Pennie Nichols found a way to lift herself out of a place where nothing was working. Actually, 5 ways. Read more from Pennie on her blog.
A little over a year ago, I had fallen into a pit of negative emotion.
The pit had formed for a variety of reasons: I was working hideous hours and pushing aside personal or domestic interests; the freezes were killing my plants; it was dark by 5:15 p.m. Even though I understood why I was a grumpy curmudgeon, I was having trouble digging myself out of this pit.
So I decided to take five. Five positive measures for myself, each day before noon.
I chose a combination of physical, emotional, and creative measures.
Five simple exercises
Not a gym workout, just a few minutes of five exercises to get my blood pumping. Arm swings, toe touches, sit-ups, yoga, curls. I wasn’t scientific about it. I just did five exercises.
Five gratefuls and affirmations
Practicing gratitude and affirmations has become popular, and while the practice currently borders on cliché, the power of authentic gratitude is real. I made it a point to do this every morning. Some days I shared them, not on status updates, but with my partner, a friend, or one of my children. Sharing made them more meaningful and powerful. More authentic.
Five minutes outside
Working at home, I often pop out of bed and beeline from coffee to computer, where I’ll stay for rest of the day. Even though I keep a garden, I can easily go days without stepping outside, especially during winter. I made it a point to BE outside. Not to take out the trash or water a plant. Just be out there. Soak in the sun, feel the moistness of the fog, listen to the rain, gaze up the pine. Five minutes of just me and the outside.
Five minutes of quiet/meditation
For years, I made an effort to meditate 20 minutes a day. I struggled with monkeys chattering in my head. I found myself opening an eye to check the time (how much longer do I have to sit here?). More stressful than quiet, so I stopped. But five minutes? I could do that! Since my Take Five journey began, I’ve worked myself back up to 15 minutes of quiet. When the monkeys chatter too loudly or I peek at the clock, I focus on my breathing. Breathe in for me breathe out for me.
Five written sentences for myself
This is huge. This is why I’m here now. I already write. I write a lot. “Rental writing”: work, projects, textbooks. Although I would put aside time for my own words, I often felt spent, too weary to write from the heart. Yet I yearned to “write for real.” I knew writing had to be one of the five. I decided on five sentences before noon. No pressure to be a story, a chapter in a novel, a scene for a movie. Just five sentences for me from me.
Deliberately doing five things early in the day focused on concepts that matter to me was powerful.
While I wasn’t Ms. Sunshine every day, whenever I would start sliding into that pit, I found it easier to get my footing and pull myself up, into the sunshine.
Sure. I’ve fallen all the way into the pit a few times since. The difference is that now, if I’m not already taking them, I make sure I take five. Exercise, be grateful, go outside, be quiet, write my words: these are my five. This practice centers on self and nurturing, and I find it helpful even when I’m not wallowing in a gloomy pit.
How are you feeling today?
If you could feel better, why not Take Five?
What will your five be?