8 Things to do when in a rut (aka summer 2015, weeks 3-5)

Things done in the past few weeks:

– Formally scattered grandma’s ashes and performed the traditional paper money burning, if only out of respect for her and not really because my mom or I actually believe in it
– Tons and tons of swimming
– Planning and recording for my YouTube channel
– Eating, shopping, movie watching, and sightseeing with family
– Enjoying quiet moments in this crowded, hot, muggy city in local libraries, book stores, and coffee shops
– Cleaned out cabinets and reorganized some things
– Lost my iPhone 6 ūüė¶
– Got a replacement Xiao Mi, which has it’s cool features, but just isn’t the same

It might be a combination of what I call ‘heat-midity’ – the oppressive tropical summer – and the loss of my phone that I’ve kind of fallen into a rut lately. The rut of not really wanting to go anywhere or do anything. I still go and do – my brain overcomes my body’s inertia by convincing it that I should utilize the time with my family wisely, to take advantage of the no-sales-tax shopping, and of course the gorgeous pool and clubhouse at my parent’s place here.

But the thing is: I don’t WANT to. I would very much like to hang out in my air-conditioned home all day, reading books and re-watching Downton Abbey. That feeling of ‘bleh’ bordering a depressive mood. Here are some things I do to help combat that feeling:

1.¬†Sleep. My bed here is as hard as a tile floor, barely 5 feet long and 3 feet wide. It’s a kiddie bed. That combined with a closed stuffiness that nearly all of the teeny tiny bedrooms in Hong Kong have, it makes for some tossing and turning at night. I took several naps during the day today – two of them on a bus – and felt a whole lot better for them.

2.¬†Hydrate. I have a very bad habit of not drinking water for long periods of time, and then chugging quarts of it all at once. I blame it on the fact that my job makes me go to the bathroom according to a bell schedule. Added to that, the constant dampness here makes me go ‘elurgh’ at most drinks, even if a drink of water is what my body needs the most. On the upside: with an increased number of air-con shopping malls it’s that much easier to find a clean, western toilet now, even in the most remote parts of New Territories.

3. Eat. Preferably something healthy. My go-to snack this summer has been frozen pineapple slices. Whether fresh or canned, wrap them individually in plastic wrap (or pop them in ziplock baggies Рwhich is more environmentally friendly, as you can wash, dry, and reuse them afterwards), stick them in the freezer overnight, and voila! A refreshing popsicle that will beat the heat-midity better even than ice cream.

4. But if you really crave chocolate or something salty-crunchy then go for it! This may also be a sign that I’m PMSing, now that I think of it…

5.¬†Exercise. My favorite form this summer? Swimming! I throw in some yoga and pilates while in the water as well. And yes, I’ve been getting some curious looks from other swimmers while I do asanas and the Hundred underwater. I’m sure I look funny. But I’m also one step closer to successfully getting a head/handstand position! It’s so much easier to do in the water, and I bet my lung capacity expands a little everyday.

6.¬†TCOTD, ‘Take Care Of The Details.’ My little acronym for doing the little things that make a big difference. All the daily chores and routines that wouldn’t be a big deal on a normal day if accidentally overlooked, or skipped due to a time crunch. However, if done on days when my mood is on a down swing, they make me feel that much more human. So make the bed properly. Do the entire skincare routine – cleanse, tone, treat, moisturize. Put on makeup – not just a swipe of CC cream but the whole kit and caboodle: cushion foundation, eye shadow, lipstick, powder to set the whole look and absorb the extra oil. Give myself a manicure. Do the laundry, including sheets. Put my clothes away properly. Clean my shoes. Clean my laptop keyboard. Organize my bag and wallet. Dust, sweep, and mop into the deepest nooks and crannies. Get out of those pajamas, take a long shower, put on that nice lotion. Wear nice clothes, including jewelry, even if I don’t end up going out at all. If I had my set of essential oils I would do a bit of aromatherapy as well.

7. Take a break from brainless imagery. Meaning, turn off that TV that you left on for background noise. Stop scrolling through that Facebook feed + Pinterest + Tumblr + Instagram, ::insert your social media of choice here::. Shut down that Candy Crush or other video game. Go and do #1-6.

8.¬†Do something mindful Do something, and only that one thing. Related to #7 above so much that I almost wrote this item together with it. But it’s slightly different. There’s shutting down for a short media fast. And then there’s picking up something to be down with deliberation. The latter can be done with technology, or without. I also do mindful things a bit differently from all the other internet mindfulness gurus that I’ve seen. The closest description that other people call it is to do one thing at a time. But not really. I’ve tried to meditate like the way those gurus tell you to, but I always ended up fidgeting, or dozing off – which told me that what I really needed to do was to get some exercise, or sleep. I do something mindful after I have made certain that I’m fresh and awake, and not in need of a stretch break. I prepare my mind for it, telling myself that I’m going to focus on this one thing right now and nothing else. I block out some time – any amount will do, from a few seconds to minutes to hours, or even the whole day. I spend that time doing. One. Single. Thing. At. A. Time. It can be done slowly like reading a book. It can be done quickly, like drinking an entire glass of water. But I only do that thing, and I focus on it with all I have. If I’m baking, I’m¬†only baking. I’m not watching TV at the same time. If I’m drinking an entire glass of water, I focus on the movements of my throat muscles and the water – the taste, the temperature. This sounds a bit weird, but I look at the glass or mug while I’m drinking, taking in the color and texture of it.

I admit that I don’t do #8 very often, nor for very long. It is very time consuming. But it’s the second most effective method of getting myself out of a rut.

9.¬†Get spiritual nourishment.¬†Pray. Read some scripture. Pray. Listen to a sermon podcast. Pray. Watch a sermon online. Pray. Listen to some worship music. Oh yeah, and pray. I usually do this in the manner of #8. This is the first most effective way of getting myself out of a rut. Yet, I don’t actually do this all that often either.

Still more to learn and improve upon, I suppose. Never finished. Which can be a good thing.

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