Take care of You

A while ago, I wrote a post about pampering yourself, as it is a key to stress relief.  Well, I just recently pampered myself for the first time since having a baby, and wow did I feel good!! It felt like a whole new experience to get my nails done and go to the mall just to stroll! No changing diapers, no feeding, no rocking a baby to sleep, I was all by myself, enjoyed a long mani-pedi with a small back massage and it really did change my entire mindset! I went from feeling so stressed and tired to being super relieved and really happy :). Pampering myself has become a new priority, because I learned that going almost 3 months without any self-care really caused my sanity to spiral out of control! Whatever it is that is keeping you from taking care of yourself, drop it now and put yourself first.  Find a friend, spouse, parent, or a babysitter to take care of your kid(s), or set a goal to treat yourself to something after a big assignment, or leave work early if you are guilty of over-working yourself! Just take an hour (or five) to spend on yourself, and do whatever it is that you really miss.

I know a lot of people who have let stress take over their lives. Some people are affected physically by it, and you can tell by their deteriorating health that they are not taking care of themselves, and others are affected mentally by it, which is scary since it is not as obvious to the people around you.  Whether you let stress affect you physically or mentally (or both), you need to learn to stop and take a time out. I learned a lot just from taking a personal break, and I hope you can find time to do the same.

Don’t Eat to Procrastinate

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I know I am not the only one who eats to procrastinate, right? I am working from home right now, taking care of my baby, trying to set up the small things in my new house and writing thank you cards – I kind of have so much to do, I could forget that I’m hungry, but that doesn’t happen to me.  On days like today, I don’t give myself the chance to feel hungry! It’s like the more things I need to get done, the more often I find myself in my pantry instead of in front of my laptop or at my desk or anywhere else I should be. Maybe I should add “eat” to my list of things to do so that I won’t do it! 🙂

Any of you out there guilty of the same thing, take it from me before you open your fridge or pantry, or do whatever it is that you do to procrastinate. You just feel worse after it! I now have to work later and the day feels as if it’s almost done and I have accomplished nothing except for eating a nice variety of foods! Just go ahead and get your work done, you will be a lot happier by night time when you don’t have a longer list running through your mind. Start with the small things and then work towards the bigger ones. Once you get into work mode, you will feel much more productive, and you will get a lot more accomplished. I’ll try to start now, but looks like I need a better start to tomorrow!

It’s YOUR Choice

My sister sent me the above image after she consoled me through a breakdown. This breakdown came after I bitterly returned to work following a measly 6-week maternity leave. Yes, I said maternity leave, I just had a baby J (so, I hope I can get some forgiveness for disappearing the way I did)! The crazy thing is, I work for family, so I never thought I would be going back to work with a grudge. But the truth is, it’s hard to leave such an adorable, dependent baby that you happen to be in love with to go sit at a desk in an office that you are definitely not in love with. I realized that I took the job with my family for the convenience of it (ironic, huh?) but not for the fulfillment. Before I had a baby, I didn’t mind this, I thought working for family was the way to go – at least you work with your heart knowing it’s for the best of your family business, not some corporation you don’t care about, right?  Well, I fooled myself.

I realize that I have not sat down to think about what I really want to do with my life (besides being a wife and a new mommy) since I moved back to Houston (4 years ago). Like the quote above, I have been limiting myself to the reasonable and the possible, letting the easy route guide me. But, for now, I know that I have loved writing this blog, and being away from it for almost 10 months now has reinforced that it’s something I do enjoy and that does fulfill me. So this time, I really am back. Just don’t tell my family that I’m writing this while I sit at that desk 😉

What about you? What choices are you compromising? Are you allowing yourself to do what you truly want?  We all have factors that influence our decisions, maybe a salary, or benefits or family, so we can’t always “follow our hearts.”  But, we can take small steps to find our way towards fulfillment and make the choices that we want, not make the choices that are easy.

Natural Energy Boosters

Well, so much for my “fitness week” blog posts! I successfully gave you only one fitness tip the entire week (I hope you all got to try out a spinning class)! Unfortunately (or maybe I should say fortunately?), the only excuse I have for you is laziness – pure laziness. I just have not had the energy lately to write when I’m at home, and I’m too busy at work to try on my lunch break.

So, today’s stress relief advice is to introduce natural sources of energy to your diet. We all get low on energy, and many of us make the mistake of loading up on sugars or “bad for you” snacks to get a short-term boost. I happened to come across an article on WebMD about how food is linked to one’s energy and mood. If you want to read the details of how food can affect your energy, click here to read the full article. I will let you know which foods to make sure you add to your diet 😉

1)      “Smart Carbs” – carbs are not our enemy as many may think, whole grains like whole wheat bread and pasta and brown rice are good for you! They are also sources of fiber, which stabilizes your energy flow (other sources of fiber include beans, fruits and veggies)

2)      Cashews, Almonds and Hazelnuts – magnesium-rich foods, and Brazil nuts – a source of selenium to boost your mood

3)      Lean Meats – good sources of protein keep you alert and focused

4)      Omega 3 and Folate – both can be found in leafy greens, and Omega 3 can also be found in fatty fish like salmon, both can counter depression

5)      Water – water should be your best friend throughout the day, keeping yourself hydrated throughout the day will fight fatigue. Also, you may be thinking you are hungry when, in reality, you are dehydrated and thirsty.

6)      Caffeine – the article also makes mention of caffeine, which I will not elaborate on (even though I am a big fan of coffee, I do not depend on it for energy), but caffeine includes tea, coffee and chocolate, which all have their great benefits

7)      Breakast – you can visit “Start your morning off Right” for more on this  

Load up on your healthy grains, fruits, veggies and healthy proteins – keep your diet balanced and you’re sure to have an energy boost. I will try my best to keep my diet in check so I can throw my lethargy out the window and continue blogging! 🙂

Don’t dwell on It

Yesterday, I heard some news that really got me angry. Imagine waiting 6 months for something (that really should have happened 6 months ago) and one day after you are finally told “hey, you get to have it!” they take it away and tell you TWO more months! Well, I don’t know what happened to me yesterday, but I must be really taking my own advice, because I remained so calm!  I simply swallowed the bad news, realizing there is absolutely nothing I can do to control it, and I moved on. Of course I complained, of course I expressed anger, but I did not dwell on it. I have never found myself handling a situation like this so well, and I must say I’m really proud of myself.

So, the best part is that today I found out they made a mistake!! It’ back, and no more waiting necessary.  I do not know how that happened, but I don’t doubt my positive attitude had something to do with it.  Moral of the story? Be patient, be calm, and don’t dwell on the bad stuff.  Things will happen the way they are supposed to, and when we know there is nothing we can do about it, there is no point in obsessing over it. Enjoy your weekend!

I’m Baaaaack!!

I am finally back from quite a hiatus, taken without any warning! I would like to thank all of the dedicated readers who kept coming back to check up on my posts. I don’t know who are, but I did see that there were a good number of you, so it really means a lot to me! I apologize for disappearing. I went on vacation and really thought that my travels would inspire me to post pictures of the beautiful sights I was so blessed to see and enlighten me on the different ways people around the world cope with daily stress. While I was inspired and enlightened, I was also exhausted and ended up taking a full-fledged vacation – even from the blogging that I love to do! So, my plan is to take my experiences and pictures and use them in my future posts.

Today’s picture is one of peace and serenity, which sums up one week of my recent adventures. I have decided to use this picture as a new stress relief.  When I need a break, I will take a deep breath and use this picture to remember my “happy place.”  A place I can let my mind run to when I need a break to think about quietness and happiness. I hope your summer has been a peaceful one, and if not, you can borrow my “happy place,” until you are able to take your own break and release some stress.

This  picture was taken of the Kaptan Şevket in the Mediterranean Sea from Knidos off the coast of Turkey…such a beautiful part of the world!

Take a Break!

I apologize for disappearing for an entire week of blogging, and I thank those of you dedicated readers who did come back looking for a stress relief tip for the day! I guess I just needed a break! Not that I actual need a break from writing or letting out all of my thoughts, but, sometimes, life just gets in the way!

So, it reminded me that it’s a good idea to just take a step back every now and then. We can’t do it all – no matter how hard we push ourselves. I think we would find a lot more energy to finish certain tasks (at home and at work) if we remind ourselves that it’s okay if we don’t finish everything on the to-do list and if we force some things to just wait.  Whether you are a mother who feels like a chauffeur, an involved community activist/philanthropist, working two jobs or working and studying, a dedicated friend, or employee or spouse, etc., I have no doubt you are stressed. While many have turned into superman/woman, they have also turned into stress-balls. 

Sometimes a break is just what we are looking for to give us time to think, time to relax and time to rejuvenate. In my opinion, it is probably one of the best ways to beat stress.  Our minds can recharge to be more creative and our bodies can recharge to be more energetic.  So to all of you out there, just take a break and allow yourself to relax, just once!

Do Some Research

I’m sorry for the slow start to this week…I think I wrote about 15 drafts on Monday, but I couldn’t seem to get my thoughts straight. I felt the need to comment on the death of Bin Laden and the deaths of Ghaddafi’s son and grandchildren, but I was at a loss for words. I realized that talking about death, no matter how celebratory for most it may be, is not something I enjoy discussing. I’ve also realized just how much I dislike discussing politics.  Since the “Arab Spring” began, I feel that most of my conversations revolve around politics. This weekend, I was at a British wedding (not the Royal one :)) and all people wanted to discuss with me, as a Syrian-American, was politics. Although I studied politics for 6 years, the truth is, I simply have no interest in touching upon nor debating sensitive subjects.  I was going to title this blog “Stay out of Politics,” but I realized that I may stay out of it socially, but I love to read about it while I am by myself.

So, what I will say, today, is “do some research.” Too many of us have differing opinions and beliefs, and I think that everyone, as long as they are aware of a situation, has the right to believe what they want, as wrong as others may find that to be.  Someone recently asked me how we are supposed to know “the truth” or what is really going on.  I said that we can’t.  I have family in Syria, and I still can’t get an accurate account of what is happening there. All I know is that people are dying, and it’s barely a priority on most news agendas.  There is no way we can find out the truth from only watching or reading the news, but at the same time, direct sources aren’t always an option either. All news stations have their own platforms, so it is up to us to do our own research and formulate our own opinions of what is going on in the world. Because we find so many conflicting news stories, I believe it’s best if we expand our sources and read from around the world – Haaretz, NYTimes, BBC, AlJazeera, Fox, etc.  I personally enjoy reading the Op-Ed section of newspapers.  Whether I completely agree or disagree with what the person is saying, at least I know it’s an opinion – nothing claiming to be fact.  Find a journalist you respect and read their opinion, maybe you’ll find that it answers many of the questions you have. 

Regardless of what your opinion on political matters may be, I do encourage everyone to “read all about it.”  I believe it is important to educate ourselves so that we know what is going on in our nation and abroad.  Plus, if you happen to end up at a foreign wedding, it will be nice to answer questions that may arise in a political discussion between you and the other guests. 😉

The Easiest Breakfast

As I’ve said before, start your morning off right. And the best way to do this is to have a satisfying and healthy breakfast. Today, I just want to share my favorite weekday breakfast.

Prepare one pack of instant (organic) oatmeal (oatmeal + boiling water); Add a banana; Add crushed walnuts; If needed, add your preferred sweetener (please try to stay away from unnatural sweeteners!)

And, voila! Breakfast is served!

Total time – maybe 2 minutes for the boiling water and that’s about it

Just as a note: Oatmeal is considered a “heart-healthy” meal, which helps control weight. It is a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, and it is said to lower cholesterol.  

If you don’t like any of my additions to oatmeal, try your favorite fruits and nuts. My only recommendation is to stick to the original flavored oatmeal, don’t buy the ones with added flavors. Those oatmeal boxes claim to be “healthy breakfasts,” but in reality, they are packed with high, unnecessary sugars. If you like the cinnamon flavor, add your own cinnamon! Same with vanilla, apple, etc. Just make it as natural as possible.

Try it out and see what you think 🙂 Happy Eating!

Take Control of your Chi

I am the type of person that feeds off of others’ energies…this can be great if someone is in a good mood, but it can be so bad if someone is in a bad mood or generally has bad energy. For this reason, I am trying so hard to maintain a balanced chi – which is the universal life force, or energy, in a person. We all have bad days and we all get in bad moods, but trying to keep your chi in check will keep you feeling peaceful and less stressed.  I also believe that a balanced chi will promote overall health and well-being. 
 
Think about it this way – when you feel yourself low on energy, or not feeling up to par, your chi is probably blocked. You can easily and naturally unblock your chi and positively energize your body by doing things that make you feel great and happy. Stretching and breathing are always good ideas. Something as simple as extending your arms outward and upward while inhaling, and then releasing them while exhaling, will instantly stimulate your chi flow. Also, eating a balanced diet filled with natural grains, fruits and veggies really helps.  Finally, do something you enjoy and have some personal “you” time. Dedicate a small part of your day to yourself and do whatever it is that relaxes you (just don’t watch too much TV, it is said to be a chi blocker!).

“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” – Aristotle