Monday, December 20, 2010

good deeds ~ for yourself!

okay, so this week's good deed is a ridiculously important one, but which is often overlooked by all of us.  
that's right it's about taking care of you!  

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last year at christmas i flew to be with my family in wisconsin, with a layover at chicago's o'hare airport.  as luck would have it, both going there and coming back turned into terrible ordeals of getting stuck in chicago overnight, without ANY of my belongings.  so believe me, i know that traveling over the holidays can be a very stressful experience.  even if you're not traveling far, the dramatic increase in traffic, crowded grocery stores, and desperate attempts to purchase those final gifts, all create a rather hostile and aggressive atmosphere.  plus, throwing parties, making big family dinners, or just spending too much time with your visiting loved ones {remember the three day fish rule?} are all very stressful.  it's so easy for us, no matter how meek and mild we normally are, to act horribly towards others during these next couple of weeks.

i get it. you'll be exhausted, frustrated, at your wit's end.  you'll be crying in a traffic jam that you "just wanted to grab some milk for the mashed potatoes!" or you'll struggle with the urge to slap your sister-in-law because she insists you're cooking the roast beast wrong.  for most of us, these negative emotions come spewing out all over strangers behind us in line or on our family who piles on the holiday chores of  this or that.  it would be so easy for me to say "the good deed this week kids, is to not be mean to other people when you're stressed."  but that would completely miss the real problem!  

honestly, these negative emotions are not bad to have.  don't be ashamed or feel guilty for being frustrated or exhausted.  it's natural and understandable.  instead, do a good deed for yourself and recognize that these emotions are simply sending you a message about a need you have.  maybe you need to set some better boundaries with your family or others, maybe you need to start saying "no" to things, or maybe you need to set aside a little more time to go to the gym {geeky fun fact about your body:  exercise is the BEST remedy for stress.  if you don't allow your body to release the stress chemicals through sweating, your body will take over and release the chemicals however it can, aka - by making you come down with a cold or flu.  that's why you often get sick when you're stressed.}  maybe you need to have a long-avoided conversation with someone in your life, or possibly you need to just set aside time to sit quietly with some tea each evening.
   
during busy, stressful times, we often fail to give ourselves the space to listen to our own needs and then follow them.  when we don't have much energy or time, we often try to take on the world, leaving our own sanity out in the cold.  but that is a terrible idea for your mental, emotional, social, and physical health!  and it will inevitably trickle down into how you treat those around you.  

so this week, no matter what you're doing, where you're going, or how you'll get there, i hope you can take care of yourself in whatever ways you need to.  i like you and i want the best for you.  i hope you can come to a place where you like yourself a lot too and give yourself permission to do some self-care.  and if you think it will be too difficult to set boundaries or escape the insanity {because let's face it, some people won't respect your needs}, just fake a headache and go lie down with a book, or lock yourself in the bathroom with a long, hot bath.  maybe you can wake up a little early and sneak out of the house for a walk in the snow? do whatever you have to in order to find an escape for yourself.  

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as for last year's travel mishaps - luckily the mister's parents had friends who lived just outside of chicago and were sweet as could be.  they picked us up from the airport late at night and drove us back early in the morning.  they gave us all we needed to get by for a day without our things.  and when i was traveling home they did it all over again for me {without the mister} even though they had only met me a few days before.  i cannot tell you how ridiculously amazing they were to drop everything and help us when we needed it.  so maybe we can all be that same sort of selfless hero for ourselves when we are emotionally stranded in the airport of chaos without any of our regular luggage of stress-fighting tools?  

i hope so!

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ps - for me, this week will be full of dinners, airport runs, a mehndi ceremony, kitty sitting, music-making, a bachelorette party, a wedding... oh and christmas!  so you better believe i'll be taking my own advice this week.

and if it helps, here are a few of my favorite online places for combating these stressful times:
erin's gorgeous tumblr page, j'adore, for a peaceful escape from real life,
possumbane's posterous for general life inspiration & mind-blowing photos,
wonderground radio for super fun & uplifting music {great for impromptu dance parties}, and
hyperbole and a half when i need a good hearty laugh.