Trisha Tries: Meditating for One Week

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My first week of work in 2021 was… stressful. I was off between Christmas and New Year, and definitely settled into my daily routine of waking up in the late afternoon and doing whatever I wanted. Because of this, transitioning back into work was jarring! And not to mention other current events happening at the same time! I wanted to crawl back into my bed and never leave!

Back when I could go into the office, I actually used to meditate a lot during my work breaks. On nice days, I would go to a nearby park and sit in the sun; on not-so-nice days, common in New England, I would retreat to an empty conference room. It was a great way to clear my mind on particularly stressful or tedious days, and I almost always returned to my desk with more focus.

However, it’s been difficult to work meditation into my new, perpetual work-from-home routine. I’ve been using my breaks during the day to exercise (which is still a good mental break, but doesn’t quite have the same effect) and have never really dedicated time outside of work hours to meditate.

Because I was so stressed out after my first week of 2021, for the next week, I decided to purposely take time out of my day every day to take a meditation break to see if that would cure my mental ails.

My week of meditation went well! I ended up different amounts of time off at least once a day during the week, ranging from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Most of the time was spent with silence or playing relaxing music, though I did do some guided meditations on particularly distracted days.

One major change during this week was that work felt a lot less stressful. However, it was admittedly difficult for me to pin this result specifically on meditation. I work in customer service, where my workload depends heavily on people asking questions, and perhaps that second week had a lower volume of submitted tickets. Maybe they were easier tickets. Maybe I had more time to clear my queue. Who knows! Either way, this was a welcome change.

My favorite takeaway from meditating was not anything about my current work specifically, but about the future. I spent a lot of my meditation time thinking about where and how I want to move forward in my career, and was able to make more actionable, concrete plans to meet those goals. Sure, I may have found time to reflect outside of meditating, but it was nice to have that time carved out for my brain to wander and find the connections organically.

Additionally, my mindset toward work shifted as well. While this may be due to the week being less busy overall, I do think that part of this is due to meditation as well. I am the type of person that can work well under stress, but I can also burn out quickly after being on overdrive. When things feel high alert for too long, that burn out only gets more intense, and it continues even after things have cooled down.

Because of this, meditating helped me step away from and reframe my current workload to realize that things weren’t as busy as they were before and that I didn’t have to put as much pressure on myself anymore. I was able to stop scrambling and handle new questions with grace and calmness, instead of being shocked and strained by every new thing that came in. A good mindset for work – but also a good mindset for life as well!

After my week of meditation was up, I admit that I haven’t taken time out to meditate again. I’ve fallen back into my old habits of exercising or tidying up during my work breaks, which are still productive and meditative in their own ways, but not the strict habit that I had set for myself previously.

However, as I write this post out, I wonder if I should pick this habit back up. I completely acknowledge that meditation is best done consistently, done during the good times and the bad, but I’ve never been able to set up a constant “streak” outside of this single week. Moving forward, I will likely never meditate daily, but I will continue to look for more nooks and crannies in my schedule to fit sessions in, even if they’re just quick ones!

Mental Health October: Exercise and Body Image

In the summer of 2008, I was on vacation with my family at Disney World. After a long day at the parks, I spent every moment we had in the hotel room watching the Beijing Olympics. This is when I fell in love with watching gymnastics!

I remember watching Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin and the rest of the women’s team absolutely destroy their events – doing flips! spins! splits! tumbles! the rest! (I don’t know gymnastics terms!) I was enthralled! I wanted to be as strong as them, fly through the air like them, be as confident as them, the whole thing!

While watching one night, one of my family members commented on how chubby the girls looked. Why were they wearing leotards when their legs were so fat? If they worked out so much, why weren’t they all skinny?

My brain started short-circuiting. They’re some of the strongest athletes in the world! It’s all muscle! They responded, Eh, is it worth being so strong if they look so chunky? I wouldn’t want to look that heavy.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to reckon with these conflicting values. Do I want to be strong and healthy? Or do I want to look thin and “beautiful”, according to traditional values?

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Mental Health October: Spiraling

One bad mental habit that I often fall into accidentally is spiraling.

You know the like: if I don’t finish this problem set, then I won’t understand the material, and if I don’t know the material, I’ll fail the exam, and if I fail the exam, I’ll fail the class, and if I fail the class, I’ll fail out of school, and if I fail out of school, I’ll be saddled with thousands of dollars of debt without an degree, blah blah blah…

This habit can become very stressful very quickly, and is almost never productive or useful. It’s truly just a waste of time and energy!

As hard as I try, I can’t stop my spiraling thoughts entirely – but I can become more aware of when they pop up and work hard to fend them off. I’ve learned some of these tactics in therapy, and tried others based off of my own research on the internet – read about them below!

Continue reading “Mental Health October: Spiraling”