Reader Friday – Comfort Zones

Reader Friday – Comfort Zones

Comfort ZonesMost of us will admit that 2020 has had plenty of added stress. We all have different ways of coping. Hiking, reading, meditating. I discovered my stress reliever turned out to be watching the Great British Baking Show. Even though I can’t understand half of what they’re saying, there was something about the show that pulled me away from my real world, which is surprising, since baking is a whole different game at 9100 feet!

What’s your comfort activity? Did it change in 2020?

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52 thoughts on “Reader Friday – Comfort Zones

  1. The place I work locked the doors and told everybody to go home. This was the first week of March. April came I was still stuck at home. (Went back to work in August). I somewhat randomly came across a workout video on Youtube, a man and a woman doing basically the same routine (a tough and a slightly easier version), and said, “I can do that. I SHOULD do that.”
    I couldn’t finish the workout – it killed me (and I was doing the easy version). But I kept at it, every other day I was in my basement sweating like crazy and breathing like a bellows for 35 minutes.
    I’m still doing that same workout, three to four times a week. I feel great when I’ve done it and it really does relax me for the rest of the day, and the next. I feel physically unwell if I miss two sessions in a row.
    (And, I’ve lost 28 pounds – a nice bonus). 🙂

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    • That reminds me of the HASfit videos–is that what you’re referring to? I always thought that was a cool idea–showing the tougher/harder workouts side by side.

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    • Good for you, Carl! I do miss that our yoga classes were cancelled, although there are plenty of online practices, even some given by our instructor. I use the flimsy excuse that there’s not enough room to set up. I have a recumbent bike downstairs that I could/should be using (and I could watch comfort TV while I do.) I just … don’t. But we do go on more walks with the dog, and where we live those are hikes.

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    • Funny story (to me, anyway.) When I was writing “Remaking Morgan” with a classical pianist protagonist, I asked Alexa to play classical piano, mostly to find pieces my protagonist would play. My dog started coming into my office and flopping down. I ended up getting her a bed for the room, and making her a playlist of classical music. She still will come in and stare at Alexa until I order the playlist, and she finds the music (as far as I can tell) comforting.

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  2. For the general stress it’s things like more prayer and being even more attentive than I usually am to give thanks for the magnificence and comfort and steadiness of creation–watching every sunrise and sunet, gazing in wonder at the mountains, and appreciating the simplicity and noble spirit of dogs even more than usual.

    But one hard-core tactic helped me deal with the stress. In my job as an Admin Assistant this year, it just so happened that we had a huge data project, for data that had to be assembled into tables, linked up, etc in preparation for uploading and visualization and reports. When I look back on this year I am very thankful for the timing of that project because when you have to concentrate that carefully to make sure the data is accurate, you have to make sure you can properly cross link the tables so that the reports will return good data–you have to focus so hard on accuracy that it blissfully crowds out all thoughts of what’s going on in the world. It’s like putting yourself in a bubble and blocking out the world.

    I’m a data-nerd anyway, but until this year I had no idea that being a data geek was good for your mental health. Now I know.

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    • Thanks for sharing your story, BK. I agree. Right now, I’m busy with my first round edits, which means I’m in my reading chair away from my computer reading from hard copy and marking up the text. Amazing how less stressful a day away from the outside world can be.

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  3. Reading in my recliner, the place where my back finds the most comfort, the place where the demands and intrusions of the day cannot find me, and, sadly, the place where I can’t read for more than half an hour, because I fall asleep.

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    • I’ve got that same problem, Steve. Which is why most of my reading is now done at night in bed. It’s nice to have the brain go somewhere else before falling asleep instead of trying to solve all the problems of the world.

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    • Thanks for the tip and link, Sue. Watching the wildlife from my office windows can help, too.

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  4. On a regular basis,u I do martial arts classes to lower my stress. But when it gets extreme, I put on music really loud (with headphones sometimes to drown everything out) and force myself to do nothing but focus on the words.

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    • I hope you turn down the volume when you’ve got the headphones on, AZAli! 😉 Music is a great “distractor” whether it’s the chamber music Joe prefers or your listening choices.

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  5. Walking is always my go-to stress reliever. Did zumba on YouTube until classes resumed at the gym.

    Mostly, crawling into my fictional world and playing with imaginary friends.

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    • Exercise is a great stress-reducer. I can’t handle anything more aerobic than up and down our hills here. My Versa watch does help keep me moving, though.

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  6. Good topic, Terry. For me, it’s mind-clearing and stress-relieving is best done with physical activity. My favorite activity is swimming (at a local pool), and this year added some profound complications: reserving lanes, wearing masks (not in the water, although I tried it once!), and other COVID-safety measures. And it worked. Until they closed the (outdoor) pool for the season on Oct. 31. Then I moved full-time to my Dig-and-Saw activities on my property. At least once a day (sometimes more), I put on my work clothes and hit the woods around my house. Sometimes I dig a big hole and then fill it back in. Other times, I’ll attack a fallen tree with a small hand saw. I own chainsaws and could make short work of it in 30 mins, but I like to stretch it out over days or even weeks. I’ll saw a bit one day, then a bit more the next. It’s amazing how many story ideas pop out during these mindless activities. And yep, I’ve got my little notebook ready in my back pocket.

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    • Every lumberjack needs to carry a notebook, Harald!
      Physical exertion is definitely a biggie for stress-release. Although digging a hole and filling it in? I’m not sure my brain would let me do that. Unless you dumped a body in it before backfilling it?

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  7. Running has always been a kind of therapy for me. The benefits for both physical and mental health are enormous. When I’m outside running, my mind is absorbed by the audiobook or podcast I’m listening to, and I don’t think about the problems of the world.

    If the weather doesn’t cooperate, I’ll watch a movie while running on the treadmill and try to figure out why the plot does or doesn’t work. It’s always interesting to watch a movie that’s been recommended on TKZ.

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    • Another vote for exercise. I haven’t been on a treadmill since I had surgery and switched to a recumbent bike. My daughter, OTOH, is a triathlete. I get a lot of my exercise wondering what ever possessed her to take up that sport.

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  8. I’ve made several quilts during this 2020 horror show and also like to snuggle down in our TV nook and watch British detective shows (and other dramas). I also like cooking shows even though we eat a vegan diet and they are almost always cooking something we don’t eat.

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    • Ah, someone else who finds sedentary comforts. I used to knit, quit when we moved to Florida and it was too hot. I suppose I could take it up again, but haven’t come across a project I want to undertake.
      I don’t think I ever cook things I see on TV (good excuse for the Baking Show–you can’t do what they’re doing up here at 9100 feet!). We just started watching “New Tricks” on Prime and are enjoying it. There are a bazillion seasons, so it’ll take a while to work through them, especially since we only watch 1 hour of tv together a night.

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  9. Hi, Terry. Lots of comfort activities for me. After giving up the gym in March, my wife and I do Zumba via video with her instructor, and Yoga with Kassandra and Adrienne on their respective YouTube channels, and I weight lift with free weights, all in our living room.

    We started puzzling in April, and have done 13 or 14 so far. Karen Puzzles on YouTube is a delight to watch as she tackles puzzles I could only dream of trying.

    Our game nights went online at Boardgamearena.com this summer. I’ve been a very long time board gamer, and this is a great way to relax and connect with friends (we usually have Zoom or Whereby open on one of our computers so we can visit via video while playing the board games).

    We’ve been binge-watching mystery TV series–our latest comfort viewing is “Midsomer Murders.” I love the cozy with a side of police procedural aspect of the show, and the wry humor.

    Stargazing. This has been huge for me. My parents gave me my first telescope for Christmas when I was eight. I was a passionate amateur astronomy until I was about thirty, and then a combination of light pollution and work schedules pulled me away. Comet Neowise’s arrival in the evening sky this summer during this pandemic pulled me back and I’ve gone out in the evening and before dawn as often as I can, with binoculars and telescope. I find it incredibly comforting, mediative in fact. Yesterday, a writer friend of mine who is also a star gazer sent me a link to an Atlantic Monthly article she liked entitled “Galaxy Brain,” which is about how relaxing viewing the universe can be for your brain, to consider something so much larger than yourself.

    Thank you for this post and all your posts here at KZB. Today’s really struck a chord with me, but I enjoy all of them 🙂

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    • Thanks for being a faithful and regular commenter. I need a nap after reading all the activities you’ve found to fill your comfort zone! My college roommate gave me a Jackson Pollock jigsaw puzzle once, saying she wanted to give me one that would take more than a day to put together.
      You probably would have identified Sirius immediately. It was so bright, and looked almost like there were red running lights, so I thought maybe this was an airline making its normal route, but Hubster went beyond “wondering” and looked it up. Apparently when it’s low in the sky, that’s what it looks like.

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      • It does look like that when it’s low–like a sapphire with red gleams in it. You’ve probably heard about the upcoming “Great Conjunction” of Jupiter and Saturday on the Winter solstice this year, December 21st. The two planets will appear very close to together in the evening sky, low in the southwest. Will be quite a sight to see. Of course, here in western Oregon, clear skies in winter can be quite dicey. I’ve enjoyed watching the two giants draw closer together these past few weeks 🙂

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        • Yes, I’m aware of the “Great Conjunction” and fingers crossed we’ll have clear enough skies. Up here in our area, we don’t have a lot of light pollution, which helps with viewing night skies.

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    • Let me know when you want to play backgammon. I miss playing. I made the mistake of beating my husband at board games early on (his family never played them; mine did), and he won’t play anymore. Cribbage is another one I miss.

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  10. Embarrassingly, I listen to Reddit channels which are a mix of “Ann Landers” and JERRY SPRINGER. I’m reminding myself why human contact isn’t always that great since I’d run screaming if I met most of these human trainwrecks in the real world.

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    • Haven’t tried that approach yet, Marilynn. Being a loner has always appealed to me, and we live in a relatively remote area, so that part of my lifestyle hasn’t changed.

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      • I’m a happy introvert, too, but I live alone, and even I am having trouble dealing with it. A doctor appointment recently made me realize I hadn’t felt another human’s touch since my last appointment six months before. That’s alone.

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        • There’s me, the Hubster, and Feebie the Dog, so I haven’t had total alone-alone. I’ve had a doctor’s appointment, a dental appointment, one hair appointment, and a couple of safe masked distanced visits from my kids. My most frequent “contact” is when the guy at Walmart puts my groceries into the back of my car.

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  11. Dog videos. I’ve never watched so many dog videos since the bug arrived. For me, dogs are the new normal. Stay physically and mentally well, everyone!

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    • You can’t go wrong. I’ve always loved dogs and in particular Labrador Retrievers. I have never appreciated those photos and videos more than this year!

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  12. We walk. With our dog.

    When I’m in my office, music, music, music.

    When we find the stress catching up with us, we put in one of our dozens and dozens of shoot ’em up police or cowboy movies, the kind where the bad guys get what’s coming to them.

    Now, don’t judge me on this next part, okay?

    We’re lucky enough to be members of a local indoor range. If watching a movie doesn’t work, we grab our go-to-The-Range bags and practice with our *ahem* tools, of which we have many. Both of us are fair marksmen.

    There’s just something satisfying about punching a hole in the bull’s eye… 🙂

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    • I’m jealous. That’s on my list of learn-to-do’s but I don’t have a place in the near vicinity to go to. As huge as this county is you’d think there’d be more options.

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  13. The Hubster envies you a local indoor range. Heck, he’d envy any local range, indoors or out.

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  14. Terry, Sometimes we have no control over comfort; sometimes its just a touch away. I have cancer, but still here. 2020 seems to have been uncomfortable; but there is always something worst. Maybe if we would take out minds off of ourselves and think of others it could be better; why not try it on for size. And if we can still type, we can turn our imagination loose on something happier than a present condition, I’ve been fooling it for years and I’m still here. Unfortunately, so is my unfinished story.

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  15. So sorry to hear about your health issues, Gerald. And yes, bad as we think things are, sadly enough, they could be worse. Getting out of ourselves and turning to others is an excellent thought. Giving comfort to others can give it to ourselves as well.
    As JSB would say, “Carpe Typem.”

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  16. Two things surprised me

    First, I started reading westerns. It was harder for me to relayed to contemporary fiction. I wanted to be swept away to a completely different time and place. It’s been delightful and my WIP is now a western, too. That being said, I recently read JSB’s novella, Framed, and loved it.

    Second, I hadn’t played video games in 10 years. But me and 3 of my fellow dad buddies all went out and bought playstations and we play together online for a happy hour from 9:30-10:30 every night. It’s a chance to talk via the headsets and bust chops over how bad us old guys are at a kid’s game.

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  17. A new genre opens up a whole new world. Even more exciting when it prompts a new story. Thanks for sharing, Philip.
    I’m still bogged down in Word With Friends and a bunch of solitaire games when it comes to game playing. And a little Candy Crush to pass the time, too.

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    • That one’s kind of hard to do ‘virtually’, Catfriend. Hope you’ve found a substitute.

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  18. My daughter and I love the Great British Baking Show. The contestants are funny and supportive. The judges know how to be kind while being truthful. I’m also enjoying reading the Beaufort Scales series by Kim M. Watt. They’re cozy not-murder mysteries that feature tea-and-cake eating dragons and elderly members of the Women’s Institute solving various crimes in the vicinity of their quaint English village. They’re good low-stress fun, which is what we’re gravitating towards at the moment.

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  19. I have loved to do adult coloring. The problem lately is it is hard for me to see all the intricate lines. I have recently discovered that there are now adult coloring apps on my Fire tablet and I can increase the pictures as I do the font for reading. I like the color by numbers. It is my de-stressor.

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    • Technology to the rescue. I remember big coloring posters from the late 60s-early 70s. We never finished the one we started.

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