I'm a therapist who traded in typical self-care advice for daily adrenaline boosts. Here's why it's working — and how anyone can put it into practice.

Amy MorinAmy Morin on her sailboat home with her dog.
  • Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, licensed clinical social worker, mental strength coach, and international bestselling author.
  • During the pandemic, Morin has been working from her sailboat home with little social interaction or outside activities, which she says for some can be a recipe for depression.
  • Instead of going the traditional self-care route, she decided to step up her routine by scheduling time every day to take her WaveRunner out for a spin on the water.
  • Self-care doesn’t all have to be aromatherapy or spa day-related, Morin says. An adrenaline-boosting activity can help clear your mind, and give you something to look forward to on a regular basis.
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As an author, much of my time is spent staring at my laptop. I’m also a speaker, so in the pre-pandemic era, I spent a lot of time travelling to speaking engagements.

Amy morin psychotherapistCourtesy of Amy MorinAmy Morin.

I love meeting new people, visiting fun places, and talking to new audiences about mental strength.

By mid-March, however, all of my business-related travel got cancelled for the foreseeable future. So like many people, I found myself working from home all the time with no place to go.

I should mention that for me, home is a sailboat. And while the view is always great, it’s not the most spacious place to work.

The living room is also the office… and the dining room. At the moment, it’s also my podcast studio. I sit in the same spot whether I’m eating, watching TV, or working.

And while I can go outside to get a change of scenery in the middle of the day, the summer heat in South Florida drives me back into the air-conditioned boat pretty fast.

As a therapist, I know staring at the same walls day in and day out with little social interaction is a recipe for depression. So I stepped up my self-care routine.

I knew I didn’t need the ‘traditional self-care’ suggestions that are meant to help you unwind.

Meditation, journaling, or a bubble bath weren’t going to cut it. I needed excitement — like an adrenaline rush.

I’m fortunate to have a WaveRunner and since I live on the water (literally), I can take it out whenever I want. But it’s easy to let the days pass by without ever taking advantage of that.

So I decided to put “wave running” into my calendar. I scheduled it in, just like I would a business meeting, that at least two times a week, I’d take the WaveRunner out in the middle of the afternoon.

Amy morin waverunner 2Amy MorinMorin aboard her WaveRunner.

I chose the middle of the afternoon deliberately. Even though I’ve been self-employed and in charge of my own schedule for years, there’s still something about taking an extended break on weekday afternoons that makes me feel like I’m “skipping school.” And I like the feeling that I’m doing something slightly rebellious.

Riding a personal watercraft in the Florida Keys in the middle of a week day afternoon makes me feel alive — during a time when the news is trying to convince me that the world is falling apart.

Not only is a quick WaveRunner ride fun, but it has a great side effect too — it makes me more productive.

Amy Morin author on a sailboatAmy MorinMorin working on the couch in her sailboat home.

When I know the plan is to go for a ride in the afternoon, I get more done in the morning. I don’t get distracted by social media or head down the rabbit hole of random media stories. I stay on task. After doing something fun, I’m more productive when I get back to work too. When I feel better, I do better.

It’s slightly embarrassing to admit this felt like a revelation to me. It’s something I’ve encouraged therapy clients to do for years. In the professional setting, we call it “pleasant activity scheduling.”

That doesn’t just mean do something fun when you feel like it.

The key to getting the most benefit means putting that enjoyable activity in your schedule.

Amy Morin waverunner 5Amy MorinMorin on the water riding her WaveRunner.

Don’t just do something fun when you feel like it, make it a priority in your routine. Not only does this increase the likelihood that you’ll actually do it, but scheduling it also gives you something to look forward to.

And when you have something to look forward to, you get an instant boost in your mood. Then, when you do that fun activity, you’ll get a second boost in your mood. Finally, after you’ve done that enjoyable thing, you get a third boost in your mood because you’ve created a positive memory.

It’s easy to forget how something that seems so simple can have such a big impact. Scheduling something fun is tougher during the pandemic when you can’t do a lot of the activities you might normally enjoy — like going to the movies or attending a concert.

And I know not everyone has a personal watercraft at their disposal. But, if you can find something fun to do on a regular basis, it can boost your mood and help you feel better.

Self-care doesn’t have to involve putting cucumbers on your eyes or lighting scented candles.

Instead, self-care involves doing what’s good for you in the long-term. And what’s good for me right now just happens to involve skimming across the saltwater on a personal watercraft on a random weekday afternoon.

This Business Insider article was originally published on August 22, 2020.

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