Thursday, February 11, 2010
Fifty Healing Choices For Type A Do-Gooders...
Sometimes you just wake up in a funk. Or you wake up just fine but then you pull something in your neck in the shower, and you get a kind of passive-aggressive email from someone you sort of really dislike, and you fell asleep early so now you have to deal with your kitchen and you just have too much to do. You know, one of those days. Maybe it's because I don't have a steady job, just this sort of gauzy goal of writing a best-selling Great American Vegan Superhero Coming of Age Novel in between freelance projects, but I feel very driven to stay busy with saving the world. I don't like to slow down and I really resent that sleep is essential to one's mental and physical health. But sometimes it is the sore neck that is the universe's message that you cannot just go on at warp speed: you must slow down. Internalizing the message that we have to take care of ourselves is not always easy, at least for me. Others are human, others need to nurture themselves, that is fine for them. For me, though, i need to keep charging forward. I have had friends voice concerns to me about how little I sleep, how hard I am sometimes on myself, and I realize that they're right. I am just as mortal and fallible as anyone else. So now I have this sore neck that is forcing me to dial things down a bit and I'm thinking about self-nurturing. We all need it. Here's a list of what you can do for yourself when you feel depleted and enervated, things to bring you just a moment or two of pure pleasure. I hope this helps.
Fifty Ways To Self-Nurture, Get Out of That Funk, or Just Plain Enjoy Life A Little More...
1. Buy some clementine oranges. Keep them in the fridge so they're nice and cold. Eat them one after the next.
2. Take a bath with scented salts, your favorite book, candles, the works.
3. Make a lunch or dinner date with a great, lovely, inspiring friend. Set aside at least an hour for this, aim for two.
4. Eat something with some high quality, serotonin-increasing fat in it. Some ideas: a big green salad with avocado and toasted walnuts, Thai food with coconut milk, hummus made with hemp or flax seed oil.
5. Use your leftover cell phone minutes and call a faraway friend.
6. Movie night! Make some popcorn and watch a movie that always makes you laugh. Or if you need the release, one that always makes you cry.
7. Do not disregard the guilty pleasure of occasional empty calories: reality TV, trashy magazine, Chick-O-Sticks. Whatever it means to you.
8. Go for a walk. It doesn't matter how it is outside. Dress appropriate to the conditions and take a nice meandering walk for at least thirty minutes. Or a nice bike ride.
9. Make a "feel good" album on your portable media player, full of the music that just fills your heart with joy. Listen to it. Enjoy it. Sing along.
10. Buy your favorite kind of pen, bring a notebook or a journal, and go sit in a café. Write letters to a friend, a letter to yourself, a gratitude list, get something off your chest. There is something about the act of putting a pen to paper that is healing and complete in a way that typing is not.
11. Are you dehydrated? A big glass of herbal iced tea or just plain water is often the easiest, quickest, most sure-fire way to help you feel better. Those of us who do too much can neglect this.
12. A few squares of dark chocolate can go very far to elevating the mood.
13. Pursue the pure mental state Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi termed Flow, being fully and rapturously engaged in a task, often a creative or physical one, that is neither too easy nor too challenging for your skill level. Flow cannot occur when you are self-conscious or anxious. Do your best to remove things: they are the ego mind.
14. Great scents can lift the spirits: lilac, basil, rosemary, eucalyptus, grapefruit.
15. Make some homemade bread. Not only does it smell wonderful when baking, but kneading and punching the dough is deeply gratifying. Bread baking is also perfect because not only do you get the satisfaction of beginning and completing a task, you also get to enjoy the results.
16. Go ahead: have an orgasm or two. I'll leave it at that.
17. Walk to the park at lunch with some peanuts or bread for the birds and squirrels. Feed 'em.
18. Do you have a labyrinth near you? Walking a labyrinth is an ancient spiritual custom and it is a chance to go within and leave the pressures and demands of the world behind even as you are of it. I like to start with asking myself a question that has been troubling me, and often by the time I have wound my way back to the beginning, I have clarity on it. Miraculous healing occurs when we slow down and simply walk. If not a labyrinth, then a walking meditation. Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh has some great guidance here.
19. Dance, do jumping jacks, spin a hula hoop, play hopscotch, jump rope. Movement shakes things up.
20. Blow all your stress and anger into a balloon, tie it up, and then pop it. Or don't tie it, just release it to go sputtering throughout the room. It's gone now. Buh-bye!
21. Make a gratitude list before you go to bed or first thing in the morning: write down three things your grateful for from that day (or the day before) and three ways that you made these things happen. It's not always easy but it will create more blessings in your life, I promise.
22. Go sledding. Conversely, go down a water slide.
23. Have a sleep over party with your friends. Tell ghost stories. Giggle. Eat brownies and popcorn.
24. Use some of those darn gift cards you've been hoarding: what are you waiting for, silly?
25. Reminisce with an old friend - maybe even from your childhood - about a happy time in your life. Relive it and relish it and vow to create more happy moments to look back on.
26. Turn off your television. Damn, that thing will suck the life out of you if you let it. Put yourself on a TV diet. Same thing with the internet.
27. Camp out in your back yard. Chase fire flies. Make vegan s'mores. Sing James Taylor songs.
28. Envision your next big trip. Where would you go if money and practicality weren't factors? Where is someplace lovely but more realistic, perhaps, for just a weekend away? Make a list of all the places you want to see and make some moves toward making it happen, even if it's just a day trip. Those of us in cold climates can get cabin fever in these long winter months.
29. Straighten things up in your work space. There is little more enervating to me than clutter. Figure out organizational systems for keeping your household hotspots (for us, it is the dining room table and the bed in the spare bedroom) clear of clutter. Every night before you go to bed, these should be clean.
30. All a corollary, gather up the stuff you no longer want or need and donate it to AmVets or another charity.
31. And then you can reward yourself further with a little thrifting. There is little like the "Thrifter's High" one can get from unearthing wonderful treasures that would cost so much in retail or are so unique they couldn't be found there. That feeling of being a modern-day Magellan and discovering these gems is incredibly fulfilling. Just don't buy too much or you'll be back to square one with clutter.
32. Throw some snowballs or run through the sprinkler.
33. Go to the library, get some books on crafting and find a great project for yourself.
34. Self-absorption is at the root of so much pain. Go to a local animal shelter and play with the kitties and dogs. If you can, register to be a volunteer. It lifts the spirits tremendously to do good for others.
35. Cook yourself a really good meal if you usually eat out. If you prepare most meals at home, order in.
36. Find a daily source of inspiration. I have found DailyOm.com and this Kabbalah website to be useful when I'm feeling stuck.
37. Walk around your town - or one nearby - with a camera. Take a photo of everything that inspires you, uplifts you, makes you smile. Or be a tourist for the day and do all the things you've always wanted to in your community. Come to think of it, call in for a sick day and give yourself a day to enjoy.
38. Take the sweetest child (or children) you know out for an ice cream cone. Listen more than you talk.
39. Forgive. You owe it to yourself to forgive.
40. Start to organize your photos, digital and otherwise. You'll soon see that you have a lot to be grateful for.
41. Climb a tree.
42. Give yourself permission to be silly. Pull a goofy prank. Throw a water balloon from your window. Laugh at something really, really beneath your intellect and dignity. Have a vegan whipped cream fight. Learn a really great joke and make other people laugh. Just do it.
43. Bake a cake for no reason other than just because.
44. If you are a creature of routine, do something unexpected. Eat pancakes for dinner. Stay up past your bedtime. Shake up your exercise routine.
45. Try to make it a habit to not overeat. Overeating creates depression and increases that feeling of being weighed down. Eat lighter, feel lighter.
46. Take a new class: trapeze, yoga, knitting, roller derby. Learn and try something new.
47. Scream at the top of your lungs when no one is around and let it go, damn it. Punch a pillow. Whatever it takes.
48. Do something kind for someone. Bake muffins for your new neighbor. Shovel another's sidewalk without expecting anything in return. Buy something you see at the thrift store you know someone if your life would like. Collect clothes for the local shelter. Have a bake sale for a worthy cause.
49. Hot chocolate is always nice.
50. Smile whenever you can think of it. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and inhale: think of all the people who have loved you, all you've done, all you have to be grateful for, everything that makes you feel good. Feeling wiped out is temporary. Smile. You'll get through this. You always have.
What do you do to nourish yourself? Please share. Also, please be kind to yourself.