Category: Balance

Consider Yourself: At Home, While Stressed, and in those Cringe-worthy Moments

We all have those days where we want to sit down on the floor and cry because everything in the world just feels wrong.

I had one of those days recently, and as unpleasant as they may be, they’re good reminders. They help you distinguish good from bad, stress from serenity.

But sometimes, after those days, you get stuck with a case of the blues, the mean reds, or another shade of mood. I’m stuck there today, so it got me thinking about those places we go and those things we do to try to pull ourselves out of a funk.

When we give ourselves time to deal and we take care of ourselves, it can really make everything better – and I’m not just talking about feeling-wise. There are countless studies that talk about all of the negative effects of stress. When we try to reduce it, we extend our lifespans and improve our entire well-being. Coping with stress is something I’m always interested in learning about, so I’m curious to hear what you do when you get stressed.

Practicing self-care in particular is something I love to read about. Gala Darling talks about it all the time, and there are countless other bloggers out there that share ways they bring their lives back into balance – or at least take care of themselves when they know they need it. You’ve gotta take care of your self, darling. You just have to.

I have a few things/places of peace I turn to when things are rough:

One is food. Not so much eating, but cooking. Tonight, that was my chosen method of therapy. I came home in a foul state, feeling defeated and drained – but on the way home, I decided to take control of my bad mood and treat myself to something hot and comforting. I stopped for a hot chocolate with cinnamon. It put a small dent in my grouchiness – it was a start.

After coming home and letting the Mister know that I wasn’t in a good state (communication does wonders for stress, by the way), I took to my cutting board and didn’t turn back. Some time later, I had French onion soup with melted Swiss, fresh grapefruit juice in mason jars for tomorrow morning, and Meyer lemon lemonade.  Citrus – that’s another thing that lifts my spirits, both in taste and in scent. Cooking gives me a sense of calm and control – I enjoy it, no matter what the dish. Tomorrow, I’m making salsa and over the weekend, I’ll be roasting a harvest of squashes given to us by friends. And I’ll feel better for it.

Another is cleaning. When everything feels out of order, sometimes it helps to just bring the environment around me back into balance. I tend to clean in binges, usually on weekends, or whenever I get a nesting urge. After dinner, I did some chores and things felt even better. Granted, it was just cleaning the bathroom and straightening up the kitchen, but it made a difference.

Then, I decided to practice some self-care and take a bath with some lavender. The warm water helped me relax my muscles and get rid of the tension. Plus, the scent helped to wind me down after the straightening up spree. I’m a firm believer in the benefits of aromatherapy. I find that it works for me, so I try to incorporate it into my daily life to cut down on stress in those tiny moments where you don’t notice things piling up, but there they are. Adding to the weight, gram by gram, until something breaks.

When it happens, I usually cry. Crying is a natural, healthy thing. And when you’re done, you feel better. So, when you’re stressed, don’t feel guilty about crying. It just happens – and it’s totally okay. In tonight’s case, my tears only came from the cutting of onions – but still, it’s a small release.

Sometimes we like to talk things out. I spill the beans to those closest to me when I feel the pressure rise. It helps too, because then they know why you’re acting the way that you are and they can help you get through it.

Other times, we just need to be alone. Tonight, I’m in a state of needing some alone time. So I asked for it. Brent was incredibly understanding in the way that he always is, and I’ve gotten to work through some of my mess undisturbed. Don’t be afraid to ask for space. There’s nothing wrong with saying that you’re not in a good place and need a moment to breathe, think, and decompress.

Most of all, take care of yourself. You have to take care of you before you can take care of anything else. I’m trying to do that right now, so that tomorrow, I can wake up and shake my moody shade. So, I’ll leave you with some of my strategies for bringing things back into balance before I go off to two more places I find peace: watching a movie cuddled up with the cat and a good night’s sleep.

 

Hobbies

Photo By: Sophie Thumser

I really suck at hobbies.

I tried painting, but I don’t have the patience.

I tried poetry, but I prefer reading it over writing it.

I tried crafts, but I just plain suck at those.

I aspire to be a hobbyist. Just ask my friends. I speak longingly of being a lady of leisure and hobbies, with plenty of time to learn programming, sewing, French, and piano.

However, like most of us, I work a 9 to 5 and actually, I’m quite happy with that at the moment.

But, there is the itch to have a hobby. Luckily, I didn’t have to go far to reconnect with a hobby that I’ve stuck with before.

A few weeks ago, I auditioned for a play – and I got a part.

In high school and college, I ran with the theater crowd and got to take part in quite a few productions. My fondest memories of high school involved the auditorium.

Whether it was a play, a practice, a rehearsal, a poorly choreographed rendition of “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus”, the auditorium was where I made my friends, fell in love, felt heartbreak, connected with something bigger, touched the fringes of being confident, and discovered more about who I was and what was important to me. Formative years, indeed.

But it’s not my first love or what I want to do for the rest of my life. It’s fun. It’s an escape. It’s a chance for me to flex a different set of creative muscles. It’s a hobby.

Much like my attention span, this is a hobby that will come in short, focused bursts. It’ll eat up a lot of time, but will have a finite duration.

Perfect.

Tonight is the first rehearsal.

Old friend, I’ve missed you.

Staying Balanced Tip #601 – Step Away From the Send Button

By: Darin McClure

Have you ever noticed how scary an email without context can be? Or rather, how intimidating your inbox can feel when you first read an email that isn’t positive?

We’ve all received the email that turns our stomach or makes our cheeks flush. All caps. No punctuation to speak of. Something that wasn’t followed by a smiley face so we automatically assume that it reads as “annoyed”. They happen at home and at work. They waste our time by causing us anxiety. We dwell. We analyze. We panic. We cower. We respond immediately out of emotion.

DON’T. 

It’s easy to be afraid of what you don’t know or what you aren’t sure of. The first time you read an email, you might interpret it as sounding “angry” or “terse”. The second time, not so much. So why do we do this to ourselves? Why to we tie ourselves up into knots of anxiety? Because we feel this sense of immediacy. We HAVE to respond right now with only the information available to us. We HAVE to assume the worst.

Well, guess what? We most definitely don’t.

That email that’s sitting in your inbox, the one that you’re dreading to respond to or feel really crappy after reading, walk away from it. Walk away for a few hours. Do something else. Think about everything but that email. Then, come back and read it again – with a cool head and calm heart.

Hitting send without reflection can get you into trouble. Whether it’s email or Facebook, a lot of issues can be solved when you just. walk. away.

Respond when you feel sure of your response – not just obligated to have a reaction.

Tea Leaves

By: Seba Della y Sole Bossio

I did something really stupid about a week and a half ago.

Instead of giving myself what I wanted (a cup of mint tea), I decided (goodness knows why) to make an herbal blend. I smelled it and I cringed.

I took a sip and I cringed.

This is NOT what I wanted – so why the hell did I sit there, unsatisfied with a cup of tea that I made. No one else made this. I MADE THIS.

You know what you want and you know what you make. The two can and should go together.

Make the goddamn cup of tea you want and it’s easier from there.

I’ve Got a Fever – and Pinterest

By: Robert S. Donovan

(I wrote this post the other night when I was feverish, bored, and stuck in bed with a box of tissues. Enjoy!)

So, I’m sick. Really, really sick. As in the sickest I’ve been in years. Last time things were this bad, I was out of commission for a few days with bronchitis. This time around, it seems to be some sort of cold/flu/wicked sinus infection complete with fever and chills, stuffy nose, sore throat, and achy muscles that make me feel like I’m covered in magnets. (Magnets? Geeze, is this even the right word? I don’t even know anymore…Nurse?)

Anyways, this left me with a considerable amount of time to myself. I spent about 99% of it in bed, save for the few minutes when I showered, ate, and took some meds. Toast, soup, tea, water, and strawberry Jello cups – you are all my best friends.

This was a little victory in my battle for balance. Spending the day in bed is not something I normally do when I’m sick. Most times, I either try to work through it or between hacking up a lung, I sneak in little chores, errands, or to dos so that I don’t feel like I’m wasting my day. This usually makes me sicker longer and generally complicates the healing process. This time, it was different. I was knocked on my ass by illness and instead of fighting it, I did what I was supposed to do. Rest, plenty of fluids, no work, etc. I can say that even though I’m blogging right now, I haven’t moved in hours. Hooray for little victories!

While in bed, I watched Coming to America, which as you know, is a pinnacle of cinematic excellence.

TO BE LOVED. TO BE LOVED. OH, WHAT A FEELING.

 

After that, it was a Netflix-a-palooza, complete with some BBC programming and episodes of SNL from the 70s, 80s, 90s, and 2000s.

At some point in my plague, a bright and chipper Marywood student called asking me to donate money. I said, “No, thank you.” I’m thankful for MU, but this chick isn’t donating until those student loan payments get friendlier…or until they give me a check for using me in their advertisements (fingers crossed, ma!)

Then, oh yes then, dear friends, I got on the internet. I’ve been surfing on my phone on and off throughout the day, but for the past half hour or so, I’ve been cruising Pinterest.

Now, if you’re not familiar with Pinterest, there are a few ways of looking at it. It’s:

  • A great communications tool for brands to engage with a new audience
  • A visual social network that opens your eyes to spectacular things you might not have found otherwise in the vastness of the internet
  • A visual and fun way to organize things you want, things you like, etc.
  • A socially-acceptable form of internet hoarding
  • A form of slow torture where you pin only things you feel comfortable being judged on and rationalize every pin, saying in your mind, “Oh, yes! I’m going to do this craft this weekend,” or “I’m going to make 10 of these!”, or “When I get married I’m going to do everything that’s in this board – I promise!” …and then it doesn’t really happen.

Somewhere around tissue 100, I succumbed to the phenomenon and temptation and pinned a shit ton of things, including lunch ideas, which is what prompted me to write this post.

I really suck at remembering to make and bring my lunch, so I’m going to make that a little goal for me to work on alongside the sleeping like a normal human thing (baby steps – I think two things to work on at a time is okay). I need to take these Pinterest ideas for lunches and get crackalackin’ in the kitchen so that I save money, eat well, and can actually enjoy a few extra minutes at lunchtime. Visions of cucumber sandwiches, cream cheese and crackers, sliced veggies, and popcorn are dancing in my head. Okay, that’s it. I’ve said what I need to say. Kthxbye.

This is my brain/your brain/our brains on fever. And Pinterest.

(If this post makes it up, it’s because I read this in the morning and felt that my fever induced delirium was good enough for publication)

 

Pro Tip #495: Don’t Make Decisions When You’re Tired

Everything always seems worse at night.

You know, those moments when you’re lying awake in bed, trying to fall asleep but remain focused on the fact that if you don’t get enough sleep that you’re going to be tired the next morning and if you’re tired the next morning you won’t be able to do your job well and if you can’t do your job well then you’re going to get fired and lose your car and lose your apartment and your cat will hate you and then everything will suck.

By: Jeroen Mirck

If you ask me, my brain is completely batshit crazy when I’m trying to fall asleep. The things I say, the things I think…all are really out there. Granted, sometimes, I get an amazing idea (then forget to write it down) or I remember something I’ve forgotten (and forget to write it down again), but for the most part, it’s gibberish.

When I’m really, REALLY tired, I also come off with some pretty amazing phrasings. Here’s a sampling of things I’ve said while half asleep:

  • I have no patience for irony right now – and that’s not even the right word!
  • *mumble* *mumble* *something about grapefruit* *mumble* *mumble*
  • Everything is wrong. (Brent replies, “What’s wrong?) NOTHING. (then I, agitated, roll over and proceed to pass right out).

I become completely irrational when I’m tired. I know this about myself. I’ve always known this. When I’m tired or just waking up, I cannot make decisions for the life of me.

Yet, from time to time, I’ll decide that it’s the perfect time and mood for me to make a decision in. I blame the sleep-induced delirium and my own foolishness.

Take for instance a night I had recently. As I’m trying to get comfortable, attempting to calmly drift off to sleep, my mind fixates on a statement a coworker made hours before. I replay the memory over and over and over and over until I put myself into a state of panic (again, I’m totally irrational when I’m tired) and all of a sudden I feel upset over something that doesn’t even matter, that isn’t even a concern. Then it transitions into self loathing, guilt, fear, contemplation, and finally, 20 minutes wasted looking up things on my phone, hell bent on trying to find an answer to a question that I shouldn’t even be asking, before the tiniest voice in the back of my head says,

“You’re being ridiculous. You need to go back to sleep. You know you can’t think about things like this when you’re trying to fall asleep.”

Okay. You’re right, I thought. So I put the phone down, checked that my alarm was set, and closed my eyes.

But the nagging thought and negativity just kept nudging at me, tempting me to think about it when I know I shouldn’t. Can’t. Won’t. Jesus, is it 11:30 p.m. already?

The cat runs down the hall, little bell around her neck tinkling. Why do I feel like the bell is mocking me?

“OH LOOK AT ME, I’M A CHEERY SOUND THAT’S GOING TO MAKE YOU ALERT WHEN YOU SHOULD BE SLEEPING BECAUSE I’M A CAT BELL AND ALL CAT BELLS ARE ASSHATS.”

I roll over. I roll over again.

Midnight.

I begin counting backwards from 100, noting that I once told someone that I usually fall asleep once I get past 60 or so (which is true). I made it to 50 and started to worry about whether or not this person I told my counting thing to would think I was a liar and a jerk because I had reached 50, 49, 48, 47…

I scrunched up my face into the pillow.

If I don’t go to sleep now, I’m going to be dragging ass in the morning and I have things to do, calls to make, content to write.

12:07 p.m.

Annie is playing with a toy mouse in the hallway.

I need an off button.

Then, I wake up to the sound of my alarm going off.

It’s 7:00 a.m. and I slept.

My crazypants brain can suck it.

As for what I was worrying about while trying to fall asleep? Totally not a concern. Feel 110% different about it. Moving on. Time to get up.

Moral of the story: Don’t try to think about important things (money, family, relationships, jobs, future goals) when you’re overtired or trying to go to sleep. You WILL drive yourself slowly batty while sacrificing your body’s well-being in the process.

By: Al Muya

In my effort to find balance, I’ve been taking at least a few minutes before I go to sleep to clear my head and just relax. I breathe deeply. I listen to a song that I like, or a I watch a video on YouTube that makes me smile. If that fails, I get out all of my crazy early on by writing down the things that stay on my mind. In desperate times, I take a melatonin.

The good news is that I’ve been doing much, much better on getting a full night’s sleep and actually, it’s been pretty restful. For awhile there, it was madness or insomnia.

The next step is to get myself on a more productive sleep schedule. Right now, I’m falling asleep later than I’d like, staying asleep, and waking up a little later than I’d like. I think I’d feel better and be more productive in my day if I went to bed earlier and got up earlier, but we’ll see what happens. Over the next few weeks, I’ll try adjusting my internal clock.

Sweet dreams, everyone.

Balance

By: Vic

Balance has never exactly been my forte.

Let me paint you a picture.

Think about what it would feel like to have a desk that’s covered with notes. Not just post-its, but some long notes, some scraps of paper, some clippings from goodness knows where. This is my desk and in essence, my life.

I consider myself to be a person of ambition, often biting off more than I can chew in an attempt to find purpose. I try new things, I eagerly attempt new projects, and I usually overextend myself, causing the professional to bleed into the personal and my life outside of my nine to five to be incredibly chaotic.

This lifestyle has worked for me for quite some time. Maybe even since high school if I think back far enough. Being on the move was always a good thing. I associated it with success. It came as natural as breathing.

But it isn’t sustainable.

By: Poppy Thomas-Hill

I know that I won’t be able to go 900 miles per hour every day for the rest of my life, no matter how hard I may try. I’ve made lists with pros and cons columns, dwelled over my own poor time management, and made excuses for why I continue to punish myself by taking too much. It was EASY.

But if I’ve learned anything in the past 365 days, it’s that time is not an infinite resource. It is fleeting and limited. You borrow it, you spend it, and sometimes, it slips away from you. And you can do absolutely NOTHING about that.

But what you can do is be more cautious of how you spend it.

I got thinking about the way I spend my time and to be honest, I wasn’t happy with it. Let’s break down an average day:

  • 1 hour getting ready for work/checking email/giving the cat a belly rub
  • 35-45 minutes commuting to work
  • 8-8.5 hours of work
  • 35-45 minutes commuting home
  • 30-40 minutes of cooking dinner, fending for noms, or ordering/picking up takeout
  • 1-2 hours of eating dinner, watching something on Netflix with Brent
  • 1-3 hours fiddling with the computer, either working on something for a side project or for my day job, or generally wasting time
  • Occasionally, 1 hour of reading, blogs or books
  • Occasionally, 1 to 1.5 hours spent at the gym
  • 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep

I’m not liking the way I’m spending the 24 hours I’m given in a day. Something has to change. Something needs to shift.

Blogging started as a process of online journaling. In many ways, that has not changed. Even for me, my blog becomes my sounding board and thought locker, usually opened up to a page of self-reflection or a moment of introspection. But for awhile, I’ve become frustrated with it. I’m so used to blogging with a purpose on other blogs, but here, it’s rambling aimlessness that people enjoy reading but I never quite feel offers value. I want this to be a place of my own for me to share something that actually MEANS something, even if it’s just a peek at what I’m doing to regain balance.

So I’m going to try it. I’m going to try blogging about balance for awhile and the little things I do to try to give myself more time, more enjoyment, and what everyone else is always craving: more happy.

I hope you’ll keep reading. Even if you don’t, that’s okay. This might not be for everyone.

But it will be just for me.

Ideas and a New Project

By: Santiago Matan

Shower ideas and before bed ideas can be some of the best ideas a girl can have. In my case, I tend to think about blog post topics and business ideas. When I remember to, I write them down in a notebook. Otherwise, I let them go because they’re not as in focus as I’d like or they’re just forgettable.

I think the most difficult thing for me has been acting on my ideas.

It’s easy for me to decide that an idea is good, but I tend to get stuck in the “planning” stages of my ideas. For instance, over the past few months, I’ve been itching to take on a personal project of some kind – one that I could use to grow as a writer. So, I did what so many of us do. I read a dozen or more e-books on achieving your goals and turning your ideas into a reality. I got stuck on the questions of, “Should I be doing this?” and “How do I know this is the right thing to do?” I buried myself in doubt and questions and frustration because I was too worried about planning the perfect idea rather than actually doing something about it. I hid behind the need to be organized and knowledgeable.  Then, I asked for help.

Ash from The Middle Finger Project is one of the most badass women I’ve ever come to know. She is someone who just oozes awesome and achievement. She’s smart, sassy, funny, and is one hell of a writer – but most importantly, she does what she loves. She also helps people, like me, move forward with their ideas.

When Ash launched her redesigned site (GO SEE IT NOW. YOU’LL LOVE IT.), I had the chance to correspond with her one-on-one. I shared my frustration. I told her about what I was feeling, what I wasn’t doing, and my desire to move forward. She gave me her feedback as well as an idea that brought much of what I’ve been thinking about into focus. You know, turning your ideas into action can be as simple as someone you admire telling you: DO IT.

She told me to do it. So now, I’m doing it.

Here’s my new project: balance for myself.

This snail most definitely looks balanced.

By: jenny downing

Every day, I fight with myself over balance.

I struggle to keep myself in the moment.

Every second, my brain decides to wander off or crackle with 10 other subjects, each buzzing with distraction.

I obsessively make lists of tasks to complete. I seriously have 3 or 4 notebooks that I actively use to record different to-dos.

I overbook, overextend, overschedule, and overindulge.

It’s just not working for me.

So, I’m going to give myself time to seek out balance in little ways. I’m not talking about jetting off to another country  ala Eat Pray Love. I’m not talking about making dramatic changes to my life. I’m talking about little, realistic changes to rid myself of energy zapping gremlins that seem to keep me from doing the things I really want to be doing. I’m talking about staying the moment and coming to appreciate it (there’ll be more on this later with something else I have in mind, thanks to Ash’s inspiration). I’m also talking about kicking my own ass about certain decisions made (or lack thereof).

This will be a place for me to be honest with myself and share my thoughts, feelings, and reactions as I experiment with my life and my relationship with balance.

Somewhere along the way, I’m planning on doing some soul searching to figure out what exactly I want to be doing with my time, as I’m finding myself in one of those positions where 15 different things sound ideal. Oh, if only I could be independently wealthy and a woman of leisure – but I’ll save that fantasy for another post.

Alright. Deep breath. I’m ready to begin.

 

 

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