The Introspective Salon
It has come to my attention lately that I like to hold onto things with tremendous force. It's as if I'm worried whatever I'm holding might just slip from my grasp and be lost to me forever. I have to surmise that this is a habit I've had for much of my life because I'm so freakishly good at it. When I'm driving, I hold on for dear life. When I'm reading a book, it doesn't rest in my hands, no, it has little chance of escaping my grip. When I'm writing, I bear down on the pen or pencil and ensure that each letter is dark and visible against the white paper.
Even more times I death grip shit: when I'm brushing my teeth, when I'm loofah-ing in the shower, when I hold my phone, when I hold silverware as I eat, when I'm grabbing my keys, when I'm putting on lip balm, when I try and relax with those adult coloring books (damn that).
I've become more aware of this habit as I've been developing some pain in my wrists and lower arms. Now, I've been typing a lot more lately and I know that is a contributor, but my death grip sure as hell doesn't help. It doesn't help my wrists, it doesn't help the muscles in my neck or shoulders, and it doesn't help my mental health.
The ways in which bodies hold physical stress only contribute to the mental stress, and my mental stress becomes corporeal in other ways. Ways that I know I've been developing since I was a kid.
My hands aren't the only part of my body that death grips, my legs do too. If ever my husband and I play wrestle, I know I can bring him down if I just position myself to where I'm pulling on him with my legs. If I get him wrapped up in my meaty thighs, there's no way he's escaping. Between the death grip in my hands and my legs, my body is practically never at ease. Even at night, I death grip my teeth. I just might whittle them down to little white nubs at the rate I grind them in my sleep. And lately, I find myself unconsciously grinding and locking my jaw during the day!
I know I'm starting to sound a little whiny, but all this has been to say that I'm becoming aware of these problems so I can FIX them. I'm conscious of my death grip now, so I can loosen up. I'm aware of the way I hold my jaw tight and locked so I can give it a rest and more importantly, I'm starting to develop strategies like placing my tongue over the top of my molars so I'm not tempted to bite down.
I don't like what stress does to me. It strips me of playfulness and makes me tired, so I'm going to do what I can to stop these physical manifestations so that my body can be calm, which in turn will make my mind calm. In addition to noticing and halting myself from death grips, I know that even two minutes a day of mindful breathing can help me start to respond to stress in healthier ways.
Go forth, will you, and develop strategies to halt the surfacing of corporeal stress, because once it's in your teeth, hands, shoulders, legs or wherever it wants to go, it's a bitch.
Huzah! Here I am, making good on a promise I made myself, that I would make a montly favorites. As nearly every other person, I was pretty busy in December, but also, well, I always think I could be busier. Nevertheless, I spent quite a lot of my time doing something that I'll mention below.
I have come up with two favorites for this month, activities that I enjoyed, and I'd like to make sure I remember them, because, you know, the allure of television sometimes badgers me. The sitcoms of the 90s and early 2000s are a guilty pleasure of mine. Oh, and there was that time last year when I got caught in a funk of watching Obsessive Compulsive Cleaners (probably should have included that show in
But, I digress.
The image I've used for this category is meant for family because it's like a picture frame. It works. It's a masterpiece of imagery.
My first favorite for this month is visiting my Grandpa. It is not a favorite that he had to get both his knees replaced and be in recovery at a rehabilitation facility for two weeks, but it is a favorite that the facility was here, where I live, and I got to visit him nearly every day.
In my own head, I tout the importance of family, but I often let myself believe that I'm too busy to see them. Well, I didn't have that excuse this time. I'm the least busy I've probably ever been in my life, especially since I've been on break from school, so I made it a priority to go and visit him. It was nice to see him because I made the effort, and so, for the first time, it was like I was seeing him as a man who is more than just my Grandpa. I guess it seems silly, like no-duh he has a life besides his grandkids, but when the only time you see someone is for family get-togethers it can be easy to forget the life your extended family has outside of holidays and birthday parties.
I was so glad that I had the time for him while he was healing. It was wonderful to see all my family come to support him. Someone was there with him every day and I was able to see how big a difference family support can make when you're in recovery. I feel like I should have more of a story to weave, but I did write a small vignette about the experience that you can read here.
The book icon isn't entirely accurate, here, because this favorite is a blog, but you know, Microsoft Word still uses the floppy disk as an icon for save.
I stumbled across the blog Brainpickings several years ago now, but only just recently started truly engaging with its material. This beautiful little blog is clearly well-researched and crafted with care and passion. All week I've had articles open in countless tabs so I wouldn't forget to read them later. One of my favorites was, The Science of Stress and How our Emotions Affect Our Susceptibility to Burnout and Disease. Did you know, the modern concept of 'stress' wasn't even explored until the 1950s? No wonder American culture still has such a hard time grasping the idea that working 80 hour weeks increases our chances of falling ill.
It's amazing, too, how the author, Maria Popova, maintains an ad-free space. She is clearly dedicated to her work. I highly recommend Popova's blog.
Now, I can't recommend you go visit my Grandpa, but I do recommend you make more time for loved ones. Being able to surround yourself with friends and family is truly a blessing.
Go forth, will you, to visit your family and read more.