Wicked Wednesday–Taking a Breath

It’s a busy time here at Wicked Cozy Authors World Headquarters. We have three book birthdays in October (Sheila Connolly, A Gala Event, Julianne Holmes, Just Killing Time and upcoming, Maddie Day, Flipped for Murder) and we have three in November  (Susannah Hardy Olive and Let Die, Level Best Books, Best New England Crime Stories 2016: Red Dawn and Sadie Hartwell, Yarned and Dangerous.) Throw in Bouchercon in October, and Crime Bake in November, and, well, it gets a little crazy.

So, today’s Wicked Wednesday is about taking a breath. Wickeds, how do you recharge your batteries when you only have a few down minutes or hours between one frantic activity and the next?

Edith: May I just add that IN BETWEEN Bouchercon and Crime Bake I’m headed out to MagnalogoIndiana for six days to personally launch Flipped for Murder at the Magna Cum Murder conference in Indianapolis and then at three author events around the lower third of the state. So recharging is going to be very important.

One thing I do at conferences is just lie down flat on the bed and breathe deeply for five minutes. Even if I wish I had time for a nap but don’t, having a mini-liedown/meditation (snort, I just typed “medication”…) break really helps. And if I have a half hour or more, I tie on my tennies and take a good brisk walk. Maybe I don’t have time to change into exercise clothes or take a shower afterward. Still, getting my blood moving, my oxygen replenished, and my energy recharged is a huge boost to me.

Liz: I’ve been trying to be more mindful and take mental breaks when I’m getting overwhelmed. Like Edith, I like to walk if I can fit it in, or even just run around the yard with the dogs for a few minutes. I also got one of those adult coloring books-I’ve always loved to color-and five minutes focusing on that improves my mood immediately.
I have a trampoline set up near my office, so if I’m working from home I can use that for five minutes here and there. I’m trying to meditate more, too…but I get distracted so easily!

Sherry: If I’m at a conference escaping to my room for five minutes alone or with a couple of good friends is great for relaxing. Eating a few nuts or some other protein if I’m feeling sluggish also helps. At home, taking a reading break helps me escape from whatever is making me feel overwhelmed.

Jessie: Whenever I feel frazzled and overwhelmed by what-all is swirling round my head, I sit down and make a list. So often everything is a lot more manageable when it is written down in black and white. I also always have a knitting project on the needles, and for me, there is no better way to unwind than to add a few rows to a work-in-progress.

Barb: I was going to say play solitaire on my computer (or iPad or phone or whatever device is at hand). Isn’t that what everybody does? But then I realized that might not be quite in the spirit, so I’ll go with the “water cure.” In Key West I swim in it, in Maine I gaze at it. Somehow, being near water relaxes me. I think it’s in the human DNA.

Readers, how do you take a breather during a busy day or week?

33 Thoughts

  1. 5 or 10 minute meditation, usually a guided one, via YouTube for a quick hit. A walk if I have more time. I would LOVE to take the water cure, but I’d have to do it in my bathtub, and that’s not as fun as the beach.

  2. At the risk of sounding, okay, old, I’ve learned to take afternoon naps (often with a cat). I used to hate them–I always woke up feeling sluggish and cranky. Now I find they really do help. Also, if I’m traveling somewhere, sometimes I force myself to just stop, sit down, and look and listen. Nature is good, but people-watching in a city works too (and sometimes produced story ideas!).

  3. Power napping works for me. About 20 minutes is best. Sometimes I even have an idea for where the story needs to go next by the end of that time. The risk is that I often want to keep napping for an hour or two! I probably need the sleep, but it doesn’t do much for my productivity and at conferences it can mean that I miss the panel or other event I was resting up for.

  4. Yes to nuts for a quick protein fix. Yes, yes to lists! They bring order to life. Yes, yes, yes to salt water, wherever you can get in it, watch it, smell it. No to naps (for me) at this point, but as a substitute I do five minutes of “Legs Up the Wall,” which is a simple yoga inversion. Get on the floor, park your butt up against the wall and rest your legs against the wall. You will not believe how the stress feels like it is draining right out of you.

    1. Does it help your back too? Of course, I’d have to find a wall space that isn’t already filled with bookshelves.

      At one of the Bcon panels (they’re beginning to run together–it could have been the paranormal one), people offered other stress-relieving ideas. One was to hold your arms out in front of you at shoulder height, palms facing out; hold that pose for a minute, then slowly move your hands apart. It’s supposed to release psychic energy or something. The other one (from a different panel?) was to hold your forearms up vertically and rotate your hands 180 degrees–good if you’ve been sitting at your keyboard for too long. Whatever works!

  5. Hello! I am taking a course with Sylvia Boorstein, Buddhist teacher at Spiritrock, CA on everyday mindfulness. Several breathing exercises work for me. From Thai (Thich Nhat Hahn), “Breathing in I invite life. Breathing out, I smile.” Another practice is the Metta Prayer: May I feel well, May I feel contented. May I feel safe. May I live life in peace….. THEN May you feel well, May you feel contented. May you feel safe. May you live in peace. Attention to breath is key, and it doesn’t take long. Mary Ellen @LatelaMary

  6. I know I am feeling super stressed when my legs feel wobbly and I can hardly walk. One method I have for helping me relax is to stand and breathe deeply, imagining that I am pulling the air up through my feet and then pushing it out threw my feet again. It is amazing how effective this is in helping me relax. And you can do it anywhere, regardless of who is around.

  7. I find that I can keep going most of the time pretty well, but come Friday night, I can’t think worth anything. I don’t even fight it any more, I just come home and veg.

    I used to find that diving into a pool was a great way to destress and clear my mind. Now I find that running does the same thing for me.

  8. Yes please to whoever mentioned BOOKMARKS! Sheila, and all the Wicked Authors… SEND ME YOUR BOOKMARKS AND COVER CARDS! I dispense them with love to six library branches in TWO counties. I can never have too many to stuff into the Magic Swag Bag.

  9. In honor of your post, I just took a nap that came on so fast and so hard that I woke up half an hour later and didn’t think I’d fallen asleep yet! Now I’m getting ready to write and the cat is sitting next to me snoring. We clearly needed to take a breath of our own today. 🙂

      1. Yes! It’s so relaxing. If you can’t find a class near you, look for DVDs by Dr. Paul Lam. If you’re coming to St. Louis, you can visit our class at the Y.

  10. Love “the water cure”. Sometimes, I just step out on my little porch and gaze into the trees. There’s an enduring world out there with creatures going about their day. Makes me smile! –kate

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