Ah, yes the holidays. The time of year when it’s ok to eat until you burst, drink/eat pumpkin spiced EVERYTHING 24-7 and indulge in “the lowest prices of the year”. Then we just excuse everything with three little words, “It’s the Holidays!” I don’t know about all of you, but I have no idea how Thanksgiving is over, it’s almost the end of November and how everything has happened in such a lightning speed blur this year.
And with everything going on, in the world, (God, Goddess, Allah, Satan or whomever you pray to-please helps us), and even right here in Los Angeles, this Holiday season is, in my opinion, a bitter-sweet time for so many people, myself included. It makes me so sad to think of the thousands of people displaced by the 2 major fires in California. There are a lot of people who have lost their lives or their homes or lost loved ones and I am just talking about the tragedy here, so close to where I live. Not to mention people being shot at their places of worship or children who are being killed AT SCHOOL!? HOW, WHY?!?!?!!?!?! How do we live in a society like this?
Ok listen, I am not here to complain or be a downer to anyone reading this, but this is my blog so I can say/write whatever I want to write about and right now, I needed to get that off my chest. So, thanks for letting me vent.
I mean, let’s be honest, I am not going to write this entire post about everything I need to get off my chest, because truthfully, I would rather focus on the positives and this is an article about remaining calm, so no need to raise your anxiety levels…more. But I do think it’s important to talk about these things, instead of how I was raised to deal, which was, “There’s nothing you can do about it, so don’t waste your time and energy getting all upset”… yeah, can we say, suppressed emotions much? Gotta love #family.
This year, more than ever has spiked my anxiety, paranoia and overall fear of death, so that’s been less than ideal but also it has been a clear reminder of why I needed to practice being grateful, thankful and mindful. Also, now more than ever, I feel like it’s important to reflect on how blessed I really am.
I have recently discovered that being thankful and grateful is the key to living a better, fuller, healthier life and also a good way to see progress in my life vs just complaining, blaming everyone else or finding all of the things that are “wrong”. Just doing a few simple things have helped me beyond anything I have tried before and I would recommend them to anyone who is having trouble dealing with all that is happening AND to help you deal with Holiday Stress. Ugh, Black Friday, I see you and I wish you’d go away. Thanks.
Ok, now that all of that is out-of-the-way, here are the 3 things that help me, in no particular order.
1- I started meditating. Everyday.
I know, I KNOW, it sounds so cliché, but it’s the first time in a long time that I have stuck to a regiment and it’s actually life-changing. I have specific meditations that I use but sometimes I just go to YouTube and type in “guided meditation” or if I just want to have music playing I search for “meditation music”. I can only do 15-20 mins once a day, for now, but before I couldn’t sit still for 5 minutes or would just fall asleep for YEARS whenever I tried this. The ways that this has helped me are endless…in short, I am more productive, I am calmer, (which if you know me, you KNOW how feisty I am), I am more focused and it’s caused me to take time out for myself, every day, no matter what. I also love Abraham Hicks’s 10 minute Good Morning Meditation on YouTube and a lot of times Deepak Chopra & Oprah offer a 21 day guided meditation program that I have done more than once. Meditating is something I can’t imagine NOT doing every day, now that I’ve created such a healthy habit around it, but it took me really giving into it and not being so resistant. So if you are struggling with this, maybe think about going into it with the mindset that it’s going to be an awesome experience and see where it takes you. I mean, what do you have to lose except maybe your stress, anxiety etc. DO IT!
2- I write morning pages. 3 pages and sometimes more. EVERYDAY.
What the hell are morning pages? I know, I had no clue either, until many moons ago, when I was recommended by every person in my life, therapist, acting coach, acting friends etc, to try them so that I could help “clear the clutter and slow down my super busy mind”. You basically write 3 pages every day, of whatever comes to your mind. The key is not to think about this just write what’s in your head. So, like the willing to try anything once type of person that I am, I tried it, a lot and after a few days, I stopped and claimed it didn’t help me at all, because at the time it didn’t.
But when I was reminded about doing them this past summer, I made a promise to myself that I would try them again, for 30 days. Then it took me until October 21st to actually do them, but, that’s not what important! What’s important is that I did them and November 21st marked 1 full month of morning pages. Everyday. Whoot Whoot! And like meditating, it is something I had to give into and actually WANT to do, with no one forcing me or telling me it would be good for me.
Now, I actually look forward to this when I wake up and can feel a difference when I don’t do this first thing. It’s best to do this as soon as you wake up and as one person put it, “before your feet hit the ground”. Now, I can’t say that I have done this every time, because, I like most people have to pee as soon as I wake up. And sometimes I decide to meditate first and then do my pages. So it’s ALL UP TO YOU. You do you. I just feel it when I start my day without them and write them after emails, phone calls etc. have already happened…I don’t feel as refreshed or focused tbh.
This has also made it VERY easy for me to not obsess over something that might have happened or a crazy dream I had. I just write it all out, get it out of my head and for the most part, I am able to move on and focus my energy on the things I love and need to do. Also, I’ve been advised that it’s very important to not read them after so I haven’t and I think it’s for the best. This is such a great practice, at least for me it has been and I would say if you tend to have trouble in the same ways I did, try it. Again, what do you really have to lose?
3- I write a list of what I am thankful/grateful for. Every day.
This one is something that I had never thought of even trying until a good friend mentioned that this is something she started doing and it really shifted her perspective and my acting coach asked us to write out 5 things we were grateful for, every day. So I thought, ok, let’s see what this is all about and I tried it.
Don’t get me wrong, I was raised to be thankful for what I have but that was taught to me as a discipline that in my case was culturally fueled by fear. At least that what I believe for myself. Instead of being taught to count my blessings because we truly were blessed and deserved what we had, I was taught, “We are very lucky to have what we have and that can be taken away at any time so be thankful, every day because we might not have this tomorrow.”
That way of thinking actually shifted how I thought about the things that I had/have and made me feel like I should only be so lucky because I really wasn’t worthy of having things, even if I had worked very hard for them. It was humbling, but there’s a great saying, about worrying less about being humble and to focus more on having some humility, which makes a lot of sense to me. So anywho, back to my point.
When I write out a list of the things I am grateful/thankful for, even if they end up being the same things as the day/week/month before, it brings a smile to my face and I am immediately reminded how beautiful life is. Sometimes when I am feeling really down, whether it’s about acting, life or anything really, I force myself to write about what I am grateful for and my mood shifts entirely!
I will say, this one has been a little challenging for me to do daily and I am working on it but I do it at least 2-3 times a week, which I think is better than not doing it at all. Life is short people and I’m not saying that this is the cure-all for all of your problems or that it will make you feel the same way I felt. But, if you’re not already doing this, give it a try and really take stock in how you feel afterward. I believe it will make a significant difference even if you are skeptical but hey, it’s your call.
Well, there you have it, folks! And while there are other things I do to remain calm, yoga, walking my dog, coloring, dancing, singing, dishes/cleaning (no joke, I REALLY love to clean, LOL), the above mentioned 3 things, are truly the groundwork for the other things I do, to have a positive impact on my life and career. Remember EVERYONE IS DIFFERENT! What works for me, might not work for you. But if you’re anything like me, you’re willing to try new things in order to find a solution vs talking about how miserable life can be. AMIRIGHT?!
I would love to hear from YOU! What are some daily practices you do that you can’t live without?
Be safe out there this holiday season everyone and remember, YOU hold the power to your life, so own that shit and be the badass that you were born to be!
Thankful, Grateful, Blessed,