Decorating Your Workspace

Your desktop serves a function. Too I think decorating your workspace with flair can give you the emotional energy to tackle the day’s tasks. I’ve learned that a desk devoid of personality can make a person ill.

In the time of social distancing I’ve been set up with a computer at a temporary table in a meeting room. It is debilitating to be surrounded by white walls. After being relegated to this set-up I started to think of interior design. How it affects a person’s mood performance and creativity on the job.

In a corporate cubicle it might be harder to decorate with “cutesy” items on your desktop. Having a plant on your desk could improve your health. I’m going to buy a plant to place on my new table.

I think any architect planning the interior design of any workplace–be it an office or not–should be innovative in their use of lighting furniture and paint color.

On the fabric wall above my regular desk I hung two 5″x7″ pieces of artwork. On the desk cabinet below I stuck refrigerator magnets. One has the quote: Leap and the Net Will Appear. Another is a David Bowie Heroes magnet.

I will be happy to return to my desk where I can talk with coworkers every day. I’ll end here by saying that sprucing up your workspace goes a long way in improving your mood performance and creativity on the job.

Yes–I wish someone had thought to paint the meeting room walls sky blue. While I labor at this table I’ll bring in the plant to improve the air quality. I’ll clear space on the table for the plant.

Creating Workday Rituals

More on creating workday rituals:

Right now, I prefer to talk about creating rituals. Using the word self-care has become trite. Too often the need for self-care is impossible to live up to. This is because a person could feel poorly when they’re not engaging in self-care to the degree they think they’re “supposed to.”

Twyla Tharpe the American dancer wrote a book about the creative habit—about learning it and using it throughout your life.

The number-one takeaway I always remembered and practiced out of all the tactics she listed in the book was this one:

Engage in a warm-up habit before doing your task. In her book Tharp talked about the routine she engaged in before going to the gym to work out every day:

Take a shower. Get dressed in her gear. Hail the taxi to take her there. Get in car. Tip the driver before getting out. Walk into gym. Exercise.

In this regard having a workday ritual could help.

In the morning when you wake up you could engage in a habit as a warm-up to get you ready to go to your job.

This could be doing 5 sun salutations of yoga.

This could be scrambling eggs and cutting up an orange.

(I don’t recommend having boxed cereal for breakfast. Nor do I recommend having orange juice. I prefer to scramble eggs with veggies and have an orange.)

This could be taking a shower.

The creative habit you choose to use in the morning—and in winding down at night—is up to you to try out and decide if it works. My ideas above are suggestions. You might find other rituals to engage in that suit you better.

Sometimes it can be jotting 5 things down in a journal that you’re grateful for. Or lying in bed and resting and doing breathing exercises.

A British M.D. in his book How to Make Disease Disappear listed this breathing technique:

Breathe in for a count of 3. Hold your breath for a count of 4. Breathe out for a count of 5.

I use this breathing technique silently wherever I am to cope with stress.

Peer Specialist Ideas

Last week I was asked for ideas about how to succeed in a paid Peer Specialist job. These tactics could work well at any job.

  1. Set boundaries between you and your clients / coworkers.
  2. Create workday rituals—more on this in the next blog entry.
  3. Focus on having conversations with your clients.
  4. View the relationship as an equal partnership.
  5. “Practice what you preach” to clients.
  6. Expect to have setbacks.
  7. Act resilient after a setback—see my blog entry on using FORCE.
  8. Set career goals you want to achieve.
  9. Take walks with your clients should you be able to.

In the words of Pat Deegan Peer Advocate pioneer:

Recovery involves having “the dignity of risk” and “the right to fail.”

Too often peers can buy into the myth of self-stigma and its corollary feeling that we’re not good enough. This is an impossible standard that peers are held to that people who don’t have a mental health issue aren’t held to.

This thinking can be reinforced by outsiders or by ourselves.

I would say the two top tactics for any career are to set boundaries and to set job and career goals. The third tactic is creating daily rituals.

Disarming Dastardly Dan

Now a female coworker can be rude and hostile too.

The person I’ve interacted with on the job was a Dastardly Dan because they have been men.

At one job I simply walked out of the room when the coworker was in the room at the same time.

Luckily I was able to do this.

Sometimes I left the building and walked to a nearby coffee shop to meet an unemployed friend for a hot chocolate.

In most situations at work involving a rude and hostile coworker you won’t be able to bolt at will.

This is where I think beating them at their own game is critical.

Flatter them have conversations with them and try to disarm them.

Whether intentionally or not they’re trying to get a rise out of you to exert control.

When they see you’re not taking their bait this will frustrate them. They might discover it’s not worth their while to continue their behavior.

In the 1990s I worked for a jerk. Leaving that job I went from the frying pan into the fire of another job where I was laid off only three weeks later.

This is why I make the case for investigating non-corporate office jobs and careers that attract people who want to make a difference.

The bottom line is: get an office job should your personality be suited to working in an office. Should you want to work in an office that’s your right.

I work in a library and that’s where I encountered Dastardly Dan.

Rude and hostile coworkers exist everywhere.

Yet you have tactics for managing them. See if anything I’ve written here makes sense.

Forgiving Yourself and Others

This coming week I’ll return to talking about careers with a focus on living through the pandemic.

For the last blog entry of the current week I want to talk about something no one else has talked about:

Forgiving yourself and others.

I think too that each of us needs to forgive the pandemic for disrupting our lives. The outbreak isn’t a real person yet it has damaged a lot of us.

Anxiety and depression were on the rise when people were forced indoors for months on end seemingly without end.

Individuals who work the 12 Steps in addiction recovery are supposed in one of the Steps to make amends and ask for forgiveness.

My contention is that even though a person might not have an addiction you can benefit from taking an inventory of your actions. And asking for forgiveness if you feel something you did harmed another person.

Living through the lingering COVID-19 outbreak I think is the perfect time to engage in a self-improvement project like this.

It’s because in our lifetime none of us has ever had to cope with a setback as challenging and severe as the pandemic.

This is the perfect time to forgive yourself and others.

How many of us can say we’ve been doing everything we’re supposed to do every day of the week?

We are human beings not machines. And sometimes the best of us break down.

Forgiveness is called for. To forgive is to heal.

Benefit of Having a Routine

The number-one benefit of establishing a routine is to feel like you have control over what’s happening in your life.

Ever the trouper that I am it wasn’t until this month that I understood exactly how hard it’s been for me to live under quarantine.

What helped was having a consistent routine all along since my job shut down in March:

I exercised every week for one or two days each week with only a few weeks of not exercising.

I cooked my own dinners 5x per week throughout the last four months.

Having a routine gives a person stability.

A lot of things aren’t under our control. “Let Go–and Let Life” is my motto for accepting what I can’t change.

It hit me only recently that my old routine wasn’t working pre-pandemic. Post-pandemic I was given the hidden opportunity to make changes I might not have made before.

Having to “put out fires” and respond to repeated “emergencies” is no way to live our lives.

By establishing a routine we take back control over what happens in any given week.

Inside of the unpredictability of the COVID-19 outbreak is indeed a silver lining for all of us:

The ability to reclaim our power as individuals living our lives.

My book-publishing goals have been put on hold. Yet inside of this dashed dream I take joy in keeping the 3 blogs.

My intention is that readers can learn from my insight and observations.

Hope is called for. Optimism is called for.

A better day lies ahead. I firmly believe this.

Strategies for Resiliency

In the webinar on managing stress the instructor talked about these things as well:

Building resiliency happens when we are able to feel we’re doing the best we can.

You might not feel like you have control. In fact I believe each of us has more control than we think we do.

My strategy has been to re-frame what I think about a situation or circumstance in my life.

Though the situation or circumstance might not change right now or ever I find that once I change how I view what’s going on it’s easier to cope with.

One strategy for resiliency is to ask what do you want to keep in your life and what do you want to discard.

Setting short-term goals and obtaining support for this is critical.

In the time of the ongoing coronavirus outbreak [which has not ended] I have set only two short-term goals.

Setting up a new weekly routine is my current objective.

I’ll end here by saying what turned around my recovery for the better was when I changed what I thought about having an illness.

Viewing what happened to me as the catalyst for finding my life’s purpose helped me put things in perspective–another strategy for resiliency–maintaining perspective..

Bouncing Back

Last week I attended a webinar on managing stress in a time like the pandemic we’re living through today.

It was said that the art of bouncing back is the ability to modify thoughts actions and behaviors as needed in order to succeed.

The goal is to focus on your zone of control to engage in behaviors that build resilience.

The FORCE of resiliency is comprised of:

Flexibility

Optimism

Resourcefulness

Curiosity

Empathy

To be curious about alternatives to choose from as options to employ strikes a chord with me.

In short keeping an open mind and trying a variety of techniques to see what works.

For too long I’ve put off starting the art practice I want to have. I might have talked in here before about having a practice:

A culinary practice. An exercise practice. And for me I’ve wanted for years to have an art practice.

Seeing how you can impose a structure to your routine could help if you ask me.

I find myself with two and three hour chunks of time. Breaking up the day into time zones for activities can help.

Julie Morgenstern wrote about this in her book Time Management from the Inside Out.

How can any of us bounce back when we feel like we’re adrift with no anchor?

Resiliency requires that you first acknowledge where you are and what capabilities you have right now.

The metaphor is that of “ducks”–where like a duck you have everything together on the surface and underneath you’re pedaling with challenges.

I’ve had my share of challenges since March when my day job shut down. I’m glad we have returned to work this month.

Most people bluff. It’s rare that a person is outspoken about struggling. Maybe you don’t want to appear weak in a country–America–where the myth of rugged individualism persists.

Though I’ve struggled I can vouch for the benefits of cultivating the FORCE of resiliency.

Empathy is called for now more than ever in society.

In the next blog entry I’ll talk more about strategies for resiliency.

Summering in Place

I would rather celebrate Juneteenth than the Fourth of July.

No–I don’t like barbecues because I don’t eat hot dogs and hamburgers. Nor do I like sitting around a patio table doing nothing but talking.

A friend invited himself to my house. On tap: a salad and green beans and chicken cutlets. A lemon pie for dessert.

While the outbreak continues I will talk in here more about goal-setting and bouncing back from a struggle.

I’m set to attend a Zoom meeting on resume and career help during the pandemic when people are losing jobs.

Will give the details in here about what I learn. As well I attended a webinar on managing stress. I’ll share these tactics next week.

For readers everywhere I wish you buona salute that is good health on the Fourth of July.

As Italians say when we raise our glasses in a toast: Salut!

Direction of Blog

I will be taking a break from posting blog entries here until this coming Tuesday.

On Tuesday I will return with the book review of the recovery guide that a peer published to empower readers.

In the future I will be blogging on this website on Tuesdays and Fridays every week.

At this time I’m involved in an outside project.

I want to tell readers of this blog:

Yes–I care about everyone living on earth. I care about peers living in recovery.

It’s because I care that I implore readers:

Refrain from starting to smoke cigarettes.

Refrain from using any kind of street drugs even marijuana.

Recovery is often not possible when you have a mental health issue and an addiction at the same time.

In fact the continued use of street drugs could very well make it impossible for a person to recover.

I care a lot that everyone has the equal opportunity to recover.

On Tuesday of next week I will return with the book review.