(Re) Charge!

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Good morning, dear readers. I trust that if this morning for you, as it is for me, that you rested well last night and that you are now ready to face another day and the challenges it will bring.

A friend of mine commented on a blog post the other day. She in essence wondered out loud how mental health professionals were able to unwind, de-stress and otherwise cope with the rigors of our profession.

Of course, down time is a very personal thing. We all cope in different ways. I thought I would share some of mine with you. 

It is very important to balance activities, as anyone will tell you. Anything done to excess can be detrimental and not helpful. For that reason, I have several kinds of activities that I really enjoy.

I am a middle-aged male. It’s important for me to maintain my physical health, my strength, and my stamina. I live alone, so taking care of myself is going to be more and more important as time goes on and I age-gracefully I hope! I have twenty-four-hour access to a gym where I live, a wonderful thing with my odd work schedule. I try to get there at least three or four times per week for at least 1-1 1/2 hours per visit.

I walk on a treadmill, use the elliptical machine, and lift weights using a nice set of free weights provided by the gym. It’s amazing how much better one can feel with just a modicum of physical exercise. I parlay this training into competition when I can, though not as much in recent years. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, so hiking, road racing, and now competitive walking have always been fun for me. I am setting my sights on another half marathon in the near future. I recently walked up and down the grassy green slopes of a Civil War historic site and plan to get out to other battlefields soon to do the same.

The bottom line for physical fitness that I have learned as I watch my own patients over the years? Find something you enjoy, do it regularly and keep moving!

I enjoy the arts very much. For this reason, I just purchased a pair of season tickets for four different groups in my area and am looking forward to the upcoming performance seasons beginning in the fall. I will see a stunning performance of Les Mis by the Players group in the next town, I will attend a cultural series in the theater of the local college, just a short five minute drive from my door. I will travel up the road to the capital to see Broadway shows and symphony performances at a wonderful venue on the University of South Carolina campus in downtown Columbia. All of these performances are wonderful ways to get outside of one’s self and experience the wide range of talent right around the corner. They are ways to transport yourself, if for just a few hours, to other magical worlds of light, sound, music and theater. 

I love to read and wish I had much more time to do it. At any one time, I have from one to four books going and try to visit each a few times each week. Right now, I have Deliverance going on my iPhone as an audible book, am reading Confederates in the Attic (I was told by a new friend that my not having read this book was a true emergency and that I must remedy that right away!), and am dabbling in C. S. Lewis, re-reading Mere Christianity. Once again, just as in live arts performances, reading is an excellent way to get away from the stressful world that is and discover new worlds that might be.

I love to travel and get out of town whenever I get the chance. Since off time in my profession, especially in telepsychiatry, is at a premium, this often takes some planning. It is worth it. My recent trip to visit with family, do a picture-taking hike and just get out on the open road to drive a while was rejuvenating in the best way. 

Of course, I love to write. Thinking through a topic, getting the thoughts out of my head and onto a page so that others may read them and respond to them fills a very big need for me on an almost daily basis. There is something about the process of creativity that both completes us and lets us contribute to the ongoing body of knowledge that is growing every day. I love being a part of that, and it is one of the best ways I have found to begin my day in a very positive way. Since you come back here from time to time to see what I’ve written, I hope you agree that this is a good use of our time.

So, my friends, these are only a few things that I enjoy that help me de-stress, relax, regroup and recharge. When I do them and feel more centered and at ease with myself, I think I most likely do a much better job of trying to help others. At least I hope that’s the way it goes.

What do you do to recharge? What activities, pastimes, and hobbies keep you going? 

I’d love to hear from you.

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16 thoughts on “(Re) Charge!

  1. Hi Greg,
    What a great post. The ideas you have listed here have been very helpful for me. Writing, in particular, is very therapeutic for me too. It’s definitely an evidence based activity. Recently I wrote a post about finding happiness, which has some other ideas which you may find useful. See “The art of accidental happiness” http://wp.me/p3BTRI-4n. ….and keep writing…
    Thanks again

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  2. Thanks for a wonderful, upbeat post. There’s nothing like describing the things that bring us joy to help round out life’s stressors. I always start physically by walking with the dog (she turns around frequently to smile at me!) or getting on my bike. And for me, the mere act of thinking ‘what will bring me joy right now’ is sometimes enough to turn things toward a better direction.

    Years ago, when I was suffering from clinical depression, I made a list of “ten things to do” when my thoughts were so dark remembering my name was difficult. The depression was disabling, yet I learned much from that experience that has served me well to this day.

    Thanks again,
    Jody

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  3. Knot just posted a link to this on FB, how wonderful. I was just writing today about being in a post-post treatment rut. Maybe part of it is not doing enough recharging, just letting things stagnate. Anyway, i write and walk. And reframe.

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  4. Knot posted a link to this on FB, I needed to read this today. i’ve been lamenting about my post post treatment rut. Maybe one way out of a rut is to concentrate on recharging. I haven’t been writing enough – that helps a lot. It helps me reframe things. And walking. Thanks for this!

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  5. A well-balanced (though busy) life, Doc. Mine’s fairly similar but a little bit “downscale.” I need to work (Though 65, I’m one of those municipal pensioners impoverished–a $1,000/month Social Security penalty–by the 1983 “double dipper” ruling) so I try to combine it with “paid exercise” landscaping several days a week Other days, I teach first aid and CPR for slightly more than minimum wage. Hectic, but I’m eating. Writing has been confined to odd times here and there, but I’m making more productive use of those opportunities, and hope to soon resume work on a trio of novellas started long ago (2.5 done at this point). I’ve been writing poetry for years and have one chapbook to show for it–“Falling Off the Bone” (on Amazon). This past spring I was finally able to do something I’ve long wanted to do–write a play. Just a 10-minute, two-scene piece, but satisfying nonetheless. It’s sounds as if you’re about to give re-enacting a try and I say go for it! It’s a blast. After twenty years’ arm twisting by an old friend, I participated for the first time ever this year. Grew some hair and a beard and went to Fredericksburg, VA as Walt Whitman (The real Walt went 150 years ago to locate his brother George, who had been wounded in battle there.) Most of my reading since then has been from the vast library of Civil War literature, and I continue to participate as a civilian re-enactor when I can. There’ll be two more years of good opportunities to do so. I’m reasonably healthy, fairly handsome, but just a tad lonely—it seems most of the women who once found me attractive now view me as a potential liability! My one and only marriage ended long ago. So long ago that I actually forget why we broke up, and I’m willing to try, try again with the right person. Don’t know if I’ll find her, but I’m determined to keep looking. In the meantime, I write….

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  6. Jody,

    I certainly already knew about your passion for bike riding and walking the dog, so that is no surprise to me! Good for you.

    The list of ten things, prepped ahead of time, sounds like a really good way to give yourself a parachute when you feel like you’re free falling in the middle of a depressive episode.

    Thnks

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  7. Jody,

    I already knew about your passion for biking and walking, so that is no surprise to me.

    The list of ten things sounds like a great prefab parachute for the times that free falling in the middle of a depressive episode requires something to put the brakes on.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting! Hope you feel well today and have a good morning.

    Greg

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  8. Rob,

    What a thoughtful and revealing comment. Thank you for sharing all that about yourself. Sounds like you stay quite busy too.

    I certainly understand the loneliness and other feelings that you battle at times. Everybody tells me that if you just concentrate on living your life, the relationship thing will take care of itself. Remains to be seen, doesn’t it?!

    Thanks very much for reading and for your comments. They put a smile on my face.

    Greg

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  9. You’re welcome, Doc, and I know you get “Ditto!” You’re quite right about the social anomie. I should join a bowling league, attend church more often than once a year, and start hanging out at the Moose Club. Part of the problem is I’m more than half deaf–some from 155 mm howitzers, some from the fire department sirens. Another part is the writing, which I’m loathe to give up. We scribblers are a solitary lot! Good to know you, and to know you’re there. And not to worry: with the Pulitzer coming my way, I’ll soon be awash in dames. Smart ones! See you at the next re-enactment, maybe… Rob

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