Feel-Good Classics OR Sick Cinema

Let’s take it easy this week. I just got my second COVID-19 vaccine today and am looking forward to watching movies and relaxing all weekend while my body does its thing. That got me thinking — what are THE BEST movies for sick days? Here’s a quick list of my top 5 why they’re so great. I think of them as feel-good classics or “sick cinema,” if you will.

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  1. Howl’s Moving Castle
    What makes this movie so awesome? It’s not just a visual feast, but a heartwarming story of a woman learning to live for herself but still caring for others.
    Best Part: Billy Crystal’s Calcifer voice acting
    Weakest Part: The meandering ending

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  1. The Princess and the Frog
    The music in this is just splendid, but the characters are the most memorable. And, for me, the lesson Tiana learns always hits hard. Best Part: The Shadow Man scenes
    Weakest Part: Charlotte La Bouff’s obliviousness

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  1. The Princess Bride
    The movie quite literally opens with a framework story where a young boy is sick in bed. What other setup do you need to know this is a great movie for when you’re sick? But, as the grandpa says, it has “…fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”
    Best Part: “As you wish”
    Weakest Part: Inigo Montoya after the 100th time

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  1. Clue
    Cult classic comedy with some rockstar performances with amazing one-liners. What could be better when you’re under the weather?
    Best Part: “Flames…on the side of my face”
    Weakest Part: Professor Plum being a lech…

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  1. IT (The 90s Miniseries Version)
    Do you need to feel like you’re losing your touch with reality? Do you want to feel like you’re being pursued by a homicidal supernatural clown? Do you want to question the interconnectedness of the entire Kingverse? Well, the original IT miniseries is there for you; best watched while you have a fever and are going in and out of consciousness.
    Best Part: The realization that all of the victims had incredibly successful lives
    Worst Part: The realization that they all ended up back in their hometown

That’s it. Those are my 5 recommendations for sick cinema viewing. I’m looking forward to binge watching all of those, and then some, while modern science works on my body to make me better than I was before. If you’re able, go get vaccinated! And give these movies a try if your side effects are gross.

Self-Deprecation is not Appreciated OR Put Down the Put-Downs

We all have those moments in conversations where we go on autopilot, right? The “uh-huh”s and the “yep”s that just feed into the exchange of noises between two human beings. This usually happens without any meaning behind it, but what about some of the other phrases we utter? “Oh no!” or “that’s so crazy” easily slip out of our mouths without so much as a second thought. 

But what about those phrases that land like a lead balloon in the space between two people; the unintentional attack, the triggering phrase, the remark with a little too much criticism? Recently, I noticed a colleague giving a string of compliments that caught my attention. Not because of the sentiment, or the situation, but the fact that they always included self-deprecation. Compliments like, “oh, you’re so great at that—I could never do that!” and, “thank goodness you’re on this team, I’d be so lost without your help.” 

On the surface, they’re run-of-the mill compliments among coworkers, right? I don’t my colleague gave a second thought to the actual phrasing of the compliments. However, as someone who’s particularly prone to negative self-talk, those self-deprecating comments threw up a red flag to me immediately. Putting yourself down, even in a seemingly harmless way such as when trying to underscore a compliment to someone else, isn’t a problematic habit at the best of times. In the current state of the world, it’s even worse to have your own brain throwing shade at you. 

During a one-on-one meeting with that colleague, they gave me another self-deprecating compliment and I couldn’t restrain myself. I gently retorted that they could, in fact, do the Excel formula I was showing them if they wanted. “You don’t give yourself enough credit—you’re a talented, intelligent person,” was more-or-less my response. That caused them to pause and then agree with me. I’m not sure if I really did anything to help my colleague in that exchange, but I hope I did. 

Afterward, I wanted to know more about what causes people to couple compliments with self put-downs, so I did a little bit of research. What I found while researching was quite surprising.

As suspected, self-deprecating compliments were frequently tied to negative self-talk. Additionally, several articles I found indicated it was more common among women, and especially related to compliment each others’ appearance. As a cisgender man with no psychological training, I am not qualified to discuss this, so I will just leave it as an observation. 

Negative self-talk is a common issue many people face, whether they realize it or not. So, what does someone do if they realize it? Not everyone lets their negative self-talk leak out into their external conversations for other people to point out. Thankfully, there is a lot of information and many helpful tips available online, mostly based in cognitive behavioral therapy. Linked below are a few good articles to read if you’re interested in more information.

The common themes that stand out among all of these is firstly identifying that it’s happening, repackaging the talk from a global statement to a specific situation, and realizing when you’re barking unrealistic expectations at yourself rather than being your own friend. 

During my own mental health journey, I’ve realized that words have a lot of power—the words we use with others and the words we use with ourselves. Be careful with them. 

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

Let’s De-Stress This Mess OR Amateur Photography Hour

Do you ever have one of those meetings? Like, the kind where you are legitimately angry that you wasted precious moments of your life on so much drivel? After it’s over you tab through the open windows on your desktop, unable to focus on anything. The righteous indignation over someone stealing a segment of your time on this earth to accomplish literally preventing your productivity from taking root.

Yeah, those kinds of meetings happen a lot these days. I feel like the relationship between hours spent on Zoom and amount accomplished per meeting are negatively correlated. Who knows if it’s because we’re all suffering from late-stage Zoom fatigue, languishing as the New York Times article suggested, or if Parkinson’s law is really making itself known. Whatever the cause, meetings have just really been sucking the soul out of me, through my eyeballs and my ear holes. I can’t imagine I’m the only one who’s feeling this way, 13 months into full-time working from home.

Staring out of the window into the sunny day has been a restorative mental break.

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However, the other day I had a short break between meetings and decided to seize the day and go for a quick walk in the sunlight. Spring in Indiana is a mixed bag for someone with allergies, but you can’t deny the flowers blooming and trees bursting into green is splendid. I took a moment to capture a few photos of the greenery on my constitutional. Some of the good ones are right below here. #NoFilter, as it were.

It’s not quite as nice as actually going for a walk, but hopefully the photos helped recharge you a bit as well, dear reader. Take the time to stop and smell the roses today.