Today marks the end of this column: A month’s worth of daily hacks to support your well-being in a winter season like no other. As I wind down the series, I’d love to believe the pandemic’s finale is nigh. But alas, that happy ending is still a ways off.
And though I’m a fierce advocate of both hope and optimism, I’ve set my watch to science and patience for the time being, so there I’ll sit (in my upgraded mask) for as long as it takes to arrive at what’s next.
In this time of unbearable hardship, I am one of the lucky ones: healthy, employed, and thus far unscarred (in an immediate way) by the tidal wave of loss. It’s sobering to consider how few Americans can claim those three pluses right now. To write this column is to be privileged. To think about well-being (a level up from just being) is to be privileged.
None of that is lost on me.
My primary care doctor is a keeper. Sharp, gracious, and no-nonsense, she frequently impresses me with how well she’s kept her human shine intact after a long career in clinical medicine. After all, as many docs will readily acknowledge, the grind of patient care and ensuing burnout can suck the gentle goodwill right out of you.
Six months ago, Dr. Amazing enlightened me about something I won’t soon forget: “We should all be pooping about a pound a day.” Okkkkay. Because she’s so cool, I listened as she got excited about the topic — nodding slowly and repressing my urge…
Though I’ve yet to experiment with weighted blankets, I am familiar with the sensation of being lovingly suffocated by heavy warmth. It happens when my 10-year-old drapes himself across my resting body to snuggle, talk, read, or laugh. As most parents can attest, one version of a no-longer-miniature kid climbing on you can feel squirmy and uncomfortable. But another, calmer version is incredibly delightful and how I imagine hibernating animals must feel in their messy, furry pileups.
Part of me hesitates to focus this column on tips for better sleep since there’s so much fatigue around the topic (bad pun intended). But the other part of me knows full well that sleep is of the utmost importance, plenty of us struggle with it, and let’s be real: Pandemic sleep can be tough to come by.
If exhaustion has you in its grip and you’re hungry for all the tips, tricks, and science you can find on sleep, Elemental has you covered. Are your partner’s snores or twitches too much to handle? Consider a sleep divorce. Waking up…
I’ve come to define a poorly managed midwinter day as one where day bleeds into night and I never manage to get outside, move my body, and soak up what sun I can. On a well-managed day, I work steadily starting early in the morning (ideally alongside a simmering pot of soup) — pausing to eat, exercise, and execute mom duties — and by the time the sun is bedding down…
There’s no doubt that television and film are doing a lot to help us through the pandemic. And there’s even science to suggest that cozying up in front of a favorite movie or show can boost well-being. But when bedtime rolls around, the more you can move away from screens, the better.
I’ve never owned a lamp designed to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD), but that’s only because my zip code is reliably sunny. If it weren’t, I would absolutely invest in one. Access to light, after all, is a human necessity.
I know plenty of folks acclimatized to screens and dark days who might dismiss the notion that sunshine is a vital ingredient of well-being. But it’s hard to argue with physiology (not to mention the established link between sunlight and immune function). …
I’m not entirely sure what goes on in my brain when I work on a jigsaw puzzle, but I do know there is something uniquely engrossing about it. As Marisa Evans reports for Elemental, the slow gathering and careful study of a pile of pieces serves as a form of “play therapy.” By creating order out of chaos, puzzlers arguably experience a mini triumph over (albeit manufactured) anxiety. Puzzling also reportedly delivers a tactile, focused lesson in patience.
My children spent their earliest school days ambling around carefully organized Montessori classrooms, shelves mindfully stocked with tactile materials. Each room was anchored by a “cozy corner,” a nook draped with a tapestry over top of cushions and blankets — just the right size for one or two small people — where reading, napping, or finding calm was encouraged. This design always struck me as brilliant and indeed necessary for little kids whose emotions can bounce in all manner of directions throughout the course of a day.
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