all these reasons and more, I am so proud to bring you The Recovery Myth: a miniseries by WANT sharing real-life stories, smashing open misconceptions, and shining a light on what recovery really looks like.
I’ll be talking to experts, healers, and real-life recoverees answering some of the top recurring questions I’ve gotten from you over the last few years. Not just questions about recovery itself, but about the befores, the durings, the afters, and all the in-betweens that can sometimes seem like you imagined them.
To be clear: the point of The Recovery Myth is NOT to prescribe a roadmap or provide a neat-and-tidy picture of what recovery looks like. The point is to dispel myths surrounding recovery and gain multiple perspectives to provide a more inclusive, holistic, and ultimately helpful view of what it looks like to go from the darkness into the light.
A few disclaimers:
– The Recovery Myth is a four-part series. Once a month, we’ll dive into The Recovery Myth on the site and theWANTcast, culminating in the first week of October for Mental Health Awareness Week.
– I’ll be focuing primarily on eating/body-related disorders, but will also be touching on substance abuse, as they often stem from the same place mentally and emotionally.
– I know that I’m not the authority on recovery, and I think you know that, too. But like I said above, I am incredibly sensitive to the fact that darkness can drive us to latch onto any answer as THE answer and can create codependent relationships. I am not here to provide anyone with definitive answers, nor am I here to be anyone’s crutch. I AM here, however, to maybe spark a conversation, maybe open some eyes, and ask the hard questions that someone maybe might not feel brave enough asking. And I’m hoping, it can maybe help someone feel powerful enough to seek the change they wish to be. Although, spoiler alert: you’re already powerful enough.
So, where do we go? Where do we start? The myths themselves. Totally not an exhaustive list (because the whole never-ending exhaustive list is…exhausting), but let’s kick this off by talking the most ::facepalm:: inducing ones of all.
Here are 7 common myths surrounding the concept of “recovery:”
Myth #1: Recovery means getting “back to normal.”
Ever heard the phrase “you can’t unsee it?” You “can’t unsee” your experiences with an eating disorder or addiction. That doesn’t mean an ED or addiction is a life sentence. Kind of like a relationship gone sour, you can either let that relationship dictate your narrative or you can view it as something that led you to become the person you are today. Recovery isn’t so much about getting back to normal as it is about the process of creating a new normal. In this new normal, the disorder or addiction is still a part of your story – it just is not the defining chapter.
Myth #2: Recovery is a set of definitive answers and a straight path to success.
Recovery is like taking three steps forward and two steps back. Then five steps forward and one step back. Then eight steps forward and four steps back. Over and over and over again. Until those steps back become smaller and smaller and smaller and eventually non-existent. No one formula works for everyone, and no one path is linear.
Myth #3: Recovery is all about changing what you DO.
Yes, your relationship with food, exercise, and your body desperately need to be healed – but you can’t To-Do-List away a paradigm shift.
For a good long while (think years), I did just enough to convince other people I was trying to get better. That I was trying to be the person I once was. It backfired really badly. I would eat in secret. I would not eat for an entire day – yes, even if I was hungry – in order to consume a large dinner and “show” people I was back to normal. I created rules, regulations, strategies, and stipulations that no one could see from the outside.
In reality, an eating disorder is NOT about the food. It’s never about the food. It’s about the mindset, the control, and a larger problem desperately trying to be fixed. The food, the substance, the exercise, WHATEVER it is, is symptomatic, not causative. Which is why saying things like Just Eat, Stop Eating, Don’t Exercise, or Don’t Drink aren’t just ineffective, they’re insensitive. It’s also why, as the person trying to recover, you can’t simply address the surface-level stuff and call it a day. The real healing happens in parts of your head and heart that no one can see.
Myth #4: After you recover from an eating disorder, you’ll never think a negative thought about your body again (but if you do, you’ve relapsed).
There is a difference between relapsing and being human. We all have up and down days when it comes to the way we feel about ourselves or what we see in the mirror. The difference between negative thoughts and a mental disorder is that with the latter, those negative thoughts dictate your every move and start to steal your voice, your space, and your life away. Like I’ve said before,youcan have moments of not liking your body but still loving your body. That’s normal. What’s not normal is when eating disorders steal the love away. Learning to create a new normal in life also means creating a new normal when it comes to how you deal with discomfort.
Myth #5: If you don’t look like you have a disorder, you don’t really have a problem.
LOLz to this ignorance. It’s not just young women – young, white, heterosexual, and middle/upper-class women, to be trope-specific – who develop eating disorders. It’s not just underweight people who are in danger. It’s not just those who have broken homes or relationship friction. Men, women, and non-binary folks of all ages, races, socioeconomic statuses, backgrounds, and body types can and DO develop eating disorders. All the time. To generalize is to deny a huge chunk of the population a chance at being seen.According toNEDA, “In the United States, 20 million women and 10 million men will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, or EDNOS (eating disorders not otherwise specified).” It’s not about what you or your life look like, it’s about what’s going on underneath. No one is immune to developing an eating disorder.
Myth #6: The hardest part of recovery is abstinence.
The hardest part of recovery isn’t necessarily when you’re first learning how to stay away from or replace the behaviors you once had. The hardest part of recovery can be when you think you’re on the right path and then get sneak-attacked by something you didn’t realize was a trigger. That’s why it’s called a trigger. You don’t see it coming and it hits. FAST. The recovery dance can feel like a risky one. Triggers everywhere. And not a lot to trust. But then again, building trust often times feels like the riskiest feeling of all. And just like building trust in a friendship or romance, the biggest risks reap the biggest rewards.
Myth #7: You need to be at your lowest low in order to seek out recovery
I read an eye-opening fact today onThe Endometrisis Coalition‘s Instagram account stating that the “Stage” of endometriosis doesn’t dictate the amount of pain the stage causes. Someone with Stage 2 endo can have more severe pain than someone with Stage 4 endo. I immediately thought of eating disorders and how, often times, people think they or their loved ones are not “bad enough” to need recovery. But just like with a chronic illness or a feeling of grief, no one person’s experience is more or less valid than anyone else’s. What’s going on underneath the surface is what counts – and if it’s affecting your life for the worse, it warrants intervention.
To be completely transparent, even though I technically fit the bill, I have a very hard time identifying with the word “recovered” and calling it a day. Because it barely scratches the surface. My “recovery” looks like way more than a Before And After photo (which is why you won’t be seeing any of those on WANT). It’s not that think the word, or concept rather, has gotten a bad rap…it’s just gotten the wrong rap.
To be “recovered,” by society’s standards, insinuates being saved by something or someone. And let me be clear: YOU NEED TO ASK FOR HELP. Call. Text. Reach out. Book the appointment. Have someone book it for you. Just involve others. Humans are community-driven creatures. We need each other, in our highest highs and lowest lows.
But no matter how much therapy you go to, treatment you have, or self-help books you read, the only person who can truly save you…is you. It’s a choice that comes about with a lot of support, but is spurred into action when you finally say no to your crutches and YES to your capabilities.
Let’s let go of the old ideas that we can get back to who we once were once upon a time. Let’s start to think of RECOVERY as it really is. Something better than once upon a time: becoming the you YOU know you’re meant to be.
Know someone who might need this miniseries? Forward it along and let them know you care.
Know someone who might be able to contribute something unique to the conversation? I’d LOVE to meet them. IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS GONE THROUGH AN ED/ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE ABUSE (**AND HAVE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERED), OR ARE AN EXPERT IN THE FIELD, shoot me an email at email@example.com and we can get to talking.
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Faking it is the worst. No, matter whether you’re feigning confidence in an interview or fighting off your impulse to hide from adult responsibilities or in the passionate midst of a NSFW sitch, “faking it” feels uncomfortable, guilt-riddled, and, well, fake.
Multiply this by a bajillion if you’re an introvert – and a bajillion more if you’ve just said yes to yet another social invite on the cal.
As an introvert, going to an event or getting yourself into a social situation “just because” is usually a set up for disaster, guilt, and low self-confidence.
So how do you avoid a meltdown…without avoiding a social life at the same time?
On one hand, you’re an introvert through and through…along with about half the population. You gain energy from within yourself instead of from interaction with others in the outside world. You need time to make decisions and mentally rehearse what you want to say, instead of making decisions quickly and thinking out loud.
Most importantly? You have a private self that is only revealed to your inner circle, the people you trust – which can make it hard to want to be social when you don’t know many people.
The people who don’t understand might peg you as aloof or shy.However, you know that shyness and introversion are not the same thing. Shyness is the fear of negative judgment, and introversion is a preference for quiet, minimally stimulating environments – your thoughts and ideas, the way you react to a piece of music or a string of words, that is stimulating enough. You do your best work in your head, with deep reflection. You are truly your own best friend.
On the other hand, just because you’re a bona-fide introvert doesn’t mean you want to shun socializing. And you know, introvert, that being your personality type doesn’t mean you’re necessarily quiet or shy.
As an introvert, you truly enjoy being around others and benefit most from deep connections. Small talk doesn’t really interest you, and the quantity of connections aren’t so much as important to you as the quality. You get high off of those instances that just seem to click – and even though you are at your best when given time alone, sometimes you feel your trait is shutting you off from a whole world that awaits.
We live in a culture that pays the most attention to extroversion: one that tells us that the signs of a thriving personal life are having a large social circle, bustling days filled with activity, and jam-packed nights filled with soirees.
In reality, we actually live in a culture that is FILLED with scenarios made for introverts, from one-on-one interactions to solo commutes to independent choices.
Pop culture caters to extroverts, so you may believe you’re the odd (wo)man out. But introverts are the ones who instinctively know how to navigate the deepest of waters in any social scenario. You’ll gain the most value from your social activities if you not only recognize your strengths, but find a purpose behind why you’re going. Because you, dear Introvert, have so much to add to the world, and every social situation can benefit from your insight and worldview. Introverts instinctively know how to navigate the deepest of waters in any social scenario. Click To Tweet
Here are 7 ways to stay social while still being true to who you are at your core – no faking required:
1.) Enjoy the silence. As an introvert, bustling parties and crowded rooms can be overwhelming – making you shy away from those situations altogether. There will be times, though, you cannot avoid being in the middle of the action or simply don’t want to opt out of every invitation.
Intersperse moments of silence throughout your day, and bookend the event with silence as well. Knowing that you’ll be able to decompress in peace is vital and prevents panic from setting in when you feel like you can’t get away from the literal and metaphorical noise.
2.) Redefine “networking” as “friend-netting.” Don’t worry – I shudder at the thought of “networking,” too. And when you’ve got work functions to attend or mixers you’ve said yes to, it’s easy to feel like a fish out of water.
Instead of focusing on the quantity of people you meet or conversations you have, relish in those one or two meaningful conversations or connections. Instead of networking, find the one or two people that you can devote your focus and attention to. My fiance calls this “friend-netting.” The chances are very slim you’re the only introvert at the party – even if it feels like it at times. Use your killer instinct to find your fellow introverts and maybe even bond over your shared trait.
3.) Ask active questions. One of your strengths is what a wonderful listener you are – and most people love to talk about themselves (not a bad thing – we all love to talk about things we feel we have expertise in, and who is a better expert of ourselves than…ourselves?). Avoid small talk by asking open-ended questions to people you meet, listening carefully, offering up a little piece of information about yourself to form a connection, then ask another question based off the last answer.
For example, instead of asking where someone is from or if they’re been to this person’s party before or if they like the weather or whatever (all of which usually only involve a single word answer), ask how long they’ve lived in your town, how they first met the host, or what they usually do for or love about whatever season you’re in.
4.) Know your yesses – and your nos. What are the qualities you enjoy in an event? What are the things that drain you? Maybe you become anxious and tired at night, but enjoy daytime or afternoon events. Maybe you’re a night owl but any social scenario that takes place before noon makes you cranky. Maybe you don’t bat an eye at parties hosted at someone’s home, but clubs and bars give you goosebumps in a bad way. Know your preferred times of day, locations, days of the week, and other details so that you can make an informed decision about whether to attend or not. If the nos outweigh the yesses by more than two thirds (or even one half), opt out and pat yourself on the back for knowing yourself so well.
5.) Go with a like-minded friend. As an introvert, it’s in your nature to shy away when you sense a highly extroverted personality taking the spotlight. What’s frustrating is not the person herself, it’s that you end up feeling like you’ve put your own personality on hold in order to accommodate someone else – which is usually never an extrovert’s intention to begin with.
Going with a like-minded friend not only evens out the playing field when you’re in group conversations, it ensures you’ll have at least one person to bond with in merriment. Hey, you can even go with a trusted extrovert who gets you and can help take the pressure off being “on.”
6.) Do the coordination yourself. Whether it’s offering up the location of your lunch spot or diving deep and hosting your own soiree, taking charge of the coordination is a secret tool of introverts. If you’re coordinating, it not only gives you a say in choosing an environment/guest list that suits your comfort level (say, a unique hole-in-the-wall coffee shop instead of a loud trendy restaurant). It gives you a sense of purpose…which is key for an introvert’s social fulfillment.
7.) Cut yourself some slack. As author Elaine Aron says in her book The Highly Sensitive Person (someone who is extremely easily affected by their surroundings and emotions – another personality type you very well might possess as an introvert. I do!), everyone is a bit awkward at their non-specialty.
If you find yourself in the middle of small talk or a conversation you’re flubbing up…if you’re slowly gravitating toward the corner and hugging the punch table…ease up on your self-judgement. Your speciality isn’t small talk or big groups, it’s deep conversations and making a small group or one-on-one interaction feel like it’s the biggest, most important interaction there is. And that’s a gift you should never overlook.
Worst case scenario? You get to people watch. And every introvert knows that is a goldmine.
On one hand… you’ve got creativity running through your bloodstream. You think outside the box and see the world as one big art project waiting to happen. Whether you’re the kind of creative who writes, draws, sings, sews, photographs, or simply has a right-brained mind that just won’t quit, you have a unique way of looking at life that serves you in any situation.
On the other hand… a girl’s gotta eat. Five (or more) days a week, you do the work to pay the bills, and have a job you’re plugging away at – maybe even a full-blown career you’re carving out for yourself. You’re no stranger to the so-called daily grind: the traffic-jammed commute, the stressors of your job, the responsibilities that loom over your head as you hustle at work. Whether you are in love with your job or are just trying to get by, there’s one question most creative types have in common when it comes to the daily grind: do I have to give up my identity as an artist just to fit in?
Just because you’re a working girl doesn’t mean that you have to squash your creative impulses. If you’re not used to singing your own praises, this is a really good time to start: you have a special, visionary way of viewing the world that not only serves you, but serves all those around you.
Whether your daily grind is in an artistic field or not, here are four ways to honor your creative work, your 9-5 work…and still end the day feeling like you can do it all, just as you are:
• FIND THE LESSONS. If you’re the creative type, you probably love the process of learning and exploring new ideas or situations. Think back on when you were in school: each class was about learning something new, applying your knowledge, and then proving you’ve got it on lockdown. You might have had to play by the teacher’s rules in the classroom, but when it came to how you finished your homework or the way you studied for a test, that was all up to you. School, even though it’s usually about textbooks and facts, is actually the place a creative can shine.
Your daily work grind is exactly like going to school every day. Start to view each little project, meeting, task, or segment of your day as a lesson and ask yourself: what can I learn from this? If you’re always looking for the lessons, you’re always taking away something new, building your tool chest of skills and knowledge for whatever life throws at you, in or out of the office.
• BE ALL THERE. This is one of my biggest tips when people ask me about staying focused while tackling multiple workloads. Oftentimes as creatives we spend time trying to do everything at once – we like to think that our creativity means we can and should be multitasking mavens. But have you ever noticed that when you’re focusing on all the things, you end up getting none of the things to the place you’d like them to be?
You might have a side creative project, another outlet outside of work where your artistry lives, or maybe your 9-5 involves a mix of creativity and strategy. Whatever your situation may be, make the lines between each project or pursuit crystal-clear for yourself. And be all there. Whatever job you are doing or task you are working on, give your 100% focus to that activity and that activity alone. You can’t be in two places at once, literally or figuratively. And by trying, you’re not only producing a fraction of your highest-quality work – you’re constantly reminding yourself that you’re not doing something you “should” be doing. Give that laser-like creative focus you’ve been blessed with to everything you do, one task at a time…even if what you’ve got in front of you seems tedious or out of your happiness-zone. You’ll gain immense satisfaction from knowing you gave it your all – and you’ll have a full tank of creative juices just waiting to be used on your next adventure once the first one’s done.
• REMEBER YOUR THROUGH LINE. Your through line is the common theme in everything you love and the common goal in everything you do. For those of us creatives who have both a “typical” job and a creative endeavour (see cautionary note here about using the terms Day Job and Side Hustle), it can sometimes feel like only the latter is allowed to speak to who we are and why we’re here. Determine your through line here, then ask yourself how you can implement it in whatever work you’re doing. Once you find your through line, it’s easier to see that being a creative isn’t so much about what you do but why and how you do it.
• SEE YOUR VALUE. You, Little Ms. Creative, are an out-of-the-box, solutions-oriented person. But it can be tough to remember that when the daily grind takes over. Whether you’re stuck in traffic, returning phone calls, filling out spreadsheets, or following rules to a T, sometimes it can seem like the working world is not set up to be all that kind to creative types like you.
What you’re forgetting is what an asset you are to your peers and colleagues. While facts and procedures are important, there is nothing more valuable that someone who can look at the big picture and offer up creative, innovative solutions or alternatives that transcend the day-to-day. Make it a goal to look at the day not as an obstacle you need to overcome, but an experience you get to shape simply by being you.
Liked this? Listen to it – along with more personal stories about being a daily grindin’ creative – here.
WANT Yourself: Do you consider yourself a creative? How do you make your daily grind work for you, no matter what your daily grind looks like? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
I’m no stranger to sweat therapy: I hit the gym on the regular. My running shoes are practically a second set of feet. I’ve never been one to turn down a chance to get down (dog) – heck, I’ve been teaching spin classes since people thought it meant you go to a class and turn around in circles for 45 minutes on end (for real. people used to ask me if that was what a spin class was).
I’m well aware of both the physical and mental benefits of getting my heart rate up on the regular, and consider fitness more of a lifestyle habit than a to-do to get to-done.
So why, then, do I wake up some mornings feeling like the last thing I want to do is get moving?
According to catchy headlines and fly-by-night trends, we’re supposed to sweat it out the same way no matter the season: with intensity, with drive, and with an all-or-nothing mentality that promises slimmer thighs!, better sex!, and brighter moods! 365 days a year. We force ourselves into routines for the sake of routines, not taking into account that we are living, breathing, changing beings who experience enough physical, emotional, and spiritual shifts in a mere day to fill up a week’s worth of SoulCycle classes by 12:01pm on a Monday afternoon.
Study after study shows us that exercise can boost our mood, help our bodies clear out toxins, and make even the most everyday of activities seem a whole lot easier (hello, five-story walk up apartment). But when you’re feeling fatigued, uninspired, or just plaindown-in-the-slumps, scientific facts don’t help all that much. And the “accountability” factor of having a class to make or a trainer to see isn’t always a surefire recipe to get amped up.
The solution: You’ve got to make your workout work out for you.
I’ve definitely struggled with this sincemoving across the country. Not only was I not used to the seasonal shifts, but I had to completely restructure my schedule, top to bottom. This definitely included the way I moved. I loved exercising outside, which I didn’t have many opportunities to do in LA – one point, NYC! The gym was also a huge part of my community on the west coast, and I found that the NYC gyms where I felt that were NOT the ones that were the closest to my house. And then there was rain, there was snow, and there was that huge dramatic shift in early November when I didn’t even want to leave the house let alone break a sweat. Thankfully, ten months in, I’ve figured out my roadblocks and how to move through them in order to get moving.
Feeling blah? I feel you – and there’s no need to letnegative self-talk stand in your way. Here are five ways to set yourself up for success and motivate yourself to exercise, no matter how you feel:
1) Give yourself options. Ever notice that the more often you do something extreme, the more your body starts to want its next hit? It’s kind of like that with fitness. When it comes to working out on a down day, it’s important to feed your cravings, not your addictions. That could mean foregoing your usual five-mile run for a meditative walk in the park. That could mean modifying your burpees in your HIIT sesh so there’s no push-up involved. That could mean trading in plank for child’s pose. Knowing you have options within the workout you choose removes that all-or-nothing feeling and gives your body what it actually wants (feeds the craving) vs. what you think it SHOULD be wanting (feeding the addiction).
2) Have a Plan A…Plan B…Plan C….Plan D… I love to run outside. But I know myself, and there are certain situations in which even the most persuasive person I know (hi mom) wouldn’t be able to convince me to haul you-know-what out in the open air. If you’ve learned how to psych yourself to run in brutal heat, icky rain, or I-can’t-feel-my-face cold, more power to you. Me? That’s a big NOPE in my book.
In the past, I’d either force myself to brave the elements or skip out altogether. Not only was the former potentially dangerous and the latter a surefire way to make me a crankypants for the rest of the day, but neither of those options had to be the solutions! Now I know to always have a Plan A, B, C, even a Plan D for making my workout work for me. Running outside not an option? Use the treadmill. All the treads already taken at the gym? Hop on an elliptical. No cardio equipment available whatsoever – or it’s just too miserable to leave the house in the first place? Say hello to my fave,customizable self-confidence boosting workout. Having multiple options at the ready, I’ve found, ensures I can make a decision that’s right for me no matter the circumstance.
3) Wear what makes you feel good. Many fitness pros and motivational coaches will recommend that a surefire way to get amped to work out is wear a rockin’ piece of fitnesswear. And that’s solid advice. Heck, a whole activewear revolution is happening because of that exact school of thought!
The problem is, sometimes that’s not what actually makes us feel our best – especially if we’re feeling uncomfortable in our own skin. When I’m feeling down on myself and physically uncomfortable, I wear clothes that have a little more “give” to them. Sometimes, I throw on my fiancé’s old t-shirt and call it a day. Point is: if your fitnesswear best makes you feel rockin’, rock on! But if an old concert tee and stretchy pants from 2008 make you feel great, that’s great too. It’s much easier to get in a productive – and pleasant – workout when you’re less concerned with the way you look and more invested in the way you feel.
4) Make playlist presents for yourself. When I find music I love, I become borderline obsessed. So muchso, in fact, that I’ll listen to an entire album or playlist on repeat for weeks, then move onto another set of songs for another few weeks after that. And so on, and so on. That first time I listen is always the most exciting – so what I’ve learned to do is create a playlist for myself (or download an entire album on Spotify) and promise myself not to listen until my next workout. This works with playlists, genre “stations” on Spotify or Pandora (I’m all about the “90s Smash Hits” right now), even podcasts. Giving yourself something to look forward to within the workout setting is a great way to trick yourself into putting the work in and having a blast in the moment.
5) Give it a REST. Okay, so this one might seem counter-intuitive…rest to motivate yourself to exercise? Isn’t this a recipe for a negative talk spiral? Actually, it’s the exact opposite. I’m not talking about resting when you’ve got adrenal fatigue or are overtraining – which, obviously, require rest. I’m talking about letting yourself off the hook. If you’re constantly pressuring yourself to “be motivated,” how will you ever get there? Just like with food, your decision to exercise (or not exercise) is not good or bad – it just IS. Yes, sometimes it’s necessary to just get up and do it even when you’d rather be binge watching Orange Is The New Black on your couch. But at the same time, it’s necessary to train yourself to cut yourself some slack. How can we ever develop a healthy relationship with our body if we’re constantly putting the pressure on it to look, act, and do things a certain way? In my experience, this is a breeding ground for guilt and exercise addiction. Give yourself the space to breathe – you might be surprised by what happens when you start to approach exercise as one of many opportunities to feel good, not one sole chance or obligation to do things the “right” way.
WANT YOURSELF: Now, you: I’d love to hear how you motivate yourself to exercise when you’re just not feeling it. Is there a specific trick you’ve got up your sleeve? Is there a song or playlist you’ve go that gets you going no matter what? Leave a comment below – your sweat-positive strategy might be exactly what someone else needs to get them spinning in the right direction. Literally or figuratively ;)