I took the month of July mostly off from work. I did a few client sessions, and posted a recipe or two, but mostly, I enjoyed time with my family and friends. During this time I did a lot of thinking about new directions I’d like to take personally and professionally — it was an incredible luxury and I was able to see some subtle signs of inspiration.
Physical nourishment is not an area I struggle much with — I enjoy eating well, I love to move, my gut seems pretty healthy, and I mostly avoid toxins. But I’ve come to realize I don’t do very well with emotional nourishment. The idea of emotional nourishment as it pertains to my life is still fairly vague, but I was introduced to the general concept while listening to a podcast interview with Tom Bilyeu. My initial reaction to the idea of emotional nourishment was “obviously, we need to attend to our inner mental health and our emotional, spiritual world, but I do fine with that.” However, as I’ve pondered this concept further, it’s become increasingly clear that I kind of ignore my emotional health. I’ve never felt particularly emotional, so I think I just take it for granted that I don’t need to invest much energy in managing or interpreting my emotions. There are things I do to promote mental health: I take a couple of supplements in the winter to stave off SAD, I try to get outside as much as possible, I workout or take walks to think about things when I’m struggling or I’ll talk it out with my partner, a family member, or friend. But when a situation is less than ideal emotionally, I tend to numb out a bit and try to knuckle through it — it’s a maladaptive tendency. I’ve also realized I have no real “routine maintenance” for when things are good and I don’t have a go-to method of upgrading my mental and emotional wellbeing. To address this now obvious deficiency in my lifestyle, I’ve decided to spend the next 150 days, the remaining days of 2017, focused on emotional and mental nourishment via the following daily actions:
Meditation. Ask anyone who is at the pinnacle of life and they will likely tell you the number one thing we can do to improve our mental and emotional functioning is to meditate. Although I’ve dabbled with meditation far more this year than in any year of my life prior, I’m nowhere near having a meditation practice. Because of that, I’ve yet to experience any noticeable change in my state due to meditation. I don’t have a specific type of meditation I plan to do. Instead I will use the coming days to explore the different options and styles to see what works best for me. My goal with daily meditation is to simply, consciously, do at least a few minutes everyday. As the days pass I’m certain my ability to and interest in meditating for longer periods will increase and the benefits will become more clear.
Yoga. Another practice that is frequently recommended for its ability to help us cultivate a sense of calm, focus, and centeredness is yoga. Although yoga in the west is mostly thought of as a physical practice, it’s really a discipline with interwoven mental, spiritual, and physical components. For about a year in 2015 I attended yoga classes or did yoga at home 2-3 times per week and noticed a distinct shift in my mental and emotional state. I felt better able to handle the stresses of everyday life and I felt more clear on my purpose and passions than I had prior. Unfortunately, I stopped my regular practice because of a wrist injury. But after a lot of effort, I seem to have the wrist injury healed. Yoga has been something I’ve missed over the past year and a half and lately I’ve felt drawn to the mat. I’ll spend at least 15 minutes everyday practicing yoga — slowing down, focusing, breathing, cultivating peace, and feeling gratitude.
Alcohol. Addictive substances can dramatically affect our emotional wellbeing — sugar, caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana are among the most frequently used in the U.S. All of these substances have substantial effects on our brain chemistry, composition, and function. It makes increasing sense to me to limit or eliminate addictive substances to facilitate optimal mental and emotional states. With the exceptions of sugar and caffeine, alcohol has been the only drug I’ve consumed on a regular basis or even semi-regular basis. A little under a year ago I realized my intake of alcohol was frequently in excess of the recommended upper limit for “moderate consumption” — I had a drink or two most nights of the week. I rarely had more than two drinks a night and I never worried I was developing an addiction, but it was an unhealthy habit. Since that realization, I’ve generally reduced my intake to be well within moderate consumption levels. For my birthday reset in March and for the month of June, I abstained completely from imbibing. I can now go relatively easily without alcohol (social situations are still difficult) and it no longer feels like a habit. What these experiments and reductions have shown me is that at the very least, life is just as enjoyable sober as it is when I drink moderately. Plus, I’m far more productive when I don’t drink, I sleep better, and think more clearly. It feels like a good time to experiment with a long period of sobriety, so I’m done drinking for the rest of 2017. Who knows, it might turn into an amazing part of my lifestyle that I continue on into the new year.
I don’t know what the next 150 days will bring, but I do know that I’ll discover a lot about myself and at this point in life, that’s an outstanding outcome.