Are you enjoying a home holiday?
Long before the coronavirus began its 2020 world tour that has kept many of us close to home, Swedes had an obsession with vacationing within their own country. They even have a word for it—hemester—translated as “home holiday” that sounds a lot more inviting than staycation that sounds a bit like house arrest. More than half of the Swedish population have access to a summer house, often very rustic, in the countryside or on the coast where they retreat each year to connect with their rural roots. Swedes think of hemester as a way to actively commune with nature—evoking another Nordic tradition called friluftsliv, literally open-air living—and, with two-thirds of the country covered in forest, 30 national parks, and nearly 270,000 islands, there are many places to enjoy nature's open air and prepare for the long winter ahead. The 5-Minute Recharge is here to help you enjoy your home holiday and prepare for whatever lies ahead with the best evidence-based strategies, tips, and encouragement. ONE RECHARGING QUOTE “I think in the Swedish mentality, it becomes something almost necessary to connect with nature and recharge your batteries for a long, dark, and cold winter.” – Jennifer Dahlberg on the importance of hemester-ing
– artistVik chronicled 113 days of quarantine in this giant wall doodle THREE IDEAS #1 A PANORAMIC VIEW Did you know that your eyes were designed, first and foremost, to set your overall level of alertness or sleepiness? Dr. Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University, studies how vision affects the brain, and has found that your eyes are the most powerful drivers of what you think, what you feel, and ultimately how you behave. He recommends getting two to ten minutes of daylight first thing in the morning, even on a cloudy day, and to get sunlight in your eyes in the evening as the sun is setting. Exposing your eyes to sunlight helps regulate the secretion of the hormone cortisol that's linked to anxiety, depression and insomnia. Dr. Huberman also recommends the “panoramic view” as a fast and covert tactic to calm yourself in any situation. Keep your head and eyes still, but try to bring in as much of your surroundings as possible–the ceiling, floor, walls around you and even yourself. Dialing out your gaze disengages an alertness circuit in the brain and shifts from a higher stress state to a state of calm. Try it now and see how it feels. “When you're in this panoramic vision, not only can you see more of your visual scene, but there's a relaxation of the stress response. Your situational awareness goes up. Your reaction times go up four times, and you're calming yourself with a mechanism that was built for this purpose.” – Dr. Andrew Huberman, from the Finding Mastery podcast #2 DE-HABITUATE As the pandemic drags on and we become lulled into a ritual of daily sameness, habituation–the tendency to become accustomed to repetition–conspires against our happiness. The reason we habituate, according to “gritty” psychologist Angela Duckworth, is that it's more important for our survival to free up our attention to notice what's new and different than to dwell on the wonders that we've repeatedly experienced. Blissing out every time you flush the toilet at the miracle that is modern plumbing, from a survival standpoint, isn't a good use of your attention. But it may be good for your soul. Duckworth advises us to become sensitized to and give thanks for the everyday wonders that resonate most with us–she loves wall-to-wall carpeting–as an antidote to habituation. “All you hardwood floor people are wrong. It [wall-to-wall carpeting] is a joy in my life! I have not habituated to that.” – Angela Duckworth #3 JOYFUL SURPRISES Joy is something you may think is childish or frivolous, but according to Joyful author Ingrid Fetell Lee as discussed on a recent episode of Routines and Ruts –the perfect podcast for a pandemic– joy is hardwired into your brain and deeply connected to wellbeing. One of the places you can find joy, even in the midst of a pandemic, is in surprise. Surprise encourages you to see the world in a new way and is a catalyst for creativity that breaks the trance of monotony. And we could all use a break from monotony right now. Although we're restricted in movement and are being deprived of the kind of serendipity that can lead to the unexpected, there are ways we can cultivate surprise at home. Ingrid suggests hiding surprising things. She has painted bright yellow cabana stripes in the back of her closet that give her a surprise of delight every time she opens the door. To set up the conditions for joyful surprise at home, you can decorate drawers with bold liners, paint picture frames in bold colours, or deposit items in the pockets of clothing as you change seasons to discover later and bring back memories. “The quality of life is in proportion always to the capacity for delight.” – Julia Cameron *********************************** THE FAST FIVE 1. Joy at Work by Marie Kondo and Scott Sonenshein - Core Message - YouTube (Time: 9 minutes) (Can a spreadsheet spark joy?) 2. What is MasterClass actually selling? - The Atlantic (Whatever MasterClass is selling, it's perfect for a pandemic.) 3. 100 Things I Learned in 10 Years and 100 Reads of Marcus Aurelius - Ryan Holiday (Food for stoic thought.) 4. Overtaxed by all the unfinished tasks hanging over you? There is a solution - Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian (Oliver showcases one of our favourite tips.) 5. Four tips from elite sport you can use in everyday life - BBC Ideas (Time: 4 minutes) (It's not anxiety. It's excitement!) *********************************** YOUR 5-MINUTE RECHARGE CHALLENGE BE A HOME HOLIDAY PHOTOGRAPHER In last week's Fast Five, we linked to an article by Rick Steves, a famous traveler who finds himself, for the first time in thirty years, homebound in Seattle rather than abroad in Europe. This year, Rick has found enjoyment as a tourist in his own backyard. Your 5-Minute Recharge challenge is to adopt the perspective of a tourist and take a photo of something nearby that catches your eye and captures your interest. The first person to mail a copy of their photo to email@example.com receives a copy of The 5-Minute Recharge. Now go, take a photo of your wall-to-wall carpet. “A good traveler can take a trip and never leave her hometown.” – Rick Steves, The Atlantic The final word goes to Joyful author Ingrid Fetell Lee (you can get your free guide, 50 Ways to Find More Joy Every Day from her website) who encourages us to surprise someone.
Please send your comments, suggestions, surprises, and reading recommendations to firstname.lastname@example.org.