This business of not having a job outside the home is lovely. I can arrange my day so I’m writing at the best time for my brain to write. I have the luxury of riding a pony once or twice a week (which puts me around horse people, never a bad thing). I am even (do not quote me) getting after a few long-deferred house projects.
What’s not to love? I think this is how we were born to thrive, rather than starting the day tearing out the door to Go to Work, by means of a stinky old commute, to a place our family and friend don’t see us, while doing stuff that makes money mostly for somebody else. Just my opinion, (and just what worked for us as a species for most of history recorded and otherwise).
Nonetheless, there is a downside–for me–to working and living in the same place. In as much as that commute resulted in a change of scene, a change of focus, a change of identity, I no longer have that. I can mentally hamster wheel ALL DAY, which is fine when a book is working, and utter misery when I’m worrying about the state of the world.
So I did me some research into the quality of resilience, the ability to shrug off anxiety, trauma, stress, and resume productive and happy life after hitting a pothole. How do people learn to bounce? To get up that seventh time? The answers were fairly easy to find, and at the top of the list was… (drum roll, please)… not exercise! (That was a relief.)
At the top of the list was having a core set of values that help define who you are. If you know what you believe in, what you’d march for, then it’s easier to get back to being that person after a storm, and it’s easier to hang onto her through the foul weather. Another factor high on the list was having strong community to call upon.
One study looked at people in a medical setting getting bad news. If they had a loved one with them, their heart rate and blood pressure returned to normal sooner after getting the bad news than if they were unaccompanied. The support person didn’t have to say anything, do anything, offer a hug or a tissue, they just had to be there.
Exercise and learning new things did figure on the list too. Why? Because both build new neural pathways in the old braineroo, and part of resilience is training your mind not to get stuck in a worry/anxiety/blue rut. If you have other paths to send your neural impulses down, the ruts have less gravity.
And so I bethought unto myself: Isn’t this what happens in a good romance novel? Somebody finds–or two people find–the person who can help them stay centered, the person who forces them to refine their values and identity, the person who boosts them into new adventures and strengths despite adversity? No wonder we love our HEAs. They are a recipe for a life of love and joy even amid trouble.
Because Valentine’s Day is this week, I’m upping the gift card to $75. How do you weather the big black moments and move on from them?