Self-Care Sunday

Stress: The final frontier.  

There's something about the way I deal with stress that is the absolute worst -- essentially I don't deal with it and then it manifests itself within me as physical pain.  It seems this is pretty much my M.O.  I am often stressed and don't realize it, or assume that what I'm feeling is just "normal every day stress" (and what even is that, anyway?! #workaholic), and then the next thing I know I'm debilitated by a migraine or a belly ache or something funky.  The past week has been pretty awful in the way of my stress-pain.  I wake up and have to literally unlock my jaws from how tightly I've had my teeth clenched all night.  I'm getting brutal headaches.  I felt like I had the flu on Friday.  It sucks.  So I'm making an effort to practice a little extra self-care.

And so should you.  It's ever so necessary right now.  

I've listed some ideas below for practicing your own self-care, as well as a few uplifting links.  And of course, I'll happily accept any recommendations!

 

  • Get outdoors.  Go cloud-watching.  Walk your dog.  Lie on your back, relax, and watch the sky.
  • Watch something that makes you laugh. I've been playing stand-up and Parks and Rec, in particular.
  • Punctuate your day with a mini-meditation with one minute and awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and one minute of focused attention on breathing; and one minute of awareness of the body as a whole.
  • Be selfish! Do one thing a day just because it makes you happy.
  • Do a mini-declutter. Clean up that junk mail pile that's been building, fold that mess of laundry, or just change the sheets on your bed.  Your exterior space is a reflection of your inner-space (aka your brain), so make it more peaceful and reap the rewards!
  • Unplug for an hour. Switch everything to airplane mode and free yourself from the constant bings of social media and email.  
  • Turn off the TV.  Keep it off. And definitely don't watch the news.
  • Talk to a stranger.  Nicely.  Make a connection, even if it's just with your barista or mail person.
  • Edit your social media feeds, and take out any negative people. Just do it, and don't allow yourself to feel guilt.  You don't owe them anything, and if they're toxic, get those suckers out!  (I am a particular fan of this type of purge).
  • Oxygenate by taking three purposeful, focused deep breaths and fill out your lungs and belly.
  • Get down and boogie. Put on your favorite upbeat playlist and shake that booty, even if it's just in the shower.
  • Allow yourself a few comfort food indulgences (oh mac and cheese, how I love thee), but focus on filling your body with healthy choices--mostly plants, no processed crap.
  • Activate your self-soothing system. Stroke your own arm, or if that feels too weird, just moisturize.
  • Make yourself a cup of hot tea as an afternoon pick-me-up.  Slow down and breathe in its vapors.  Enjoy that moment (this also tricks you into taking those deep breaths).
  • Give your body a treat. Pick something from your wardrobe that feels great next to your skin.
  • Be still. Sit somewhere green, and be quiet for a few minutes.  (check out this bit on forest bathing)
  • Get some sun, especially if you’re in a cold climate.
  • Light a candle that smells lovely to you, or spray your pillows with some lavender or vanilla.
  • Take a nap. Even just ten to twenty minutes can reduce your sleep debt and leave you ready for action.
  • Be kind to yourself.  Imagine you are your own best friend.  If you were, what would you tell yourself right now? Make that your mantra.
  • Use your commute for a “Beauty Scavenger Hunt.” Find five unexpected beautiful things or people on your way to work.
  • Help someone. Carry a bag, open a door, or pick up an extra carton of milk for a neighbor.
  • Journal.
  • Choose who you spend your time with. Hang out with “Radiators” who emit enthusiasm and positivity, and not “Drainers” whose pessimism and negativity robs energy.
  • Stroke a pet!  If you don’t have one, go volunteer for an afternoon at the animal shelter and find one to snuggle.
  • Have a self-date. Spend an hour alone doing something that nourishes you (reading, your hobby, visiting a museum or gallery, etc.)
  • Exercise a signature strength. Think about what you’re good at, and find an opportunity for it today.
  • Take a home spa. Have a long bath or shower, sit around in your bathrobe, use aromatherapy, and read magazines.

Here are a few uplifting links:

Wait, what exactly is self-care?

Heal from within with this golden milk elixir. 

Surround yourself with the beauty of joy.  The smile project captures the moments photographer Mehmet Genç tells his subjects they are beautiful.  

"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in".  Leonard Cohen on democracy and its redemptions. 

What is kindness?

Browse on Instagram with hashtag #selfcare.

More simple ways to practice self-care.

A self-care guide for when you feel like doggie doodoo.

TED talks on the importance of self-care.

And of course, understanding all this through the science of stress.

The Thing About Bodies, a Follow-Up

I know I promised that my next post after last time would be upbeat, and this isn't entirely NOT upbeat, but I felt really motivated to share one more video with you, especially because of all the really interesting feedback I've gotten since my last post.  

While there have been plenty of heated responses to the aforementioned "Dear Fat People" video, I think Whitney Way Thore from My Big Fat Fabulous Life handled it with grace, dignity, and an admirably positive attitude.

In her response video, Thore (who heads the No Body Shame campaign, aptly abbreviated the No B.S. Campaign!) said, "Fat-shaming is a thing; it's a really big thing, no pun intended. It is the really nasty spawn of a larger parent problem called body-shaming, which I'm fairly certain everyone on the planet, especially women, has experienced."  Um DOYYY.  Thank You.  

Thore makes a smart rebuttal to Arbour's not-so-great points. Take a look:

And I don't want to be misinterpreted.  

For me, this issue goes far beyond the shaming of people for their weight.  It is really representative of a culture not in which its members respect one another or truly encourage each other to be their very best, but rather one intent on bringing others down.  And to me, I wonder why this mentality (which seems so natural to so many of us) is ever necessary?  I just don't think it is.  

Okay.  I've said enough.  Like I promised, there will be a way happier post next time.  Love ya'll!

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The Thing About Bodies

Okay gang.  It's about to get real personal up in hurr.  

Many of you may not know that body positivity is a subject very near and dear to my heart.  You may not know this because I don't tend to talk about it.  Yea, I attach links here and there to body positivity images or articles, but for the most part I keep pretty quiet about it.  Why?  Quite honestly, because I'm embarrassed.  I fear the criticism that I'm bound to hear for standing up for and accepting people for who they are, PERIOD.  And it goes deeper than that.  I deal with personal and embarrassing weight issues.  I have for the majority of my "adult" years (because that term is really objective and I'm pretty sure I'll never actually feel like an adult, I put it in "finger-quotes").  I have dealt with medicine-induced weight gain and battled depression-related eating, not to mention the fact that my body has actually evolved into the body of a woman and not a pubescent girl.  I think part of what embarrasses me is that I always used to be thin.  Not waify, but slender.  And I totally took it for granted.  I ate double helpings of mac n' cheese and put butter on my veggies and drank WHOLE MILK like it was no big thing.  And then my twenties hit and BAM, so did my hips.  Since then my weight has fluctuated pretty consistently, along with my self esteem.  And you know what's bullshit?  That my self esteem is so closely tied to my weight.  Because there is SO MUCH MORE going on with me than just the width of my butt or the softness of my girl belly.  I have had (ex) boyfriends tell me I'd "let myself go" or told me I was "too fat to be attractive" and was the "fat girlfriend"---which blows my mind because I've never even reached the plus-sized category (which I think is also a b.s. categorization, but I'll save that for another day and another rant)!  And that I thought all men knew the (unspoken?) rule that YOU DO NOT CRITICIZE YOUR GIRLFRIEND'S WEIGHT. EVER.  They treated it like it was a case of false advertising: them signing up for some smokin' hottie with curves a skinny waist and instead getting a real life person with lumps and jiggles and a gawd awful sweet tooth.  Forget the fact that while I have had lapses in diet and exercise, for the most part I work DAMN hard to keep myself healthy and strong.  It's obviously what's on the outside that counts.

So imagine my horror when something like this "Dear Fat People" video pops up, just shredding the shit out of anyone who deals with weight issues.  I'll let you watch it and figure out how you feel about it.

So here's the thing.  Besides the fact that she's trying to be Jenna Marbles and that her video editing makes me feel like I could have a seizure at any moment, I really wanted to forgive Nicole.  I want to be like "yea, she cares about people's health and just wants them to take care of themselves".  But the fact of the matter is, why does it frickin MATTER to her how healthy any given person is?  What does it matter to her if someone is fat or thin or gay or lives in their mom's basement or dips their french fries in their milkshake?!  I've heard this same claim before from people I've been around who observe and criticize people for their appearance or weight. And I think it's total crap.  Like, duhh.  That person knows how they look.  And you don't actually care if they are healthy.  That's just a way to justify your criticism of them!  

I just don't think it's anyone's business to criticize me or anyone else for who they are or what they look like.  

And obviously, I can get judgey here and there.  In particular morning people and Miley Cyrus make me feel a little grinchy and hateful (that was a joke, mostly....).  But whenever I catch myself thinking a nasty thought about someone who walks past me on the street or rides alongside me on the elevated train or who is particularly nasty to me sometime throughout the course of my day, I remind myself of this mantra:

EVERYONE IS FIGHTING A HARD BATTLE

It's not my place to decide someone's worth or the value of their struggles.  I'm working hard to just live life as best I can, and I image everyone else is too.  So just as it cuts super deep to have someone point out my flaws, I imagine it feels the exact same way for anyone else! 

Then I stumbled upon this video response, which really broke my heart:

 

I feel for her!  I get it.  I've never been considered "obese", per se, but I really understand the self-hatred that comes from not looking the way you're being expected to look. For being criticized and put down for a very real struggle that is sometimes totally beyond your own control.  And it comes back to my point earlier that I am SO MUCH MORE than my size or weight or what I ate for breakfast.  And so is everyone else!

And then Grace Helbig, who I find cute but kindof annoying (sorry Grace) posted this response and I loved her for it.  She summed it up so much better than this long-winded post can:

Also she has super cute hair.  And I love her Grampa sweater.

 

So there I leave it.  This is clearly an issue that has a million facets, and this is just one side of a very complicated narrative.  But it really hit me in the feels.  And I took the risk to talk candidly about such a sensitive topic.  So please don't abuse it.   

 

I promise next time will be a much lighter post!


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