A Menu of Rest

I wrote a few days ago that if you can find a way to let it rest, your mind will use that time to heal.

It still sometimes frustrates me when people suggest I do things I enjoy. “I don’t enjoy almost anything! You think it’s that easy?!” If you can, go for it. If you can’t, don’t worry about it. Just try to do things that don’t make you more miserable. Those are the things that will help you rest.

Here’s an incomplete menu of ways to let your mind rest.

Video Games: I have friends who swear by the healing power of video games. Whether it’s a quick one on your phone to soothe you in the morning or hours of World of Warcraft in the afternoon, video games are just engaging enough to get your mind off other things, which can be a huge relief.

Repetitive Tasks: I had a job in college putting little plastic things into little plastic holes in a research lab. It was heaven. I was able to completely zone out, something my brain desperately needed at the time. For me, what works one year won’t work the next. The trick is finding the thing that works for you and discarding the things that don’t. Cooking, knitting, driving, and cleaning are all good options.

Soothing Music: I’ll have a menu of music coming soon. I recommend a Yo-Yo Ma Pandora channel, as well as Django Reinhardt.

Things That Make You Focus: Think about skills you’ve developed in the past – fixing cars? musical instruments? computer programming? These are things that engage the mind in a gentle way – things over which you have control.

Reading: Check out my menu of books that are engaging without being super sad.

Meditating: Once you get the hang of it (I haven’t, but I have really benefited from trying), this is probably the ultimate form of rest for the mind. I’m reviewing guided meditations now and will be posting a menu soon. In the meantime, if you’re new to it, try just one or five minutes at a time, and try to do it once a day.

Sleep: Nightmares, insomnia, and sleeping all the time can be a huge problem for people who are feeling low. Try to figure out the amount of sleep that your body finds restorative – the amount that helps avoid nightmares (which often happen after falling back to sleep when you first wake up in the morning), and doesn’t leave you sleeping all day. This could be five hours or it could be ten. Sleeping is ok. Go ahead and do it if you can, if you want, and if you think it’s helping.

More: Being just one in a room of comfortable people watching tv, being just one in a comfortable room by yourself watching tv, Wikipedia surfing, documentaries about animals, walks, browsing recipes, learning about things that don’t matter to your life, like how leatherworkers do what they do.

A day cleaning my house in my pajamas used to make me think I was sliding backwards. Now (if I remember) I might even congratulate myself for it. I found a way to rest ALL day. Nice.

If you don’t hate it, do it. Chances are it’s giving your mind a chance to rest and heal.

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