Have you ever fallen into the trap of wanting (or expecting) things to happen faster?
Have you ever thought, “Why isn’t this healed yet?!” or “Why won’t this pain go away?!”
Yep, that was me this past week.
I was stung by a bee (or wasp) over the weekend, while outside cleaning up after a big project I had just completed. I didn’t even see the little stinging friend before it happened. I always tell my kiddos that if you just leave bees alone they won’t bother you… apparently, this bee didn’t get that memo, or I accidentally invaded his personal space without noticing!
I can’t remember the last time I was stung before this and thankfully I don’t suffer major allergic reactions from stings. It still hurt like hell, and started to get that red, inflamed, burning sensation almost instantly… doing exactly what the body is supposed to do to fight off the toxins/infection.
Since I was outside, my daughter and I went hunting for a “quick fix” herbal remedy… plantain. This weed is normally invasive around my house, and sadly when needed the most I could only find one tiny plant!
I tore off and crushed a few of the leaves in my hand and applied the “juice” to the red area around the sting. Ahhh… immediate relief! If only plantain would work on all types of pain, but sadly, this little helper focuses its relief on insect bites and stings. (More info on plantain can be found here and here.)
The following day the sting area got slightly bigger and stayed very red and painful. I tried several other remedies to “fix” the problem — lavender essential oil, Manuka honey, coconut oil, ice packs (all used at separate times) — and while each item worked well for a few hours, I was growing quickly impatient and annoyed that the healing wasn’t going faster.
By the morning of day 3, I had to stop and laugh at myself. Was I really expecting a sting to heal in less than 48 hours?! Did I not recognize that the inflammation and redness had gone down significantly, and the pain was barely perceptible? Am I that hard on myself that I can’t even allow my body the time it needs to deal with foreign toxins invading its system? AND doing exactly what it was built to do in these situations? Oh right, I’m a recovering perfectionist… of course I have super unrealistic expectations when it comes to my own body.
I share this story as a reminder to all of us (mostly myself) that given half the chance… and the time to do so… our bodies can heal themselves from most ailments. It’s helpful if we relax and allow our fabulous bio-computers to do their work, and not add insult to injury by expecting healing on an unrealistic timetable and being stressed or annoyed about it.
How can you apply this lesson in your own life? Are you fighting with yourself over chronic pain that you wish would just go away? Are you stuffing down emotional pain because it feels like too much to bear right now? These things are normal… and it’s also possible to make different choices going forward.
While bee stings almost always heal much faster than chronic pain, I encourage you to believe in your body’s ability to heal. Be kind to yourself. Try to accept what is without wanting the circumstances to be different. Finally, know that it’s okay to ask for and accept help from others when needed. You are loved and supported, and other people (myself included) are here for you.
The holiday season is here… are you ready?! Aside from meal planning, decorating, and shopping, are YOU prepared for the whirlwind, end-of-the-year, holiday chaos?
Whether you are hoping to stay on course with your health goals, or merely stay sane, these Holiday Self-Care Survival Tips will help you better prepare for the inevitable. Let me know which suggestions resonate most, and please share other strategies you can’t live without.
Know Your Why
You’ve been working hard on your health goals — to lose weight, eat more veggies, exercise regularly, etc. — so don’t let the holidays sabotage your efforts. Getting clear on WHY you are striving for that goal will go a long way in helping you stay the course.
List the reasons that made you take action in the first place and imagine how great you will feel once you accomplish your goal. I encourage you to go one step further and write down your Why. No, really… write it down! You only need a sentence or two to help you embed this information into your subconscious, plus, the paper can serve as a handy cheat sheet during those moments when you need a gentle reminder or nudge in the right direction.
Isn’t it great that our loved ones provide SO many opportunities for personal growth?! Because we know each other so well, it’s easy to push the buttons of our loved ones and make comments about their past decisions/mistakes. The good news is, you likely know exactly which buttons your loved ones will push to trigger you too. By planning in advance for the inevitable, you can determine how best to avoid the pitfalls and how to respond (vs. react) once your defensiveness kicks in.
For example, one of my triggers is feeling less than and different. Growing up, I was considered the “creative one”, whereas the rest of my family were all about sports. At every family gathering nowadays, I can expect a few digs about not understanding the rules, or even that the “big game” is on that weekend. This scenario is so old and ingrained in our family that I would almost (almost) be disappointed if some comments weren’t made. This trigger is easy to prepare for because it is so expected and I no longer take these comments personally.
I recognize that this example is benign, and other triggers are much harder to deal with. That’s why it’s important to identify them in advance, in hopes of minimizing being blind-sided, and allowing yourself plenty of time to prepare your responses.
Set Clear Boundaries
Holding boundaries can be hard, especially with family. This is often true because patterns were set while we were children, before we had choice over our actions. Falling into old patterns is easy, because they feel familiar and comfortable… even if, as adults, we now recognize that these patterns are not always healthy or safe.
It’s key to remember that you are in control. You have the power and authority to set whatever boundaries you want for your life. This could mean something as simple as deciding when you arrive and leave a party… even if it goes against what is “expected” of you. Another boundary could mean choosing to eat some, but not all, of the traditional family dishes… or that you bring your own food to share, possibly starting a new tradition and uncovering new family favorites.
Please don’t fall into the trap of thinking that all boundaries are negative. Get clear on your non-negotiables and stick to them. Boundaries are reinforced by Knowing Your Why, and can be extremely helpful to minimize or avoid being triggered.
Fill-up in Advance
The term “fill-up” generally has us thinking about food, and yes, filling up on healthy food in advance of a big party or family gathering is a great strategy to avoid over-consuming. Beyond food, I invite you to consider other ways to fill yourself up… emotionally, spiritually, socially… in the days or weeks leading up to an event. What can you do in advance to optimize your whole self, so you are primed to face any temptations that come your way?
If overeating during the holidays is a familiar pattern, what can you do in advance to prepare your body and mind to feel full enough to avoid that extra serving of pie or additional glasses of wine? Are you eating because these family recipes are only offered once/twice a year and you don’t want to miss out? Great… go for it! In contrast, if you are consuming more than normal to numb emotional pain or as a way to avoid engaging with certain people, that’s when it’s time to re-evaluate the choices and phone a friend for support!
Knowing yourself, and fully accepting your nuances, will help you know how to “fill-up” in healthy ways beforehand, so you can experience more peace and success toward your health goals.
Remember Your Options
One more tip for self-care survival is to know your options and remind yourself that there are a variety of choices you can make. You don’t have to fall into old habits.
In the first four holiday survival tips, you clearly outlined your why and made a mental (or written!) list of all known triggers. You identified your non-negotiable boundaries and filled up your body, mind and soul with positive reinforcements. Sometimes however, you arrive at a party and all good-intentions are thrown out the window within minutes. C’est la vie! So much for planning. Now it’s time for resiliency and relying on previous training/self-care practices.
For those times when all else fails and you can’t think clearly, it’s good to have a “Go To” list ready. These are the techniques you rely on to pull you out of a funk. Having this toolkit ready is crucial to success… every day, not only during the holidays.
Here are a few options to get you thinking about your own “go to” favorites. Remember, just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it will work for you. Trust your instincts and what has worked well for you in the past.
Meditating and/or deep breathing
Chatting or texting with friends
Going for a walk or run
Listening to music or podcasts
Watching a good movie (or even a quick cat video)
Taking a bath
Sleeping / napping
Taking time to be alone
*Reminder: Steer clear of anything that could be used for avoiding and stuffing pain. Self-care is about compassion and re-filling, not running away and avoiding feelings.
I hope you found some useful tips/reminders for surviving and thriving during the holidays, as well as throughout the new year. I encourage frequent check-ins over the coming weeks to ensure you are managing stress, and filling yourself up in healthy and positive ways. All the small steps and “wins” add up to great success over time.
The holiday season can be magical. Look for ways to celebrate the joys and offer gratitude. May this season bring many blessings to you and your loved ones!
Several years ago, I took a mindfulness meditation class and the concept of “Begin Again” became an integral part of my daily life. In meditation, when your mind starts to wander and you recognize the distraction, the phrase Begin Again is often used to bring your attention back to your breath. This act of “awareness and return” IS the practice of meditation. It gave me permission to mess up repeatedly without beating myself up (a useful tool for recovering perfectionists!).
The Begin Again concept is simple, and, like most profound things, immensely difficult to master. The idea isn’t new — of course we begin again after we fail. Yet, somehow in this context, in the safe place of meditation, those two simple words allowed me to exhale more deeply, let go of some of the daily stress, and settle into my body offering myself permission to get distracted over and over. I knew all I had to do to “fix” the situation was bring my attention back to my breath — to pause and begin again. This repeated process helped me recognize that my definition of failure was too rigid. I needed to offer myself more grace, more love, and much more forgiveness.
The practice opened my eyes to other areas where I needed more clarity on what I was doing or thinking so I could choose to move forward in new ways. Was I spending time doing things I really cared about? Was I allowing myself to wish and dream? Or was I simply going through the motions because it was easy and comfortable? I especially needed to re-evaluate how I was dealing (or not dealing) with past traumas. It turns out that burying emotions inside for decades isn’t the best way to reach optimal health! So, I chose to Begin Again with a new kind of work. Deep inner work that would have me beginning again and again, in ways I never imagined.
Over time, I realized that I wanted to serve more, in meaningful and tangible ways. I wanted to share my knowledge and experience of how the body can heal itself, and how small consistent actions can lead to life-changing results. I believe that personal health is a journey, not a point in time or destination to be reached. Health must be tended to, and cherished, every day. When we make less-than-healthy choices or life dumps a health challenge in our lap, may we all remember to Begin Again with grace, love and self-compassion.
How will you choose to begin again today?
https://vividheartcoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_11191.jpg10241024Melissahttps://vividheartcoaching.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/vhGryAssetfirstname.lastname@example.orgMelissa2019-11-05 05:40:152020-03-02 03:09:34Begin Again