Saturday 5 September 2020

Building Resilience

A restful hotel room in Kraków
Good morning, faithful readers!

Where have I been, you ask? I have been off doing a partial internet detox, which means filling my morning hours before work with therapeutic reading, language study, and pedalling away on our stationary bike, which is now set up in the kitchen. This way, when I begin work around 10 AM, I have not already been stewing my brains in the internet for two or three hours.

I still sit around too much, but I've decided to work on that.

One of the problems with being addicted to the internet---the never ending stream of information, opinions, news items, laughs, shocks and alarms---is that it eventually fills me with rage and self-disgust. Hours and hours go by, wasted.

One of the worst aspects of words-on-screen is that they are harder to remember than words-on-page. Now when I'm writing a complicated story for work, I print out first source material so that I can actually read it and check it over and over again if need be.

That is why, after I wash the dishes in the morning, the first thing I do is read a chapter of a Real Book. Since returning from Poland, my Real Books have been James Clear's Atomic Habits and Rick Hanson's Resilient. I highly recommend both.

Happily for me, I took Resilient with us to Poland, so I learned about absorbing pleasant experiences for later use while still on holiday. In stressful moments in the past two weeks, I have been able to regain equilibrium by imagining myself back in Polish Pretend Daughter-in-Law's hotel room in the countryside, looking at the sunny, green lawn where my husband was sitting with a book, watching golfers hit balls into the pond. Ahhh...

Another lesson from Resilient is that human beings need safety, satisfaction, and connection with others to feel happy. Safety can mean a roof over your head, satisfaction a job well done, and connection simply remembering how much someone loves you. I woke up one day last week full of dread about something, and so I began to list off things I was grateful for--our home, our savings, the apple tree, everyone in my family is in good health--and the dread went away.

Resilient cost £12.99 because I bought it new at a real bookshop, and this was much less expensive than a single session with a therapist. Benedict Ambrose, alarmed by my rage and self-disgust, had begun to suggest I see a therapist.  Poor BA was trying to be a therapist by telling me that although some thing or situation (like a typo in an article I had submitted) felt like an enormity, it wasn't really.

So hooray for popular psychology books, structured activities, and the exercise bike. But now I must go for today is cider-making day. I shall let you know how that went anon.

1 comment:

  1. On your recommendation I bought Atomic Habits in a Real Bookshop, couldn't remember the other author's name, the one who wrote Resilient. I've only Chapter One read but an hour ago I did something that generally leads to a near panic attack, something that I've put off for 18 months. I just managed it for a minute, but I did it. Still catching my breath but thank you. Sinéad.