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.

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.

The Power of Chocolate

I don’t know about you, but chocolate has a special power over me. A power that brings a nice, satisfactory smile to my face. For those of you who don’t like chocolate, I’m sorry (and I’m kind of envious), but for those of you who do love it, like me, then I think you may know where I’m coming from! If you need a nice, genuine smile, go get a piece of chocolate. I usually don’t crave sweets until the afternoon, but I was craving a piece this morning and after I took a bite, I found a huge smile on my face…that’s when I realized I had to write my post on it, today. What a simple and great stress relief! Thinking and writing about it, now, makes me smile and remember the women in my life that love chocolate so much – from my mom who hides it in every drawer in the house to eat a piece as she walks by, to my grandma who has tried every single dark chocolate made in this world, to my aunt who craves white chocolate on a daily basis and my sister, who you can always woo with a dark chocolate and mint bar.

And for all you chocolate lovers out there, I’m sure you’ve heard the good news that a piece of chocolate actually can be good for you! Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, has antioxidants in it (to learn more about antioxidants, visit this post).  Furthermore, dark chocolate is said to be a heart-healthy food.  A small piece of dark chocolate a day is keeps your heart beating and can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels – who would have thought? As mysterious as this sounds, it’s true! And the best part about it is that it is also said to stimulate endorphins and act as an anti-depressant (now this, I have no doubt about!). 

I also love thatthe See’s Candy chocolate boxes say “A Happy Habit.”  So go enjoy a piece of chocolate so you can de-stress and keep smiling :).

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!

Retail Therapy

Research shows that one’s mood affects the way he or she will spend their money.  More specifically, when you are feeling unhappy, you are likely to spend more money on things that satisfy your shopping urges, hence the term “retail therapy.”  Well, my personal “research” proves that it works! 🙂

Sometimes, we just deserve it, so why not?! If a nice little shopping spree is what you need to relieve some of your stress this weekend, then by all means, go for it.  Now, it’s not going to be okay to break the bank and end up feeing worse because of the money that was spent, but it’s okay to buy something that will make you feel good – a pair of shoes, a blouse, an outfit…whatever it may be! 

All I know is that it’s summer time, and I’ve been itching for something new.  The best part is that it’s Memorial Day Weekend, which means – Sales! Enjoy!

How to be Happy

Yesterday, I drove past a church sign that read “How to be Happy.” That will probably draw a big crowd to Sunday’s service, and I’m sure those people are looking for their happiness through God. Happiness can mean something different for each person, so there is not a secret to finding happiness, but I do find it interesting how everyone seems to be looking for happiness these days. I’m sure we all have unhappy moments and sad days, but why do so many people want to learn how to be happy and want to find something that will quench this unending thirst for happiness?

There are a million reasons people might feel they are unhappy – many compare what they have to others, many are looking for a partner to fill their void, many think the “perfect” job or a certain body type will complete them – but I think my eyes were finally opened to my own problem, which might trump all those other reasons.  Many of us dwell on the past or fear the future (or, like me, do both!), instead of living day by day. Sometimes we can’t take each moment for what it’s worth because we are afraid of what might happen next, or we cannot forget something that has happened to us in the past.  These fears will hinder many quests for happiness, but most importantly, they prevent us from accepting what we have been given each day, and finding happiness in the present moment.  I can’t tell anyone how to be happy, but I believe our first step towards the search should start by taking each day for what it’s worth. We can’t change the past and we can’t predict the future, but we can face each day and see what it brings us. 

This is another post I will definitely visit often as a reminder to myself.

Go Fly a Kite!

I don’t mean “go fly a kite” as in “get lost,” I literally mean, go fly a kite! Hopefully the weather around you will be nice enough so that you can do something different this weekend.

I don’t remember the last time I flew a kite…actually, I don’t think I’ve ever even flown a kite! I remember trying once and failing miserably, and that was probably 20 years ago. This weekend, my company is having a grand opening event and we’re inviting people out to our property to come fly a kite. So, I look forward to learning, tomorrow.

I decided to read about some benefits of kite flying, because in my mind, it seems to be a calming experience, which must relieve some stress!  Turns out, there is a Chinese proverb that says, “Those who fly a kite can have a long life.”  (The kite originated fromChina.)  When looking and focusing on your kite, it relaxes your mind and your body.  While concentrating on your kite, you stare into a blue and white sky, which will give you a sense of serenity.  At the same time, kite flying is said to rejuvenate and reenergize the body.  So go fly a kite this weekend, and see how it makes you feel!

Smiles are Contagious

Have you ever seen someone randomly smiling to themselves and then noticed that you are now smiling too? It’s nice to see that someone is having a nice thought, or that someone just made their day. Little things like that can really brighten up a moment. I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but try to smile a bit more, today…even if you’re not feeling it. It might be nice to let a memory or a thought take you to a place where you smile and the next person sees it causes a ripple effect.  Look around in the next public place you  visit, look at people’s smiles, and hopefully it will make you smile, too.

Forget the research done that proves that smiles are contagious, I think it’s proof enough that everyone has experienced it. Hopefully, just thinking about it makes you think off to nicer moments, regardless of the mood you’re in right now.  This reminded me of one of the great quotes by Buddy the Elf (Will Ferrell in Elf), “I just like to smile. Smiling’s my favorite!”

Just a note: I’ve read that smiling makes a person more attractive, and helps them to keep a positive outlook…so those are just two extra good reasons to keep smiling! 😀

Pick up a Book

At some point in my life, I became a really big reader. I have to admit that this great habit started with the Bridget Jones books and the Shopaholic series. Once I started reading a lot, I expanded my reads and started learning a lot of history from excellent novels and fictions. And then, I became a little arrogant and thought that if I was going to be reading so much, I needed to start reading books that “really matter.” Books that are thought-provoking, controversial, and, many times, political (I studied political science, so I do have a strong interest)…but guess what? Once I made that decision to read these non-fiction books, I stopped reading – completely! I didn’t pick up a book for a loooong time, and then, finally I was at the airport once and I grabbed a best-seller fiction from the airport bookstore right before I got on a plane. I hadn’t known much about the book, but the title sounded familiar. Once I got on the plane, I couldn’t put the book down. I finally picked up my great habit, again, and now I always make sure I have a book on my nightstand.

Sometimes a book can be a great friend. I feel like I miss a friend once I’ve finished the last page, but then I just pick up a new book and start all over.  I encourage you to go buy one and start reading.  No matter what your interest may be, you can find a book to enjoy by the pool, in your bed, while traveling, etc. And just a little advice for any nonreaders out there – if you like movies, you’ll love reading books…I promise!

Love Your Body

This is one of my favorite comics. I had it on my bulletin board all throughout college, and I just came across it the other day. This scenario is so true, but it’s also unfortunate. These girls are already afraid of what they will see on the scale, and they are so young. Don’t fight the scale, just don’t weigh yourself! At least that’s what I do! J The truth is, we need to learn to love our bodies.  Everybody is built differently, so we can never compare ourselves to others.  I know that is something that is hard for most women (and a lot of men, too). And, especially if you have kids, don’t let them grow up seeing you complain about what you see in the mirror or on the scale, it will affect their own body image as they grow up.

Look at your own body and accept yourself the way you are – whether you are pear shaped or hour-glass shaped, you’ve got big boobs or small boobs, big thighs or chicken legs, no butt or a big butt, or big build or a petite build. Just how will things change if we complain about them? It’s important to realize the benefits of our bodies and what we can do, instead of how our bodies look, and what is wrong with them. If your body parts are functional, then there is nothing wrong with them. I personally think that if I could appreciate my body more, I would take better care of it. And, the more you nurture your body, the more you will love it. After all, “If you don’t take care of your body, where will you live?” (Kobi Yamada). Your body is your home; maintain it, love it and care for it.

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