Are you taking care of yourself?

When you’ve had a really stressful day, week, or even month, or things just aren’t going right in your life for whatever reason, it’s easy to lapse into a routine of sulking, bingeing on unhealthy foods or alcohol, watching trashy TV all day and all night, and generally feeling sorry for yourself.

While it’s okay to spend a little time wallowing in your emotions, it’s important to not let that take over our lives – you can still take care of yourself despite the stress and drama you’re dealing with. I’m often reminded of this by friends and family, and I’m thankful that I can keep that balance. Here are a few ways you can make sure you’re taking care of yourself:

Pamper yourself. Go get a massage, a hair cut, a mani/pedi, or some other body refresher. Even if you aren’t glowing on the inside, an updated look or relaxation treatment usually makes you feel better.

Buy yourself a gift. Stop in your favorite bookstore to get that new bestseller you’ve been eyeing, or pick your first item of new spring attire. Maybe it’s even something like ordering a new bedspread, a great workout DVD, or a cookbook full of your favorite food recipes.

Exercise. There’s nothing like going on a long run in the sunshine and crisp air outside. Or maybe it’s playing some tennis, taking a yoga class, or trying Zumba (because apparently that’s the hot thing right now). Working out increases endorphins, which will benefit you physically, and is a great attitude adjustment.

Eat healthfully. Try to keep your eating habits regular and keep up with lots of fruits, veggies and protein – all items that will keep your natural defenses in check, and make you feel good. Make a yummy sandwich, or create your own pizza to add some fun to your routine, and that way you won’t slip into the ordering in/takeout/cereal rut.

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Relaxation brings reflection

We’re all doing it right now – the days of 2008 are coming to an end, and as we’re sitting around trying to take a breath after the holidays, putting away decorations, catch up on the piles of magazines, and we’re doing a little thinking. What happened this year? What will next year bring? What changes do I want to make, if any?

At least that’s what I’m doing. I’ve been “home” in Cincinnati with my parents for over a week and have another week left. It’s funny, because my parents always ask if I want to do anything fun while I’m home, but honestly, I prefer to just keep doing what we’re doing – watching old Law & Orders, having coffee and relaxing with our dogs, seeing some movies, that sort of thing. Rather selfishly, I don’t even like giving up my time of doing what most people would call “nothing,” to hang out with a couple old friends in the area, despite earlier plans to do so.

There’s a lot that’s been going through my mind lately and many things I’ve been trying to figure out. I’m constantly wading through those old bad memories from years ago of a father who didn’t seem to want me, of friends who suddenly weren’t friendly, and so forth. As much as I try to let it go and move on, I can’t. And I’ve come to accept that if I don’t do something about it, it will continue to affect my life and all my current and future relationships in a damaging way – and I don’t want that either. You’ve read in my past entries that overall, life is good with the new job and new place. But even with that, there are some things that just don’t go away until we do something big and life-changing about it. For me, the first part has been realizing that I can’t do it alone.

I’ve had a lot of little moments lately, what Oprah in her magazine likes to call “Aha!” moments. Mine run the gamut, including things like omg I’ve gained 10 lbs and need to lose it ASAP, to why am I not volunteering for Habitat for Humanity to build homes for those hit by Katrina – my real hometown area, nonetheless? Then it’s other things like, damn, I can’t believe I just blew up at my boyfriend for no reason or how did I not realize I was acting like that at work?

My parents always joke that they’re boring. Looking in from the outside, one might agree, considering their social calendar isn’t exactly booked. But then again, mine isn’t either. I tend to spend much of my time just like they do – reading, watching old movies, and just hanging out. But those are the times when I have those Ahas, when I’m not thinking about my work to do list or who do I need to call or what errand do I need to take care of tomorrow. In a week, I’ll be ready to return to DC, and jump into 2009. And then I can turn my Ahas from thoughts to actions.