Did you know that there was an election a couple weeks ago and the person who won isn't very popular with more than half of the country? You definitely are aware that it is Thanksgiving weekend. Yes, grotesque consumerism. Yes, family tension and conflict - about politics? Ironic. Yes, feeling like you treated your body like a dumpster. Because you did. And, in many places, the first real signs of winter settling in during the busiest travel week of the year.
It's all a lot to handle and if you're not careful, you'll find yourself swept away in an undertow of stress, negativity and earth-shattering selfish consumption.
So, at Addison's suggestion, we've put together this little 2016 Self Care Guide. It was spurned out of the Presidential Election, and dovetailed with the holidays.
I’m basically boycotting Thanksgiving this year.
Some of my reasons are politically related (#NoDAPL, the mythical version of Thanksgiving purposefully overlooking colonialism and genocide, the President-elect making my heart and brain ache). Some of my reasons are simply logical (AAW’s Windy City Classic is on Saturday, a mere mile from my house, and I don’t want to drive 14-hours roundtrip on my extra days off from work just to eat a meal with my family while being careful not to say or do anything to offend anyone). Plus, one of my best friends is coming to visit, so we’re going to chill out all day watching movies and enjoying each other’s company. We bought tickets to see Dr. Strange at a nice movie theater that has those plushy reclining seats with foot rests and enough space between you and the people next to you so you don’t feel all claustrophobic next to them. After that, we’ll go to a restaurant for dinner because cooking a whole feast for only two people gives me a lot of anxiety and detracts from what the fourth Thursday in November can actually be good for: giving thanks.
To me, giving thanks simply means being aware of all of the ways in which your life is pretty fuckin’ great, and being grateful for all of it – including the not so great parts.
This year, I have been trying to be mindful of how privileged I am and attempting to express #dailygratitude for all the little things that make my days on this Earth so fuckin’ cool! In doing that practice, I’ve been recognizing and understanding what actually makes me feel good and brings value into my life (and it’s not the Air Jordan III True Blue OG’s coming out on Friday).
Here’s a list of some things that make me feel good that I’ve been feeling pretty damn grateful for lately:
· Deactivating Facebook after the election. I added at least two hours of actual productive time to my schedule by breaking from it for a little while.
o Truth be told, I may re-activate it on Thanksgiving so I can see all the things that people in my life are sharing their thankfulness for since I won’t be with them.
· Donating blood with the American Red Cross.
o I try to do this as many times in a year as I am eligible but my life is busy and I struggle to find the time (excuses). It’s not the most exciting process in the world but getting some free cookies at the end along with the feeling that I contributed to the greater good is absolutely exhilarating. One of my favorite times donating was when I brought my lil cousin from California with me the day after Christmas and we donated together. It was her first time. Maybe grab some of your family members and take them with you to donate. You can find a local drive here: http://www.redcrossblood.org/
· Cooking healthy dinners and dividing up the leftovers for the next day’s lunch.
o GrubHub, Yelp Eat24, and Postmates are right on my phone, and my favorite taco place is right up the block, so as a single-gal living in a big city, it is almost too easy to have food in front of me that I didn’t prepare myself. But there’s been something very satisfying about cooking up a balanced meal – including fresh vegetables – and actually sitting down at my kitchen table (with my phone off) to enjoy it. The bonus of that mindful eating practice is I usually have leftovers that I pack up for another meal or “two-tree.”
· Spending quality time with loved ones.
o By quality time, I don’t mean everyone just sitting on their phones showing each other weird videos or talking negatively about people or work. By quality time, I do mean sharing ideas, asking real questions, digging deeper into the relationships you already have and giving them more depth and meaning.
· Attempting to meditate.
o I say attempting because it’s hard to get my brain to shut off so I feel as though I haven’t succeeded in meditating yet but the effort, time, and journey in attempting has been equally challenging and beneficial. I use the Headspace app and even set mindful moment reminders to pop up on my phone throughout the day.
Check out Headpsace here: http://hdsp.co/CTGd/Rj4sZc4Cxy
· Listening to the most relaxing song ever.
o This is scientifically proven to be the most relaxing song of all time. I’ve been listening to it while writing final papers, studying for finals, having a “crazy” day at work, at bedtime, and any time I need to chill the fuck out and breathe. Here is the 10-hour version: https://youtu.be/nKsEqFgKhoA
o Admittedly, I am inconsistent at best with this practice but when I do it and encourage myself to “keep it positive”, I am more successful at finding the silver linings in negative situations or things that bummed me out. I’m less likely to ruminate on the negative when I am mindful about remaining positive. I am better able to find patterns in my own behaviors and write down how I want to remedy them. I also find I’m more forgiving of and patient with others – which is particularly helpful when in situations with people that I know I’m not stoked on. I even got myself a fucking brilliant journal that I love using: https://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/1452125848/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
· Korean spa/chiropractor/massage/haircut/manicure/pedicure.
o Any/these things are pretty great and everyone deserves to be pampered. Most all those things cost $$ and I know that it’s just not in the budget for everyone… but the last massage I got was free. It from my 8-year old niece. Also, it was less of a massage and more just making her walk on my back. It was cool. And sometimes there are little girls I babysit that just want to brush and play with my hair – and I love that.
There you have it, folks. That’s my short list of things that make me feel like I’m actually taking care of myself. My schedule is jam-packed so sometimes I even put items from the list onto my calendar so that I am sure to have time for it. Dedicating time and energy to self-care is a work-in-progress for myself but I am thankful that I am at least working on it and being mindful of its challenges and benefits. I am looking forward to having a couple of days off of work to chill out, cook some good food (just not on Thanksgiving), spend time with one of my favorite people on the planet and see some friends at a wrestling show on Saturday, mediate, listen to good/calming music, journal, and get a massage. It’s going to be a good, good week. I don’t anticipate stress being on my agenda at all but if happens to pop up, I at least have some tools to manage it effectively so it doesn’t wreck my day/week.
From Dan Diehn:
Close your eyes
Run a little farther
Touch the trees and
Watch worms wriggle out of dirt
Inhale the icy sky
Clutch your heart
For just a moment
While the rest of the world
With so much happening in the world it is important to take care of yourself. I have been trying to map out my self care routines to keep myself together. Below you will find what has helped me in the past and might help you now.
1. Eat some good food
a. I love cooking a good meal, baked pasta heals all wounds.
i. Five Cheese Baked Penne - If you can’t find all the cheeses substitute two pounds of shredded four cheese italian cheese.
ii. Fancy Chipolte
2. Listen to some music
a. Nina Simone - I can not understate how much Nina Simone’s music means
tome. “I Love You Porgy”, “I Shall Be Released”, “I Wish I Knew How It Felt
To Be Free”. “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” and so many more. If you
want to learn more, watch the excellent Netflix documentary What
Happened Miss Simone?
i. If you want a head start check out my personal playlist here.
a. I love podcasts. Stuff like The Read, Girl On Guy, Another Round, and The
4. Netflix and comedies
a. Comedies are some of my favorite things to watch. Check out Hot Fuzz and
Chewing Gum if you like British comedies. Otherwise Parks and Recreation,
Insecure, and Survivor’s Remorse are fantastic american comedies.
i. One of my favorite things to do is eat ice cream while in a warm bath
5. Take some time to be by yourself
Exercise. It's really good for you and is proven to help fight off the negativity that you are sending through your brain because of imbalances. It will help you live a longer, better life.
Educate. Yourself, not others. It's really discouraging to see all the contradictory, angry, or uninformed stuff in the world around you. Be the change that you want to see. That starts with educating yourself. Read books. Don't read the Harry Potter series again. There are dozens of books that will actually challenge you to improve yourself.
Embrace diversity. This isn't just about race and not just in your iTunes library. Try different foods. Don't surround yourself with only like-minded individuals. No matter how right you think you are, you're not getting better if you choose to live within the comfort of a reality that exists entirely to reinforce your opinions without requiring you to reason them out.
This is about self care. But, after you've expressed daily gratitude, and you've stretch upward, outward and inward, and you've had the chance to check out some good podcasts and taken the time to be by yourself, there is more work to be done. Self care should be about staying grounded and aware, but self care also requires you to put in some serious effort to improve yourself physically, emotionally, intellectually, relationally, and spiritually. Embrace the challenge of being a better you, because a better you will make the world around you a better place for everyone else, too.