T-SQL Tuesday #134: Breaks for Mental Health

Welcome back for another edition of T-SQL Tuesday. This month’s edition is hosted by James McGillivray (b|t), who asks us to write a post about how we take breaks for our mental health. I’m going to share about two things I try to do.

Looking Inward

Throughout my life, I’ve dabbled with meditation but like exercise, never quite got fully into it. But there are lessons that I have learned, that I leverage regularly. These include basic breathing techniques to help calm myself. And I’ve found the ability to quiet my mind to also be invaluable (though it doesn’t always work for me). But what I’ve come to appreciate most is learning how to be mindful of and focus on my surroundings.

If you’re curious about meditation, the two smartphone apps that I found helpful are Headspace and Insight Timer. I find guided meditations useful. But alas, like daily exercise, I just sucked at getting into a routine and sticking with it. But if you can succeed where I’ve failed, then you too can reap the benefits of regular meditation.

Making Music for Money? Making Music for Me

The above is the title of an old, obscure Jimmy Buffett song. I’ve always enjoyed listening to music, but hated the piano lessons that my mother forced me to take in my early years. Funny how things have come full circle and I’ve picked up an instrument again.

Back in the fall of 2020, I gifted Deborah Melkin (b|t) with a new Martin 000-16GT. As a result, I decided to start dabbling with her Epiphone PR-4E, which served her well for many years as her starter guitar. I was particularly motivated to learn guitar by various articles I’ve read, which talk about learning new skills to get more fulfillment out of life. Given that we’re stuck in quarantine hell and I no longer have my dogs, why not?

L to R: Epiphone PR-4E (old) & a Martin 000-16GT (new)

Justin Guitar’s beginner series has been invaluable in my guitar learning journey. It’s funny to me that like exercising, the first few weeks were THE WORST! It was when I was most excited and wanted to devote lots of time to learning, but couldn’t thanks to finger pain and lack of callouses. But I’m finally past that hurdle now. Like meditation and exercise, I don’t practice daily, but the desire is still there and I get back to it in fits and spurts, with aspirations to continue my learning.

It Just Takes a Few Minutes

Heck, when I decided to write this blog, I pulled the guitar out and started practicing a new chord, a finger stretch exercise, and practiced a basic strumming pattern. And it FELT GOOD! Just a 10-15 minute tangent… but you know what? It was better for my mental health than doomscrolling or some of the other mindless habits that I’ve gotten into to pass the time, that do nothing for my mental health.

And sometimes, even just a few minutes of peace and quiet enough to soothe the soul.