Grounding in 2021

I have written about running in the past, and my view is still the same. Running is an activity that helps me focus on the present. I have to pay attention to my surroundings to stay safe from oncoming traffic and crowded footpaths. I have to pay attention to the weather. I certainly need to pay attention to the road so that I don’t slip or trip on a broken branch. I tend to focus on the future or dwell on past events, so running helps break this pattern by bringing me into the present.

Being present, being in the present, has recently become quite difficult given the uncertainty in my life. While I’ve become accustomed to a new level of not knowing – I wouldn’t say I’m comfortable, or rather my tolerance levels have increased. I’m experiencing anxiety in a way that I haven’t experienced in the past. So finding activities that keep me grounded has become a priority in my life rather than an afterthought.

So I’m actually making time to do more of what keeps me mentally healthy and grounded. This month I’m challenging myself to stick to a running schedule. Two weeks in, so far so good. The semester hasn’t started so I’ve got time to establish some good habits. My aim is to keep this grounding a priority and not to let work get in the way. Staying grounded is longer a option but a need.

7 days into 2021

It’s a new year and already I feel the need to lie down and throw the covers over my head. Like many of my family and friends, this mixture of feeling overwhelmed by uncertainty, anxiety about the future, and disappointment in how selfish society is – it’s a bit much. I’m not sure what I want to express in this blog. What I do feel is I hope it’s a space I can use that isn’t tied to my professional life. Less promo about work and more space for me. This pandemic has helped me realise how much of my life is centred around work, how much energy I put into it, and how much I’ve neglected my own mental and physical health. So this space is now less about the academic side of me and more, well , the other parts that I don’t actually get to put into words. I suppose this is my 2021 resolution. Amidst all this chaos I’d like to find my centre through some writing. So here we go.

There’s been a lot in the news and I’m not going to focus on that today. My intention, instead, is looking at what I’m able to control in my life, as of this moment. For example, today I’ve started the Quiet Journal by Suan Cain. I’m a fan of her book, Quiet, that focuses on introversion and what that means. This new book is a kind of guide, I think, for readers to apply the concepts and ideas discussed in Quiet. Today I started on the journal prompts and gave myself some time to think and write about things that weren’t work related. And that time felt well spent. I’m not sure where I’ll be going with this guide but my overall intention is to devote more time and energy on my life outside of work, and this is one choice I made for myself today.

Hand made anxiety

Well the title is a bit misleading. I am using my hands to make things, just not ‘making anxiety’. I suppose ‘the act of making stuff by hand is my current way of dealing with anxiety’ isn’t that snappy a title, but it is the focus of this post.

I learned to knit this year. A friend got a bunch of us together and convinced us to try knitting. I tried it, was hooked, and haven’t looked back since. Knitting is usually associated with lonely old women, grandmothers (not the same thing) or hippy earth-mother types. At least that was my impression. Was I ever WRONG on all accounts. It’s a brilliant hobby and one that has helped me manage my stress and anxiety in surprising ways.

When I knit, I’m focused on knitting. In the now, and on the thing I’m making. It feels like a break. A long, proper break from the anxiety I feel about work and life (mostly work, but that’s another time). I’ve got several projects on the go, so the struggle for me is to slow down and take the time to enjoy the process. I tend to focus on finishing rather than taking it slow and taking it in. I should be enjoying the ‘break’ but I find old habits die hard: the need to complete things. The need to finish. The need to accomplish something. To do something useful. To have something to show – It’s not easy to untangle (heh heh) all these inadequacies, but I’m learning. Slowly. One bit of wool at a time, I suppose.

It feels good to make things with my hands. In the end, that’s what matters to me. That feeling of a proper break.