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Posts Tagged ‘mental health’

“Is there a word for when you wait three weeks to do something, and it takes five minutes?” I asked a few girlfriends the other day.

“Being human,” one friend responded wryly. Another came up with the brilliant portmanteau you see in the post title: procrastiminutiae, or putting off the tiny things.

I’ve been deep in a post-holiday, endless-pandemic funk of worry and frustration, unable to motivate myself to do much besides run and read and wash dishes. (All of which are good things.) But a few days ago, I decided to tackle one small task I’d been putting off for weeks: calling the gas company about an inspection. I’m not sure why: maybe it was the sunshine, or my inspiring run playlist (heavy on the badass female ’90s country singers), or just the general sense that it was time to stop avoiding this one little thing.

It took (less than) five minutes, in the end, and I got so inspired I tackled a few more minutiae: taking down the Christmas cards and stockings (I know it’s mid-January; don’t @ me), dropping some clothes off at a donation bin, making a bank deposit, ordering more compost bin bags. Each task took just a few minutes, by itself. But the mental space they cleared felt so expansive – and so good.

We have little control over our lives at the best of times, and lately, with so much disease and upheaval everywhere I look, I’ve been feeling particularly helpless. But it felt very satisfying to exercise some agency over my life for just a few minutes. Bonus: my apartment is a bit clearer, and so is my head.

What are the procrastiminutiae on your list?

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One of the most important things running has taught me: I can move through whatever is happening now.

I knew that, intellectually, before I started running. I knew it physically, too: I’d lugged boxes up and down many flights of stairs while moving, sweated through a challenging yoga class or two, walked until my legs were sore. And I’d survived a number of moves, losses and tough job transitions. But as a runner, the lesson is right there, on multiple levels, every time I step outside: I can and will get through whatever is going on right now. There’s no magic, or if there is, it is the durable, everyday, full-of-grit kind: one foot in front of the other.

In The Long Run, Catriona Menzies-Pike mentions that sometimes, waves of emotion will hit her from nowhere when she’s running: rage or fear or anxiety or sudden joy. This happens to me too: sometimes the emotions are related to whatever I’m consciously thinking about or working through. Sometimes they seem random, unrelated to the weather or my thoughts or how the run is going. But always, always, they pass eventually, as I keep running.

I’ve run through a few huge life shifts now: my divorce, my transition from Harvard to Berklee, a temporary stint and then an actual move to East Boston. Most recently, I’ve been running through the last seven-plus months of pandemic life. Sometimes the sadness and frustration seem endless. But sometimes it helps to be my own object lesson: to move through the air and the streets and the falling leaves, and know that I can move through whatever’s coming next.

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