So, I have to go ahead out "out" myself. Particularly because of the last few blog posts. Not only were they posted in MAY, they were also on the topic of self-care. While that has continued to be a running theme in my life, I have to confess that I haven't earned many gold stars in this area as of late. I could definitely get gold stars for worrying about not getting enough self-care, but actual implementation: nope.
When I moved from Oklahoma to LA, I felt like I was in a storm/ time warp/ twilight zone/ hell. I was very consciousness that this time of my life would bring inevitable stress, but trying to alleviate it sort of felt like trying to meditate and get in enough exercise while there was literally and figuratively a flood happening. Everything that I knew well-- every routine, familiar face, my grocery store, squeezing my nieces (my self-regulation vices) all of it sort of got swept away. This is by no means me feeling sorry for myself because this was entirely voluntary/ self-inflicted because it was my choice to move, but the multitude of change that I had just brought on was (and still is) extremely uncomfortable.
Before I go into some of the things that have gotten me through this in one piece, I suppose I could give a little insight to the subtext as to why this was/is "uncomfortable". (Please note: I am speaking from my personal point of view and while I am absolutely sure non-HSPs probably feel a very similar way being put in these positions, I am just giving a little insight to my experience in my "special" body.) Being a highly sensitive person, my nervous system is extremely receptive to sensory/ nuance/ energy...meaning, my fight or flight mode/ sympathetic nervous system is a little trigger happy. Change in my environment means a lot of "potential danger". The more you become acclimated to a person, space, etc., you are able to process those "features", deem them safe (or not), and you are then able to come down a little and not feel so uptight and/ or irritable. Which, again, is how most humans function, but, for HSP’s, it’s all intensified.
Within the first few months of being back in LA, I acquired a fast-paced job, moved into a new apartment...after three intense weeks of searching, had someone I've known for a long time show their true (murky) colors, and found myself in a very tight schedule with very little free time. All the while, I am trying to give myself grace as I try to process, self-regulate, and come back into my body more than not. (..And keep a social life, try to maybe date, and not starve my little elderly pup, Eloise, of deserving TLC.)
I felt led to accept an exciting job where I travel half of the month and while I am unclear if this is my premature death sentence or a potentially valuable challenge, it gave me the idea that I can share my journey to staying mentally sound, physically fit, and well-- all while traveling for work (and play)! I will go more into this exiting content later, but today I am going to chat about some of the things I have done that have been extremely instrumental to making a healthy/ stable transition. Yes, I do feel that if I didn't implement these steps, the stress would have been significantly more brutal.
First, some obvious “symptoms” and red flags to look out for that might indicate that you may be living at a pace/ mind space that could be detrimental your spiritual life, personal life, and literal lifespan: when you’re feeling a little out of body, unfulfilled, tense, you have a hard time connecting, OR you find yourself looking back on previous days and can't quite picture the details and the days seem vague. Any of these sound familiar? Here are some significantly useful habits you can implement to make you feel a little more sound, secure, and present.
1. Find Time to Breathe. Like, really breathe. Those great diaphragmatic breaths where you breathe in and your stomach expands and when you breathe out, it goes back down. (Reading this description could sound elementary and instinctual, but until I studied "basic breathing" in school, I didn't realize that my body didn't do those things until I started practicing. I would force my stomach to push out, even though, air wasn't actually filling my lungs and continue until I caught a full, natural breath. To this day, I still have to frequently check in with myself and make sure I'm doing that.) REAL breathing is a great way to signal to your body that you're not in danger. You could be safe on your couch watching Netflix, but if you're taking shallow breaths, chances are, your body is still in fight or flight mode. When you're functioning with your sympathetic nervous system, or "fight or flight", you're in survival mode. Your body doesn't care about secreting regulated hormones, repairing damaged cells, digesting, etc. It's purely functioning to survive, releasing cortisol. This is why when you’re stressed, you’re maybe a snacker or don’t have an appetite at all-- due to your bodies' inability to release the proper amounts of your "full" and "hungry" hormones, leptin and ghrelin. Another popular repercussion is having overly active bowels or your elimination is slowed down (or off altogether). One of my favorites is looking haggard— which is how your friends clairvoyantly ask you if everything is okay because they can see it on your face— your cell turnover rate has lulled. So, this cliche tip to breathe is actually THAT important because you want to trigger your parasympathetic nervous system, “rest and digest” mode, so your body functions like it's supposed to..
2. Find a Not-So-Guilty Pleasure...or two. One of my very favorite scenarios is to cook while listening to uplifting movies or music, accompanied by chilled wine glass of KeVita (fermented coconut water). This originally became a habit because I wanted to "come down" after work by drinking something without alcohol when I quit drinking for a year. I now prefer this ritual because it contributes to my health and is still an extremely effective way to relax. So, I'm not saying go grab yourself a KeVita, but take inventory of the things that really give back to your body and allow you to feel at ease. Whether that's evening strolls, drawing, crossword puzzles, ANYTHING--- so that if you find yourself out of your comfort zone, you're able to come down, without compromising your health.
3. Get Moving. I can't tell you how often I've blogged about or told clients this somewhat obvious, but under utilized little gem. You might hear it a lot because the stats are right-- working out is one of the most effective stress relievers, a great way to pump your endorphins, and press the reset button. When I travel or find myself in a state of stress, I run. I bring my running shoes because I know the consistency of working out is so healing for me. No matter where you're working out, if you're able to become centered, it will trigger that same state/ mindset, no matter where you are (literally and figuratively).
4. Implement Routine. To some, this could seem very boring. I'm not saying shut down your spontaneous side, but routine can be a great way to bring familiarity to an unfamiliar place or time in your life. While I love supporting local, independent shops, one of my best travel tips is: the second you touch down at the airport, map a Whole Foods. You can find one in most major cities, either near the airport or your hotel. Since most layouts are fairly similar, choosing a grocery like Whole Foods will actually end up saving you time— not to mention the obvious perks of having healthy snacks handy when you’re on the go. I know when most people think of Whole Foods, they don’t exactly think “budgeting”, but this little routine will also end up saving you money! Grabbing some quick $3 breakfasts (like superfood oatmeal cups by Vilgilant Eats and Purely Elizabeth), $1 bottles of spring water, transportable fruits like apples, pears, plums— not only allows you to stay on a healthy path, it also reduces the temptation of grabbing a $4 acidic SmartWater from your mini fridge or a processed snack from a vending machine or convenient store. I also highly suggest grabbing a green drink, low in sugar (4ish grams a serving), to alkalize your system and help combat travel stress.
During my move, I have loved discovering new places, but when I'm feeling a tad overwhelmed, you have no idea how comforting it is to walk into somewhere like a Sprouts-- anywhere I can go to avoid unnecessary stimuli.
In order to master these tips, you must first challenge yourself to devote time to be still. Time to check-in and pay attention to what does and doesn't work for you: activities, foods, etc. By doing this, I was able to find the very things that bring me to a state of homeostasis. (And, also, things that lead me to the brink of spiraling.) This custom “wellness formula” is invaluable when you're entering a time of stress, change, upheaval. Take inventory of the things that help you self-regulate and feel whole and authentic... and do what it takes to make sure that you’re living on that level. It’s the most self-honoring thing you can do!
Do you have any self-regulating routines?! Please share in the comments section below!
I have consistently had the struggle to keep it all together. Not that keeping it all together is even really possible. There's this wonderful quote I recently heard saying something like "even the person who has all of their shit together is still standing in it". Nonetheless, keeping it together has always been something I strived for. This term, in short, pretty much means keeping up appearances, consistently. It also means having more days when you, your home, your car, habits, and routine look polished, well-oiled, and productive and less days when you look and live like a slob kabob. It's not so much for vanity's sake but I truly believe that once you routinely incorporate the steps it takes to "keep it together", (the same steps that also just so happen to result in a visibly pleasing outcome), you show up in life with your best foot forward...boldly and enthusiastically. That type of energy attracts all sorts of wonderful and then, the domino effect commences! Once you master one thing, you're more likely to be mindful of another, and since that feels so good, why not add a few other feel-good accomplishments to the pile?!
I am lucky enough to have a handful of fabulous friends. This group of people, like me, regularly discusses how they need to get back into their gym routine, or they need to get some color on their skin, or they need to make a habit of a spiritual practice: church, meditation, etc! We all have some pretty hectic schedules...especially compared to what it was like in high school. Living in the grown up world of consistent jobs, errands, bills, and priorities that keep the lights on and a roof over our heads takes up a majority of our adult day. While we can't walk away from those necessary priorities, or "adulting", we can make sure we still give ourselves the attention we deserve. Yes, life gets hectic but in the grand scheme of things, if you're too busy working your ass off, it's not that you can't afford to master self-care, but, really, you can't afford to not to master self-care. A chance to recoup and honor yourself with some daily love is as valuable as it gets. What is all of that hard work really for if you don't enjoy your everday? Time is precious, yes, but I think serving yourself a nice, hot slice of "you" time on the daily will not only have an impact on your happiness, but, also, your income! Those daily treats, in the long run, can make you even more productive because of that wonderful sense of clarity that comes with regulated cortisol (the stress hormone).
So, my idea. This year, I am going to debut a new blog series called 365 Days of Self-Care: How to Make 2016 Your Bitch. (I apologize if profanity offends anyone but the title made me laugh too hard not to use it.) This series will focus on the many forms of self-care that you can treat yourself with on the daily. I have gathered the consensus that many people have massive reservations about making resolutions because they don't want to set themselves up for failure. I get it. You've set these goals before and end up feeling defeated before the end of January. I've been there too. With this series, you're not setting yourself up for any realm of failure because you can incorporate one form of daily TLC that will take you very little time and will contribute to your bigger picture...you becoming even more awesome!
To be honest, I am looking forward to this as a form of accountability. I have mastered clean eating & listening to my body, I am in the ever-evolving process of honoring myself, and now, I would like to treat myself like I deserve to be treated via pampering, love, and FUN! So, please join me in this pursuit! Expect a lot of embarrassing videos, exciting tutorials, hopefully some pounds shed, stress melted, healthy habits adopted, and delicious recipes tasted! Can't wait!
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*photo cred TTFMag
As the trees start to lose their leaves, it is an almost poetic reminder to let go of things that are dead or no longer doing us a service anymore. This can pertain to a few things like habits and people, but, today, I am going to touch on STUFF.
We all have things, but what goes in the category "stuff" are the things that no longer serve a purpose in our home, other than taking up space. Many studies have been done that prove that by removing excess, our productivity levels go up. I'm not going to go into consumerism, but, by doing an annual home detox, it can have a hefty influence on shopping habits, saving you money, because, sometimes, the hardest things to get rid of are the things you never got use out of. Surveying those items will allow you to avoid the same pitfalls of buying items just in case you need them or for future events or projects you foresee maybe doing, but aren't on the immediate horizon.
1. Clothing. I'm starting with clothing because this is what many of my clients (and I) have had the biggest weakness with. Many specialists suggest applying the "if you haven't worn it in six months, get rid of it" rule, while weeding out your closet. I am a rarity because I don't agree. Just because you haven't worn something in six months doesn't necessarily mean it's not worth keeping. A clothing item's relevance can change from season to season. If you bought a pair of quality wide-leg jeans that fit you perfectly and the next year, you see that skinnies are what you're gravitating towards, it doesn't mean that next season wide-legs will still be out. In fact, they could be the very style that you are dying to wear. That's when you realize that if you had parted with them, you would have to go on the ultimate search to find that same type of pant and, alas, you get stuck in the consumerism trap. Keep quality classics. I am a firm believer that your closet should be a nice balanced mix of price points. Usually, that means you will have a combination of quality pieces and, as I call them, "one hit wonders". When it comes to purchasing a blazer, classic cut denim, tailored shirts, etc., go for the pieces that will practically pay for themselves with as much wear as you end up getting out of them. Buy items that will be worth the investment and once they start to look a little tattered, remind yourself that they had a nice life and (quickly) send them to retirement at your local charity drop-off.
For the trendier, more elaborate items, try your best to find less expensive alternatives. Those are the pieces that lose their thunder after one season or a few nights out with the same crowd. You will feel much less of a sting parting with them when you realize that look has run its course or it's starting to fall apart only after a few wears. Another pro to this technique is, if you really reason with yourself and admit you'll only wear it a handful of times, you can decide to part with it sooner. This increases your chances of getting a little money back for it at a consignment or resale shop and will then reduce the amount of work you'll have to do during your annual purge. Poshmark is also a new favorite resource of mine. It's a super simple app where you can immediately shoot and post the items you want to part with. The thing I do suggest is creating a personal deadline for the item to sell. If you pass the deadline, find an alternative to get it gone! (Sign up with code GRDRE to save $5!)
So, while weeding through your closet, I have devised a little mental routine. If you land on an item you're unsure of, figure out if it lies in the category of:
Quality + trendy: part with it if it's been a year since you've worn it.
Quality + classic: part with it only if you can really never see yourself wanting to wear it again and you haven't worn it in over a year.
Cheaper + trendy: part with it if you even pause for a second on it while sifting.
Cheaper + classic: part with it if it's showing its quality or if you haven't worn it in a year.
Another great tip is if you're at odds with letting something go, ask yourself, "what would I wear this to?" Once you answer, ask "if I were going to _____, would this be the piece I would want to wear over everything else in my closet?" If the answer is no, let it go.
These rules also pertain to accessories and jewelry.
For the sentimental pieces, keep no more than five of them. It sounds harsh, but, really, that item doesn't hold special power, it's the memory attached to it that's special. Take a picture of it so that you can get that warm feeling when you see it again and find a better home for it.
2. Crafts and office supplies - You don't want abandoned projects staring back at you. Not only will you maybe feel a small sense of failure because you never completed it, you will also feel that pressure of getting back to it so that you're not out the money you spent on it. Do yourself a favor, donate or sell it and utilize that energy towards something you WILL happily complete and succeed in. As far as office supplies goes, if it's dated paperwork, shred it and recycle it. If you have 50 pens, donate at least 35 of them. If you have a lifetime supply of stationary or notepads, you don't have to toss even half of it but try to narrow it down. I used to buy those "just in case" greeting cards in case of a birthday emergency of some sort. I recently went through my pile and more than half of them weren't something I would give to anyone anymore. Case in point, buy as you go.
3. Old magazines and books - Outdated decor or fashion books: part with. Those styles may come back around again, but, usually, they will incorporate updated classics. Books that were a gift and you don't feel like diving into probably aren't worth keeping. The sentiment is wonderful and I don't think this is for every book, but if the content of the book is of no real interest to you and it isn't something that even touched you when you received it, it's okay to let it go. A book that you have already read doesn't need to be on your shelf unless you know for a fact you'll read it again. If anything, give it to a friend if it was a book you enjoyed that much.
Up until recently, I was all about keeping magazines. I used to keep every fashion magazine that came into my grasp. Then, I narrowed it down to just keeping special ones and all of my Allures from 1999-2014. Then, I narrowed down my Allures. I finally settled on tearing out the special pages in all of my picked over publications and began putting them in a portfolio for stored inspiration. Another great option is taking a picture of the page or scanning it and adding it to something like Evernote, Google Drive, or Pinterest. I am pretty old school so I like tactile things, making the portfolio a nice compromise for me. It took me a good few years to get this down because they were (clearly) hard to part with for some reason. I do sound a little crazy but I HAD to add method to my madness.
If this process is difficult for you-- make it work. Add little incentives like if you weed through x, you will go get a pedicure. An even bigger incentive: imagine these items being put to good use again by someone who truly needs or wants them; anything that will spark the urge to let go of unnecessary build up in, what is supposed to be, your sacred space. Now, take a deep breath and release!
Need a little push? Try this challenge!