My last blog post was kind of dedicated to embracing life in the sense of taking risks and doing everything you want to do… NOW! And shortly after writing that post, I felt a twinge of guilt for putting more pressure on people to make sure that they are living every minute of every day to the fullest. So I would like to counterbalance that post with this post. Let me assuage you of a little of that pressure that the constant flood of YOLO! messages puts on us.
The concept of YOLO can make us feel many things from empowered to completely stressed. We have all watched jealously as our friends on social media narrate their amazing careers and show us pictures of their phenomenal trips to foreign lands. We look at our own lives and realize that we still have not taken that trip abroad, still haven’t obtained our dream job, still haven’t found that “one” person or made babies or found our adult best friends, or achieved our desired education level and on and on and on. What we often forget is that the only way to really achieve our dreams and carpe diem (or YOLO!), is to embrace the mundane.
If you really want to solve a problem, come up with a solution, or boost your creativity, your brain needs some down time. I oftentimes get caught up in the mentality that if I worker harder and longer than everyone else, then I will be successful and amazing. Turns out, this is all wrong. It may be counter-intuitive, but if we really want to solve problems, we need to stop working on them and thinking about them. Our brains need down time. While it’s not totally understood, our brains prefer to solve things at the subconscious level – which means we need to stop obsessing and trying to do it all. Instead, we need to kick back and enjoy some activities that take very little brain power. Here is a list of things that may not scream YOLO but will rejuvenate you, de-stress you, and allow your brain to work its magic so you can YOLO later.
1. Cooking. And I’m not talking about opening a box of frozen lasagna and throwing it in the oven. In order to get the benefits, you will need to do the prep work on your own. In my experience, chopping veggies is the most beneficial and therapeutic. It takes very little thought, and the repetition is actually quite soothing. It allows your brain to chill out and solve problems at a subconscious level.
2. Candy Crush and other games that take little to no thought. Again monotony is key here. Your brain needs this! Give in.
3. Exercise. This shit is good for you all around. It’s good for all of your organs. It’s good for your happiness level. And it’s great for allowing your brain to get to work (just don’t think too much or you’ll ruin it).
4. Cleaning. Depending on your situation, you may love or hate me for this one. Sometimes cleaning can seem like a daunting and/or never-ending task, but if you can give it 10-30 minutes of effort, you may reap the benefits of not only a clean house, but also a sharp mind. I don’t think it counts if you just spend 5 minutes cleaning up after dinner or quickly picking up the house. To really get the benefits, set aside at least 10 consecutive minutes. I’ve used cleaning as a de-stressor many times with great success.
5. Walking your dog (cat, pig, goat etc.) or yourself. I can’t recommend this enough! My husband and I walk our dog nearly every morning and every evening. It gets us outside (soak up that vitamin D and oxygen!). It gets us moving. Bonus: it makes our dog a better dog. And again, does not require much brain power, which as you are learning, gives you more brain power!
6. Sleeping. Now that we’re adults, we know how awesome sleep is. Your assignment? Make time for it! This one is absolutely critical to your brain’s prowess. So just do it.
7. Sex. Need I say more?
8. Live music. Go see a local band. Go see your favorite national act. Just go. Watching a live music performance is incredibly cathartic. It takes just enough of your brain power to allow you to zone out – especially if you are up and dancing to the rhythm. We’re not too old for EDM or jam bands! This fits the role of rejuvenating your brain while also achieving YOLO status. You can recharge your power and also post pictures of yourself watching a live band to show how amazing your life is.
Everything in life is all about balance. If you have a job that takes a lot of mental acuity, then give yourself some down time after work. Dedicate some time to the above activities (and let me know in the comments what other activities you have found helpful). Conversely, if your daily job does not require a lot of brain power (I’ll let you decide), then you will need to engage in more mentally stimulating activities in order to achieve balance in your life. I like to think about it in terms of my laptop: if I never turn it on, it’s uesless, but if I leave it running all the time and never re-start it, it gets really sluggish and sometimes stops working altogether. Balance. YOLO.