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Keep Calm (and practice self-care)

Enjoy these recommendations on resources to stay help you stay calm, emotionally balanced, and resilient during these strange, strange times. Expect the business-, marketing-, and freelancing-focused letters to resume on ~Friday.

These are the tools and resources I use in my business life (and personal life) to help me keep calm and copacetic when I’m processing any of the hundreds of stressors in a week, like:

  • Preparing for a meeting or call
  • Dealing with a project failing/succeeding
  • Working with #AnxietyBrain when I’m writing a proposal or sending a hard email

Meditation

I’m a relative newcomer to building a Meditation habit (~2 years). In that short amount of time, meditation has become one of my most precious habits, hobbies, and self-care tools.

I’m proud to say that I have a meditation streak that’s>200 days long. Every day, I make time for a ~10 minute sit in the morning to calm the mind for the day. And that’s after 32 years of thinking to myself ‘Man, having a meditation habit would be nice. Eh, that’s probably really hard.’

Recommendation: Start meditating. Calm.com makes building and strengthening a meditation habit easy.

For starting, building, or strengthening your meditation habit, I enthusiastically recommend Calm.com for your meditation needs. Their guided meditations (and daily ~10-minute meditation) make building a meditation habit very graceful.

Journaling

Taking the time to write down what you’re feeling about something in your business (e.g., a client, a project, a worry, a proposal, an unanswered email) is a great way to get the worry out of your head and onto paper.

I’ve found that writing ~3 pages each morning is a great way to get centered and clear my mind for the day ahead. Or to start thinking through a stressful situation.

For tooling, you can use whatever works best to help you write. I use a mixture of Notion.so (business/workday journal) and a paper notebook (personal/life journal).

Stretching/yoga

Yoga (and stretching) have been in my toolbox for years, but it’s only recently that I’ve come back to them to help me keep calm or work with strong feelings.

See, at the ripe age of 34 your friend Kai learned that they’re called feelings because we feel them physically. And a great way to work with strong feelings is to:

  • Say to yourself “I am feeling [insert emotion here]”
  • Identify in your body where you’re feeling it (Head? Neck? Shoulders? Heart? Big or small? Hot or cold? Heavy or light?)
  • Pay attention to that physical sensation in your body. Check-in with your body and see what it needs.

(That works with positive emotions just as well as it does with negative emotions)

Often, for me, an excellent way to address a strong emotion my body is feeling is to stretch or do some Yoga.

There are many great resources to start or build a yoga practice. A great free option is YouTube’s Yoga Videos (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=yoga+videos).

I’ve started to use <glo.com>, which offers unlimited access to yoga and pilates videos for $18/month. It’s an excellent service, and it has a vast library of videos for different skill levels or needs.

Stoicism

Stoicism helped me get through a few very challenging experiences. Stoicism has been an excellent resource for helping me increase my mental resiliency and deal with the changes that life brings.

If you’re looking for mental calmness, composure, or evenness of temper during these times, I strongly recommend Stoicism for you, dear reader.

One great, short book is “The Manual: A Philosopher’s Guide to Life.” https://www.amazon.com/dp/1545461112. Here’s

Epictetus (c. 50-135 CE) was brought as a slave to Rome, where he became a great teacher, deeply influencing the future emperor Marcus Aurelius among many others. His philosophy, Stoicism, was practical, not theoretical–aimed at relieving human suffering here and now.

And the Stoicism book I most strongly recommend is “How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius,” written by a cognitive psychotherapist.

There are many stoicism books out there, and “How to think…” is the one that I found the most approachable and helpful. I consider it both a good starting point and a great continuation of your Stoic practice.

Here’s the description of “How to think…” from Goodreads:

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think Like a Roman Emperor , cognitive psychotherapist Donald Robertson weaves the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius together seamlessly to provide a compelling modern-day guide to the Stoic wisdom followed by countless individuals throughout the centuries as a path to achieving greater fulfillment and emotional resilience.

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor takes readers on a transformative journey along with Marcus, following his progress from a young noble at the court of Hadrian—taken under the wing of some of the finest philosophers of his day—through to his reign as emperor of Rome at the height of its power. Robertson shows how Marcus used philosophical doctrines and therapeutic practices to build emotional resilience and endure tremendous adversity and guides readers through applying the same methods to their own lives.

It’s a great book. I listened to (and loved) the audiobook via Audible. Here are your links:

Talking about it with a friend

Having someone (or many someones) you can talk to about the stressors in your life makes a huge difference. I’ve been fortunate enough to take part in many mastermind groups over the past ~5 years.

Having someone you can reach out to who can understand what you’re experiencing can make a huge difference.

Therapy

I’ve long been an advocate for therapy as a resource for mental health or dealing with stress. I think of seeing a therapist as similar to hiring a personal trainer:

  • Person Trainer -> Helps you optimize your workout for health + strength + flexibility
  • Therapist -> Helps you optimize your brain and emotions for health + strength + flexibility

Nature walks

When I’m stressed or anxious, I try and get out of the office/house and take a walk in nature / near some trees / to a park. It has real benefits: https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/sour-mood-getting-you-down-get-back-to-nature.

Block the easy distractions

It’s amazing how checking Twitter/Facebook/News/Slack/etc. can form a grove in your brain. If you’ve even found your hands opening a new tab and starting to type twitter.com or news.google.com, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

I use freedom.to/ to block websites, apps, and the internet. It is a great piece of software and has both a free plan and a paid plan. If you want to keep your attention and focus, I strongly recommend you investigate freedom.to/

Now, a pair of questions for you:

  • What’s in your self-care/keeping calm toolbox?
  • What’s your go-to resource or activity for staying calm in work or life?

Tap reply and let me know.

Excelsior!

Kai

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