Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Recipe for Restoration

 
 
Sometimes in life, you are called upon to be the 'strong one'. This is especially true of women. Being a wife, Mother, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, neighbor; sometimes these roles require a lot of mental energy.
 
Add to that if you are a caregiver, nurse, teacher, social worker or other job requiring human compassion and you can become down right burned out.
 
Men are also not immuned.
 
Careers, co-workers, family demands, financial problems, hero demands, can all take a toll.
 
Once in a while, like a stack of dominoes, all it takes is the 'one too many times' you are called upon and there you go......
 
Collapse. Just like Dominoes.
 
 
As a wife, Mother of 4, and eldest sister, I know first hand what it is like to be the 'go to' person for all those big and little woes, complaints, heartaches, and worries.
 
Sometimes you can get overwhelmed with everyone else's problems.
 
And of course, how do you then release them?
 
You want to be helpful and kind, understanding and empathetic. You freely give of your time, your sympathies.
 
Everyone feels better.
 
Except you.
 
 
As the 'go to' person, you have nobody to go to!
 
How do you replenish yourself without burdening the already burdened?
 
Well, I have a few tricks.
 
This has been one of those weeks for me.
 
So this is my recipe for restoration and renewal.
 
Shut down. By this I mean, shut off the lines of communication. Screen your calls, ignore the inbox, shut off all the chatter inside your head. Naturally, if you are required to keep your cell phone on because of children, job or other duties, you can't completely isolate yourself. But you can put up boundaries. If it's an emergency, a conference call, or important message, by all means, pick up. But for everything else, ignore, ignore, ignore.
 
As for shutting down the chatter inside that pretty little head of yours (or for you guy's, dashingly handsome head), replace all that noise with positive pep talk. Or music.
 
Look in the mirror and say, 'I owe myself this time. I am not super human. I do not need to fix everyone else's problems right now. This is my time.'
 
Repeat as needed.
 
 
It's so easy to get caught up in everyone else's drama. You want to help, to offer advice, be supportive.
 
But remember, sometimes you take on other people's problems as your own. Resist, resist, resist.
 
Tell them over and over,
 
"I know you will work it out, I have faith in you."
 
Then let it go.
 
Because once they are done releasing all their troubles, they are happy and you are left holding the proverbial bag. Of negativity. (Or other adjective!)
 
Water helps. Take a shower and think of all that negativity washing away.
 
Or take a good long soak.
 
Let it all go down the drain.
 
Fill a tall glass with water, add some lemon, cucumber, lime or kiwi. Whatever you have on hand. As you drink, think of purifying yourself. The more you drink, the more pure you become.
 
 
Another way to recharge the batteries after a battering is to get outside. Even a little fresh air does wonders for your outlook. Take deep breaths. With every breath take in new energy. With every exhale, release the negativity.
 
You don't have to go far. Sit on your front step. Or your balcony, courtyard or park bench.   Notice the birds. Look at the trees. Just sit and be. Take your water. Or a nice glass of wine. Or if it's really bad, a good Vodka.
 
 
Sometimes in a well meaning way, people can hurt your feelings. They can tell you things you don't want to hear. Like being told when another has a less than kind thing to say about you.
 
Or a back-handed compliment.
 
 'You would be so pretty (or good looking) if.......'    fill in the blanks.
 
or
 
'I never understood why so and so never liked you.'
 
or
 
'You look so tired, I hope everything is alright.' 
 
This calls for extreme measures to recover.
 
This calls for a special treat.
 
For me that is chocolate. Or a new blouse. Or if the comment is particularly hurtful, new shoes.
 
For you guy's that might mean a new electronic gadget. Or sports supplies. Or a double whopper.
 
Yes, shopping therapy does work.
 
These sorts of things also call for the 'quick way of spiritual forgiveness'.
 
Say to yourself, 'So and so certainly didn't mean to hurt my feelings on purpose'.
 
Repeat. While you eat your chocolate and model your new shoes. Or play with your new gadget while downing your burger.
 
 
Sometimes your spirits can get really low if you are dealing with other's ongoing problems, rude strangers, other's illness or other trying situations.
 
This calls for a mini vacation.
 
At home.
 
Even an afternoon or evening can restore your spirits if you do so consciously and with that end in mind.
 
Carve out time to play.
 
Oh, I know you probably don't feel much like playing at this point.
 
But trust me.
 
Pick up a ball. Toss it to your pet. Toss it to your child. Find a piece of string and play with your cat. Play with your child. Get down on the floor and give it all your attention.
 
Go outside and skip. Or twirl. Or simply wave your arms around. Jog in place. Do a cartwheel if you still can.  Tell yourself you are once again 11 years old and act it.
 
Create.
 
It's impossible to feel sad when you are creating something.
 
Bake something. Cook some soup. Plant a mini garden in a dish. Sew. Draw. Knit, build a model airplane, a birdhouse, paint that chair you've been meaning to get to, take some photos.
 
You will feel so good.
 
Carve out an hour. Do this regularly. You will be so absorbed in your tasks, you won't have time to feel bad.
 
 
 
 Once in a while, no matter how hard you try, you simply can't shake off a negative or draining encounter or conversation. Like a broken record, it keeps replaying over and over in your mind.
 
You can't shut it off.
 
For this, I recommend cleaning. Yes, cleaning. While you are doing mindless tasks you can muddle things over in your mind to your heart's content.
 
Just start somewhere. Clean the fridge. Clean off your desk. Wash your car. Organize your closet. While you are working, replay everything in your mind until it gets just plain boring. Give yourself a time limit. By the time you are done, you will have accomplished something that makes you feel good and you won't even remember doing it! You will be so absorbed in your thoughts that all of a sudden you look around and your external world is back in order.
 
This has a psychological effect.
 
When our surroundings are orderly, for some reason, our inner landscape also feels more orderly, too.
 
Give yourself a time limit to mull things over. After that, you are required to shut things in your mind down. Put it aside. Be Scarlett O'hara. Deal with it tomorrow.
 
It really works!
 
 
If all else fails, try reading and writing. When you are the one who has nobody to turn to because everyone turns to you, a journal is your best friend. Here you can release all of your feelings without burdening another. A journal can help you see clearly. When you write something down, it puts it in perspective. Sometimes you can look back on your thoughts and feelings and see patterns and insights into problem solving that hashing it out with another can never give you. And you can be honest without hurting anyone else. Just be sure to keep this journal in a safe place or hidden with a secret password on your computer.
 
Another way to recover and restore is to read a good book, a magazine, a newspaper. Reading about others can put things into perspective, too. Sometimes problems do not seem so important when you are reading about other people's troubles.
 
A good book gives you the opportunity to escape from reality, shut off your thoughts and live another life.
 
The best place to do this is in bed, after you take time to play out in the fresh air, do a little cleaning, create a little something, shut out the outside world, drink a little wine, and take a good hot shower,  wearing your new shoes and eating chocolate.
 
xx


10 comments:

  1. Lots of good advice here! I work in my gardens to find peace. It really does help to be outside in the fresh air doing simple manual work.

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  2. Dearest Karen,
    Oh my, guess we both have to sit together and devour that piece of 'dark' chocolate! So well written and oh so true. Guess I needed badly some shut off time. Tomorrow morning my last antibiotic pill will be taken and than it's only chocolate cure. I'm back on top and over the grieving etc. As with being the eldest and for years having been the BIG EAR of the family, that role I've quit and gladly so. Pieter is now my one and only and so are our girls, pets and friends. Not exactly in that order but you know. Like I did clean up my blog list; deleting some that were not worth my time and effort any longer, we need to do that in real life too. Time passes so fast and before we know it we've forgotten to enjoy our own special moments. As for cleaning, I have to hold on as we're in the middle of our bathroom remodeling and there's lots of DUST. But before Sunday the house will look decent again, that always makes me feel good. We drove to Atlanta today for stocking up at Costco etc. Hugs to you and I hope you did fluff back yourself!
    Mariette

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  3. Wow! I loved it, needed it, and I'm GOING to listen to it! :)
    This time of year is especially hard for me. The holidays always seem to bring on the pressure. Thanks for so many positive ideas.

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  4. Music and getting busy with something do the trick for me. Also going somewhere with my camera and taking photos.
    Thank you for this post. We are all human and sometimes we do get sad or melancholy or just plain tired.

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  5. Everything you said is great advice, and funny, it's exactly what I need right now. I'm going to bookmark this post to re-read as necessary because my problem is shutting off the chatter in my head - it shouts at me all the time like a broken record and I can't turn it off. All of your suggestions seem to be the recipe for shutting up the chatter. Thank you! <3

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  6. I totally understand, Karen...and appreciate all those pearls of wisdom. Now to just put them into action...and buy some chocolate!

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  7. Oh I so needed this post I have been spending a lot of time near the trees cleaning house, eating chocolate and drinking tons of water. Yes they all work. I am the eldest of 10 and look after a Mom with Alzheimers, dealing with my own Fibromyalgia and we run a beef farm after a year of horrible drought. Oh yes I needed to hear and read and absorb this wise advice. Thank you
    I do hope your troubles are fading as much as mine have while reading this peaceful inspiring post. Sometimes it is nice to hear what others think and deal with things HUGS B

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  8. This is a great post, Karen. The way I relax is by taking nature walks, photography, writing, decorating. I also like cleaning and organizing. It's so true that you feel more at peace inside when your surroundings are orderly. I hope you have a relaxing and peaceful evening :) xx

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  9. Big grin. This is perfect timing!

    My dad called yesterday, completely inside out from worrying over his sister. I said that she is through the worst of it, recovering from surgery, surrounded by family to help her... so let it go, like a helium balloon, just let it all go, and watch the worries float away. I'll have to share some of your ideas with him.

    I clean house too when overwhelmed, but chocolate and new shoes... wow, I like those! :)

    Big hugs,
    Zuzu

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  10. I so enjoyed reading all of your experiences and ideas for releasing and renewal. My guess that this is something we all deal with was very accurate, I see. Now, thanks to you, my friends, I now have some new ideas to add to my techniques! Thank you for your wonderful insights and for your continued friendship. xx

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Thank you for stopping by! Your comments are important to me and are very much appreciated. xx Karen

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