Even when something is necessary for us to do, there are hurdles we must overcome to do it. In need of food? Cook at home or go out? What are we going to eat? How long will it take to make? Many questions to answer to get to the end result of being fed. In need of exercise? At home, outside, at a gym? By ourselves or with others? How long and how intense are we looking for the exercise to be? Many more potential questions.

Some questions come with a high requirement for mental energy to answer them. For me, especially if they are outside of my normal weekly food and exercise routine.

So, how does one best prepare to answer these potentially difficult questions in a useful and timely manner?

That’s something I have been trying to figure out for myself, particularly over the past three years. It has been an exercise in intentional focus, acceptance, and perseverance. Intentionality, to choose to improve my decision making skills, especially in stressful situations. Acceptance, that not every attempt at improvement will go as planned. Perseverance, to try and try again, even and especially when something turns out drastically differently to the desired result.

Things are going to be difficult. When we try to do something that is not a usual part of our everyday routine it can feel strange, even daunting. When I started flatting about thirteen years ago, I thought I had a pretty good handle on what living together with non-family would be like. I thought I’d be comfortable cooking together with flatmates, keeping the house tidy, looking after and spending time getting to know each other. For the most part I was ok, but I’ve definitely learned some things along the way.

Accepting everyone brings a different set of skills to a flat is an important step. Working together to create a safe space to call home, rather than thinking someone has done something “wrong” when a thing works out differently than our perspective tells us it might. I’m still learning this, and trying to figure out how I fit into a home.

I’m no master chef, so my confidence for preparing new, unfamiliar meals is low. Even when preparing something I know well it can require a lot of intentional thought and mental energy. But, I’ll happily dive into doing the dishes, or any other related chores, which I find calming and cathartic. For me, the obstacles to perform these different tasks begin at different levels. I’m usually ok cooking or cleaning, but after a particularly stressful day at work, cooking a meal becomes a far less appealing proposition. This is something I am working to accept and improve. For example: what setup can I do on less stressful days to make meal preparation achievable on higher stress days?

Getting enough exercise is another thing that really helps my mental wellbeing. Scheduled times to exercise, like ultimate frisbee leagues, running with friends, personal training sessions at the gym, all help. These are all things I know when, where, and what I’ll be doing, so dodge around some obstacles which could present themselves.

However, if regular scheduled exercise is not available, like in lockdown when team sports and attending in person personal training sessions are not possible, I can struggle. Having people go out with me, or check if I have been for a walk on a particular day is helpful. Scheduling times each day is also a good way to give my mind regularity to focus on. It does not negate the difficulty of having to motivate myself to do the exercise, but it helps.

Obstacles can be overcome, even ones which seem impossibly high and have few handholds to climb with. A little focus, a little patience, a fair amount of work, and we will overcome them.

* * *

Are there any common hurdles for you?

Was there anything in the past that helped you overcome them?

* * *

No matter what we face in life, we can find a way to get through it. Friends, a little faith, and a lot of food for energy. Those are things that usually help.


Cover photo by Tobias Aeppli from Pexels.


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