Wednesday, November 18, 2015

My Top Five Ways to Relax

For my "Top Five" list today I was going to write about ways that I don't fit in at church, but it was feeling more negative than I meant for it to be. It felt like the proverbial little devil on my shoulder was egging me on, and I didn't feel good about it.

This has been a tough week for many reasons, and I've been feeling a lot of discontentment, frustration, sadness, anxiety, and downright anger about various things going on in the world. It feels like things have just blown up in the last week. What is going on? Things are really getting stirred up, and from a religious perspective I see these things as signs of the times, which makes me feel pretty anxious. So I've been feeling pretty stirred up myself.

{Warning: soapbox time ahead! And it's gonna get political!}
The main reasons I've been feeling particularly fired up the last few days are these:
I'm so unhappy with President Obama, and with what I see as his incompetence and stubborness when it comes to extremely serious foreign policy issues. I can't believe he sees what happened in Paris as a "setback" rather than the act of war that it was. His lack of leadership on these matters is disgraceful. I completely disagree with how he's been handling and continues to handle the spread of ISIS. I dislike disliking our President so much, but the man has been making me burn with resentment and anger. I'm so worried about what his lack of leadership and action is doing to our country and in the world. In my opinion, he's a disaster on the world-stage. I'm angry about how his stubborn decisions are impacting the safety of the country and the world in which my kids are growing up. 

Then there are the Syrian refugees and the whole issue about whether they should be allowed to come to the U.S. For many reasons which I think know are incredibly good, I don't think they should be allowed to come here. I'm not going to go into why because this post is already getting way longer than I wanted it to, but I understand that people don't agree with this and I can see why it's a controversial issue. But what gets to me is when they accuse the many Americans who feel as I do of being un-American, bigoted xenophobes. What?? That makes my blood boil! I am none of those things! It's not the disagreement about the issue that bothers me nearly as much as the judgmental way in which it is delivered. I unfollowed a friend on Facebook yesterday because of her accusatory, way off-base post about this. Lately I feel like I've been unfollowing people left and right (no pun intended, ha ha) because of the offensive way in which they deliver their opinions. I'm so tired of that. Respect is an essential trait to have in life and that includes social media. It's okay to disagree, but please do it in an agreeable manner.

There were the Paris terrorist attacks last Friday, which were so tragic, and then the people who got mad at people for visibly supporting Paris but not places like Beirut, Lebanon, and I was annoyed by that. I unfollowed someone else because of their tirade about that.

Then there are other things, like the fact that I've been sad about how people are treating the Church and its leaders over their recent policy changes. I'm mad at Donald Trump for the way he treats Ben Carson. I don't like how the Democratic debates are scheduled for obscure times when not as many people will watch, and on and on. Then I got a killer canker sore over the past week and I could barely eat or talk for days. And I found out yesterday that the principal at the kids' school, a woman who I like very much, will be taking a leave of absence for the rest of the school year and is possibly not coming back at all because her husband, who she just married a few years ago, is dying of leukemia. 

So I'm just not in the best emotional state right now. I realize that I'm feeling very reactive and sensitive to everything, and hormones come into play too, as well as a bit of underlying anxiety which has already been higher than usual this fall. So I'm not going to write about ways that I don't fit in at church today. I know that I'm not going to be able to write about it in the way that I want, and it would probably just make me feel resentful and that's not what I want or need. It would feed the devil on my shoulder. I'll save it for another time when I can approach it with a better attitude and sense of humor.    

So, my list today is a list of things that I really need to do. Time to take a chill pill, Donna!

My Top Five Ways to Relax:

1. Read. It is so relaxing to get lost in a book. There are few better ways of escaping reality than getting immersed in a different reality, courtesy of the pages of a good book.

(I wish I had the time to read a book a day!) 

2. Take a bubble bath. I do this at least once a month in our jacuzzi tub. It's such a nice treat and it's so relaxing. I feel much better physically and mentally after I take a good bubble bath. It's such a cleansing, comforting act of self-care.

Wise words from Sylvia Plath...

My baths include candles and a nice cool drink. And also a good book!

3. Get a massage. I get one of these every month. When I get stressed, my neck gets SO tight, which leads to perpetual headaches. Getting a massage releases all of that tightness, and I like to think that it gets my inner tightness out too and helps me to let go of things that I have no control over. Massages are so therapeutic and so relaxing. I'm getting one this Saturday. As you can probably see, I need it!

4. Unplug from the internet. This includes blogging and news sites, but mostly it's social media. I like Facebook but lately I find myself going on it way too much. Much of my unhappiness with situations going on in society and in the world comes from things I see on Facebook. When I stay away for awhile, I feel my inner peace increase and I'm able to get back to myself and to more rational thinking. I quit Instagram months ago and I'm not on any other social media, with the notable exception of Pinterest, which I truly do enjoy. So I will amend #4 to say, "Unplug from the internet, except for Pinterest." I love Pinterest. I can feel my stress literally dissipate when I spend time there. It appeals to my mind's love of categorization and organization and beautiful collections of things. 

Almost all of the images I've used in this post have come from...Pinterest! It never lets me down.

5. Prayer and deep breathing. I love prayer. It connects me with my Heavenly Father and brings the Spirit into my life. It gives me guidance, direction, and peace. Prayer is a good friend that I can always turn to in good times and in bad. When prayer is combined with pondering, I think it's one of the best forms of meditation out there. And I've recently discovered the benefits of purposeful, intentional breathing. It's amazing to me that the way you breathe has the power to calm you down and change the way you react to a situation completely. It's so simple, yet so powerful. Both prayer and deep breathing are things that can be done anytime, anywhere. They are wonderful ways to relax.

And because I've had a "Keep Calm" quote with each of the items on this list (it is the theme of this post, after all), I'll end with one for #5 too.

Wasn't the second half of this blog post much nicer than the first half? 
I feel better after writing this post. I'm glad that I decided to do this one rather than my previously planned one. That's something I prayed about, by the way. ;-)