Try: Bringing Color Into Your Life

Last week, we saw housepainters priming the house out our back window. We were filled with curiosity (especially me, a curious cat for neighborhood haps). What color would they go with? Would it be "startup grey", the most common color of the San Francisco neighborhood where we live? 

Aha! A sparkling, snappy blue!

Aha! A sparkling, snappy blue!

From early morning tea to evening dinner, getting to look out the window at the new bright blue house has genuinely brightened our lives. It seems so simple, but makes a difference in our lives. Just a color change! 

Here's another example. Check out this house. It's just a short walk from where we live:

I can't love it more.

I can't love it more.

There's something about the brightness that suggest strength, optimism and positivity. 

We may not all be ready to paint our houses ala Caribbean dream (though I wish we would), but bringing color into your daily life -- in the form of painting a room, or just painting a piece of furniture -- can melt a little stress and help pump up the good vibes. Finding and enjoying those positive feelings is what helps us ride the wave

A truly incredible row of houses in the Dominican Republic.

A truly incredible row of houses in the Dominican Republic.

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Try to: Let Your Phone Die And Roam With A New Friend

stress relief

My friend Nell posted this one on Facebook earlier today:

Great idea: Let your phone die for hours and walk around the city with a new friend like you're in your twenties. #bliss

This struck me as a truly great idea. I've had a couple of accidental phone-free walks with new friends recently. They helped me see my surroundings with fresh eyes. Could be the same for you, if you decide to give this experiment a go.

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Try to: Hang Out With a Kid

stress relief

Another experiment that worked for writer Madeleine Connolly. Her post on her improved mental health caught my attention. Here's what she says:

I work with kids, and I love it. I laugh every single day — probably ten times at least. Everyday is different, and everyday I learn new things from them. I practice compassion with them, and I get to witness the returns of that.

One of the best returns? Kids make you talk to them. You’re pretty much forced out of introversion when you work with kids, because you have to hold conversations about literally anything and everything. And their confidence can rub off on you too. I used to find talking with other adults who were confident to be difficult — it often used to make me feel even more introverted. But I found that’s not the same with kids, they’re just happy to be themselves, and for some reason it’s infectious.

I can’t explain it — but it’s a goddamned beautiful mystery that kids being themselves can help me to be myself.

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Try to: Incorporate Incidental Walking

National-Walk-to-Work-Day-615x300.jpg

This experiment comes from Madeleine Connolly. She writes for the BV Medium publication. This is taken from a piece she wrote where she describes suddenly realizing she's feeling better, and why. (Editor's Note: Anytime someone writes about something that works, I sit up and pay attention.)

I try to walk at least 20 minutes every day. Often it’s kind of incidental walking: walking home from work for 30 minutes instead of getting the bus, that kind of thing. That’s all I do.

I think it works.

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Try: Cooking One Day of Healthy Meals

healthy stress relief

Breakfast

  1. A fast, dairy-free, high fiber Coconut Chia Seed Pudding by Din's Emily Olson LaFave

  2. Put 2 tablespoons of chia seeds into a jar with a sealable lid.

  3. Add 1/2 can of coconut milk (7 oz) and shake well.

  4. Wait 20-30 minutes for the seeds to expand.

  5. Top with nuts, seeds, fruits and serve.

healthy lunch

Lunch

Farro + Kale Salad by A Beautiful Mess's Emma Chapman

  1. Boil 2 cups farro in 4 cups of salted water for 20 minutes.

  2. Drain, rinse in cold water, and set aside.

  3. Chop leaves of kale into small pieces and massage with olive oil to soften.

  4. Chop a cucumber into very small pieces.

  5. Combine farro, kale, and cucumber with some sunflower seeds and cranberries in large bowl. Coat with some olive oil.

  6. Make dressing by combining 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp honey.

  7. Dress salad and season with salt as needed. Makes 6 servings.

Dinner

We roast a lot of chickens in our house. That sounded violent. Let me say it another way. Perhaps a nice roasted chicken with a side of veggies for dinner?

We do this often because it's actually really easy. It makes the house smell great, and you get really useful leftovers. 

My approach, in sentence form: Put fennel, multi-colored carrots, broccoli, or other root vegetables under a dry chicken in a baking dish. Bake at 475 for around an hour. The veg act as a rack as well as making the whole thing a one-pan dish. 

If you're more comfortable with a step-by-step, go with the Molly Ringwald chicken I linked to above, or Gabi Moskowitz's 3rd date chicken. Both will treat you right.

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Try: Getting Bored

allow yourself to get bored

Try turning off devices and doing nothing until you're bored. Genuinely bored, in the way that little kids are when they don't know what to do with themselves. (The same boredom that usually hits in the period before they come up with some great activity idea like building an underwater tent in the living room. Don't step on the floor! The carpet is sharks!) 

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Try: Tackling a Craft

Try knitting, then knit something absurd to put on a baby. Then take a photo and never use it again. Just remember, after the absurd knits comes the cool stuff you actually use over and over again.

Try knitting, then knit something absurd to put on a baby. Then take a photo and never use it again. Just remember, after the absurd knits comes the cool stuff you actually use over and over again.

You don't have to be good to start knitting. Not at all. And check this excerpt from a recent NY Times piece by Jane Brody, The Health Benefits of Knitting:

Knitting and crocheting can lower heart rate and blood pressure and reduce harmful blood levels of the stress hormone cortisol. The father of a prematurely born daughter reports that during the baby’s five weeks in the neonatal intensive care unit, “learning how to knit preemie hats gave me a sense of purpose during a time that I felt very helpless. It’s a hobby that I’ve stuck with, and it continues to help me cope with stress at work, provide a sense of order in hectic days, and allows my brain time to solve problems.”

I will literally teach you how to do basic knit (just like this) if you join the BV Slack room. We could even google hangout. Why not? Sounds relaxing.

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Try: Taking a Bath with a Podcast

listen to podcast.jpg

Reminder: these are good things, both together or separately. If you're lucky enough to have the time, why not become happy woman with her massive headphones & bubbles? 

Also, books are always there, ready to change out your mind's broken record. Here's a novel recommendation if nothing's coming to mind: The Brothers Sisters by Patrick Dewitt. Man, was that a great book.

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Try: Taking a Walk

Easier said than done. But just getting up and going for a 10 minute walk can melt the snowball a bit.

The Human app helps you to be active for 30 minutes a day and tells you if you've hit that 10 min walk level with a pretty design. I find that having a small goal--just go to the library--can get me out of the house, and that's what it takes to start feeling better.

If this experiment works for you, hit the heart to let others know they should give it a try!