This is the first of a three-part discussion
Not long ago I found myself in a dark place. I know the signs: binge eating, moody, unfocused, and just plain down on myself. The days flicker away faster than money from my bank account. Frustrated by my mistakes and stressed by others’ requests for my time and energy, there comes a tipping point where I’m not good to anyone, including myself.
Life takes me away from feeling grounded in who, what, and why I am. I feel more anxiety and depression than joy.
When I get to that point, I want to get back to being me.
It doesn’t take a major activity to feel myself again. Small actions make a beneficial impact, and so I asked myself, “What am I doing when I feel more myself?” I created a list of actions that help me feel centered, focused, and calm. Your list will vary from my go-to choices. These are what work for me. I’ve categorized them as people, places, or things.
Staying close to friends that are positive, affirming, and attentive helps build my confidence and encourages me to take risks like writing fiction. My most joyful moments are with a friend that accepts me for who I am. They “get” me. I don’t have to hide behind my societal mask or screen my responses. I can just say what I want to say. I know the feeling. It’s like I can’t stop talking. I become unabashed in my statements. It feels so good.
We all need that buddy, confidant, best friend or significant other that avoids “surface” conversation like the weather and news and jumps right into the raw, authentic conversation.
For example, when a neighbor of mine gets down on herself, she calls this one friend. By the time she hangs up, her entire perspective on life improves.
Who is the person that comes to your mind when you feel depressed or anxious? That someone worth contacting. If it’s an old friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, why not call them or set up a time for coffee?
If you can’t think of that one person, then maybe a group suits you better.
In Okinawa, Japan, the government understands the importance of human contact and rejuvenating health. They assist and encourage senior citizens to stay connected by helping them to form small social groups that meet weekly. The one rule is to keep the conversation light-hearted. These groups contain some of the longest living individuals on earth.
In Canada, similar groups exist for men. One woman’s group noticed their husbands sat in the cars by themselves during their meetings. They knew their husbands had bottled-up emotions, so the women helped the men form their own groups. Now, there are many Men’s groups around the country.
As for myself, I belong to two men’s groups. The first group asked me to join them for a beer at a local microbrewery. They met every Friday for an hour. They drink one beer and go home, but in that hour of mundane conversation, all feel a connection and support.
I enjoyed attending that group so much that I started another group. The second group meets weekly for two hours at a park under an oak tree. Like the first group, we talk about current events, movies, and politics, but also the daily struggles of life. In both meetings, the men come away feeling like, “Okay, I can get through the next week.” We miss it when the meeting doesn’t happen.
Men and women both need to feel that connection to humanity. The ladies, I feel, are just better at making it happen. They have their sewing groups, “stitch and bitch” knitting circles, book and movie clubs , game nights and more. I know a woman who meets her friends at concerts regularly. The types of groups are endless for women.
Don’t know anyone with similar hobbies? Social media is another way to find others with similar interests. I use the Meetup app to find people with like passions. “Meetup is a social media platform for hosting and organizing in-person and virtual activities, gatherings, and events for people and communities of similar interests, hobbies, and professions.” For example, I enjoy hiking, so I logged on to Meetup and joined five Meetup hiking groups and go once or twice a week. Meetup host a gamut of interests. If you don’t see a group you like, start your own.
People rejuvenate us in powerful yet simple ways. Take the initiative to meet with friends and acquaintances regularly. Invite a few at one time from any segment of your life. We all need that time to rejuvenate back to more joy in our lives.
We will continue this topic in two more segments.
“The smallest and gentlest acts keep us grounded.” Julia Cameron