“Acceptance teaches that how you feel is simply how you feel. It’s neither good nor bad. It just is. And interestingly, when you’re stewing in negative emotions, accepting them often helps them dissipate, like an early morning mist beneath a ray of sun.”
- Alex Korb in The Upward Spiral: Using Neuroscience to Reverse the Course of Depression, One Small Change at a Time.
At a time when social interactions are discouraged, we need a way to fill the void. And it’s tempting to turn to Netflix. But you know what? There are other, more beneficial ways to spend time at home.
Like... art. It’s scientifically sound: picking up a paintbrush is good for your health and wellbeing. That’s why “art therapy” is a thing.
Making art has been shown to reduce cortisol levels. It can also boost memory, improve mental health, and much more.
Now, there are two things worth keeping in mind when it comes to art and wellness.
Firstly, any creative activity is good. Drawing, digital art, writing, music, sculpture, crocheting a winter jacket for your dog... whatever you feel like!
And secondly, you don’t have to be Rembrandt to reap the rewards. As an art therapist, Megan Carleton says, “It’s the process, not the product.”
Why not try a new creative pursuit today, even if just for a few minutes? And do feel free to tell us how you do (or even show us your art – if you feel like sharing!)
Go With The ‘Flow’
Have you ever been so engrossed in an activity that everything else just ceased to matter? Well, you were in a state of flow.
Flow feels pretty darn good. You’re focused. Energized. You have no idea how much time is passing, and you don’t care. You’re stretching your skills. And you’re getting stuff done.
Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi pioneered the concept of flow. According to his research, flow is good for our wellbeing. The more we’re in it, the happier we are.
Flow is a useful tool for productivity, too. With flow, you’re working in a focused way, free of distracting thoughts. In his book The Rise of Superman, Steven Kotler found that top executives are five times more productive when they’re in a state of flow.
So how do you get yourself into flow? Firstly, you need to choose the right activity. It must be something that challenges you just enough: not too difficult (you’ll feel overwhelmed) and not too simple (you’ll just get bored).
You then need to make an effort to focus. Willpower comes first, then flow can take over.
Finally, do take breaks from the activity to keep you refreshed and to stop you burning out mentally.
If you want to know more about flow, check out Csíkszentmihályi’s ultra-popular TED Talk or pick up one of his books, and see whether you can start to identify which activities get you in the zone of flow.
Ravi Raman, Executive Career Coach
As a fourteen-year veteran of Microsoft, executive career coach, and blogger, Ravi Raman has become an increasingly early riser – “currently waking up at 5:00 am without an alarm”. Here’s what he does after rising:
Meditates for 10 minutes.
Writes down whatever comes to mind for 10-15 minutes using a pen and paper.
Spends an hour reading or going through an online course.
Spends 5-10 minutes planning his day. “I pick one big thing to accomplish for the day and make a note of it on my calendar. I then scan my appointments and block off chunks of time to work on my most important tasks.”
Why it works:
- Meditating is like a morning stretch for your mind. Even 10 minutes a day can improve focus and reduce anxiety.
- Handwriting has proven benefits over typing. Journaling by hand helps you clarify your thoughts, remember things, and meet your goals.
- Early morning is a good time to read or study, especially when our brains are refreshed from a good night’s sleep.
By planning out the focus and important tasks of the day, we’re more likely to stick to what matters and achieve what we set out to achieve.
In fact, that’s why the focus section and daily schedule section of your Panda Planner work so well in tandem. By setting your focus overall, you have a better sense of direction when planning out which tasks to tackle.
And by blocking off time in your schedule to work on those tasks, you’re giving yourself dedicated space for them and setting a time constraint that will lower your chances of procrastination.
How about giving it a try tomorrow – set a focus for the day, then schedule a time to work on tasks that relate to it. Let us know how it goes!