wabi-sabi 6.2.21

power of sitting out, wake up earlier, how are you really?

Good Morning Beautiful People,

Welcome to the wabi-sabi letter, the digital newsletter that promotes healthy living, wellness, mental health awareness, fitness, positive habits, and all around happiness. Clear your head and cleanse your inbox with a tiny space for wellness as you set your intentions for the day. Badabing badaboom.

Naomi Osaka & The Power of Sitting Out

Naomi Osaka’s withdrawal this week from the French Open has been making headlines in recent days as she has cited mental health reasons (and the press) as stressors inhibiting her ability to perform (not to mention a hefty fine as a result of skipping out on press conferences in the name of mental health). Jonathan Liew penned this interesting piece We’re not the good guys: Osaka shows up problems of press conferences for the Guardian, leading with the question “are we the baddies?”

To which we say, probably. Matthew Smith, a professor of health history at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, said in an email to The New York Times that his research suggested athletes appeared more willing to discuss mental health over the last decade or so than before. They were perhaps partly driven, he said, by suicides and abuses in sports that had stirred wider conversations about topics once deemed taboo.

“Historically, athletes have been reluctant to talk about their mental health, not least because it could be used against them,” he said. He noted that sports were rife with problems, including racism, homophobia, sexism and perfectionism, that can contribute to struggles with mental health.

Recognizing your worth in a situation, and opting out, can be a powerful tool to promote change.

Action Item: Reflect on how you can set boundaries for your mental health today, in relationships, work life and your various obligations that no longer serve you.

For more inspiration, check out the new book Bravey in which olympic runner Alexi Pappas shares her experience with depression, high-performance and resiliency.

A Study Telling You To Wake Up Earlier

A new genetic study published on May 26 in the journal JAMA Psychiatry found that waking up just one hour earlier could reduce a person's risk of major depression by 23%.

The study of 840,000 people, by researchers at University of Colorado Boulder and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, represents some of the strongest evidence yet that chronotype -- a person's propensity to sleep at a certain time -- influences depression risk.

It's also among the first studies to quantify just how much, or little, change is required to influence mental health. As people emerge, post-pandemic, from working and attending school remotely -- a trend that has led many to shift to a later sleep schedule -- the findings could have important implications.

"We have known for some time that there is a relationship between sleep timing and mood, but a question we often hear from clinicians is: How much earlier do we need to shift people to see a benefit?" said senior author Celine Vetter, assistant professor of integrative physiology at CU Boulder. "We found that even one-hour earlier sleep timing is associated with significantly lower risk of depression."

Action Item: Ok fine, we’ll try it out. Of course, we have ways to “trick yourself” into incrementally waking up earlier from Fast Company.

Bored, Anxious, Hopeful: How Are You, Really?

“Information is food for our brain,” Dr. Brewer, author of the new book “Unwinding Anxiety: New Science Shows How to Break the Cycles of Worry and Fear to Heal Your Mind” tells the New York Times. “But when there is continuous uncertainty that we can’t resolve, that leaves people feeling anxious. They can feel overwhelmed because there’s not a resolution; the brain is not able to solve the problem. That leaves them feeling frazzled, tired and exhausted.”

The good news is that times of uncertainty are also opportunities for personal growth and building resilience. Studies show that periods of disruption, like moving to a new town or getting divorced — or living through a pandemic — can also be opportunities for breaking bad habits and starting healthy new ones. Find this challenge from the New York Times on identifying our feelings emerging from our collective indoor slumber:

The Challenge

Today, ask yourself “How are you, really?” Think before you answer. Find a word that describes exactly what you’re feeling. Unsettled? Energetic? Delighted? Frazzled? (Avoid standard answers like “good,” “fine,” or “OK.”) Emotions are brain messengers, and studies show that regularly labeling your emotions and creating a “feeling vocabulary” is good for your health.

Identifying your emotions takes practice. Hoffman Institute Foundation has a list of 300 feeling words to help people tune into their exact emotional state. You can download the complete feelings list here.

Here are a few options:

  • Positive moods: amazed, appreciative, confident, determined, energized, grounded, inspired, optimistic, refreshed, worthy

  • Negative moods: anxious, bitter, disappointed, edgy, exasperated, gloomy, grouchy, lonely, powerless, weary

Action Item: Ground yourself in sifting through the descriptors for your emotions from a micro-daily view to a big picture feeling of the season. Be ok with conflicting emotions, not everything has to be a cohesive story.

Like us? Share the well(th) with your friends & family. 

You're amazing. Enjoy the world today.


wabi-sabi team