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How to Make Daily Life into a Staycation

photo of Midtown Manhattan skyline with Little Jo photographer cartoon

Staying mindful amid the hustle and bustle of New York City is not an easy task.  Between the throngs of people, congested traffic and fairly constant noise, it’s easy to feel frazzled by the frenetic energy of the place.

Is it possible to find calm in a chaotic environment, and can you relearn to appreciate a place once you’ve gotten to know it maybe too well?  As I’ve been dealing with anxiety this past year, those questions have been in the forefront of my mind quite a bit.  I’m happy to tell you that there’s hope, so call off the movers and read on below for…

My list of top 5 tips for facing, embracing and falling back in love with your city.

  1. Take a minute to really listen to the sounds you hear around you.  Name the sounds silently in your head and simply observe them without judgement. See if you can expand your field of awareness to notice sounds in the distance as well as the more immediate sounds closer to you.  Make a game of staying with a passing sound until you can no longer hear it.
  2. Exercise.  Run, walk, do yoga or Pilates, ballroom dance, stand on your head…do whatever daily exercise you enjoy.  Exercise is a natural stress buster.  If you’re less stressed you’ll be better equipped to enjoy the pace of the city on your own terms.
  3. Speaking of exercise….find ways to flex your creative muscles, too.  Draw, paint, bake, tend a potted plant, knit a sweater, color in a coloring book, learn to play a new instrument.  Creating something of beauty (even if it’s for your eyes only) is invaluable for fostering self growth.  Growing as a person will make you happier, and if you’re happier, those around you will also benefit.
  4. Imagine that you’re seeing your environment through a child’s eyes.  Look for the  magic in patterns, colors and shapes. Take out your camera and snap a picture of whatever catches the fancy of your inner child (the sillier the better!)
  5. Close each day with a pampering ritual.  Drink a cup of herbal tea, rub your favorite essential oils on the bottoms of your feet, curl up with an inspiring book, or simply plop the book on your lower abdomen and watch it rise and fall as you breath deeply in and out.

Have any staycation tips you want to share?  I’d love to hear!


Sketching Out a Mindful Cure for Anxiety

Pen sketch of anxious looking bald manIf you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I started suffering from rather pronounced bouts of anxiety this year.  Where my anxiety came from and why it hit when it did is something I’m still working to understand.  But if you’re like me (anxious AND impatient) you’ll appreciate why I felt that it was more important to focus on getting better first.

My journey back to health hasn’t been linear, but it’s entailed the following steps:

  1. Admitting that I needed help
  2. Seeking out help
  3. Tweaking my diet (i.e. cutting out alcohol, caffeine and most sugar)
  4. Aiming to get enough sleep
  5. Slowing down (yoga, yoga and more yoga)
  6. Meditating daily
  7. Learning to be mindful of the sensations in my body (hello pounding heart!)
  8. Accepting and not judging myself or the sensations in my body
  9. Practicing letting go of the things I can’t control (this is a rinse and repeat step for me…)
  10. Doing more of what I love*

*And that’s where the sketching, drawing, illustrating and cartooning comes in!  Subway sketches like the one above?  My way of being in the moment by focusing on what I’m seeing – and, surprisingly, a wonderful way to enjoy what otherwise could feel like a scary commute.

P.S.  A side benefit is that when you practice really seeing (or listening) you might just discover that you’re not alone in feeling anxious or scared.

Do you suffer from anxiety?  What’s helped you to cope with your fears?  I’d love to hear!

A Closer (Cartoon) Look Behind the Scenes…

(In case you were wondering what really goes on in the violins.)

(P.S.  Print and greeting card versions of this cartoon illustration are now available in my shop at Etsy.)