Five Ways to Find Home

And so it has officially begun. The holiday season has been fully and firmly thrust into full force — at least, here in NJ it has, what with our Thanksgiving Eve and Day snows and the fact that every light post in town is decked out with garland and tinsel. And around my place it's officially Christmastime too — I've pulled out the winter candles, big velvet bows, and hand-carved Santa Clauses that make up for the fact that my place is too tiny for a tree. I'm three-quarters done with my Christmas shopping, and only have one question mark left on my list of gifts to buy. I am all in.
I've made my pledge to have a stress-free holiday season, and I'm so happy to report that I'm off to a strong start. This Thanksgiving, for literally the first year ever that I can remember, not only was I not yelled at or blamed for anything at all, but there was in fact no yelling around me whatsoever — except, of course, for at the TV during football games. (They're a perfectly reasonable exception.) But the race has only just kicked off, and I'm not going to coast on through the next few weeks sans stress without a little bit of effort.

Being the type of person I am — to recap, that's high-stress, Type A, with OCD and anxiety issues (I'm a real picnic) — it's important to have a few tried-and-true methods of clearing the fog, so to speak. Sometimes when the to-do list gets too long, the budget gets too tight, the hours get to be too few, I lose my center, and I know I can't be the only one who feels this way sometimes. So as an early holiday gift, I'm letting you in on a few little secrets. Here are five things I know I can do to refocus, find my center, and reboot.
(image via)
1. Journal/write/blog. It may sound trite or cliche, and I know it's redundant around here, but sometimes, I swear, it's simply the feel of a pen in my hand that I scratch along notebook paper, or the sound my fingers make dragging themselves over my keyboard (I partially credit the latter to ASMR) that helps inch me back toward my center of gravity. And that's only for starters, because once I'm writing, that's when the real work begins. Whether what I write makes any sense or not, as soon as I make a connection to paper or screen, and as soon as the million things I have buzzing around in my mind become tangible things, I feel a sense of unburdening. It's kind of like how Dumbledore describes using the Pensieve (GUYS I CAN MAKE THESE REFERENCES NOW AND I TOTALLY GET IT!) in Harry Potter. It's as if once I get the thoughts, tasks, memories, concerns out of this fictional, fantasy, dream-like state of being that exists only in my mind, I can look at them in a way that makes me make sense of them. That's why I always come back to my page, whichever one I want it to be.

2. A gentle stretching or restorative yoga practiceThough unlikely a surprise to anyone who reads here often, it has to be said. For me, this works not only because I love yoga and it's a welcome part of my routine. Truly, I would recommend this to non-yogis alike. You don't have to be flexible to enjoy a deep stretch (and I always love when I hear people say they won't stretch/can't do yoga because they aren't flexible... you realize one feeds the other, yes? I digress...) and you can benefit from yoga even if it's something you only do every once in a while. It's a connection you make with your body, the vessel of every other thing you experience, externally and internally. I always feel like warming up my body in this gentle manner helps me reach my roots, grounds me, and if I'm really lucky, helps me ease into a meditation. (Try these: one two three four)

3. A long, hard run or other intense workout. Much the same as stretching or yoga helps me reconnect to my body, running does the same thing, just in a more intense way. If I'm feeling particularly edgy, or angry in my anxiousness, running is the better way to go. The bonus is that when it's rough or tough enough, I can run my way right to a PR on a good day. But the biggest benefit comes with the fact that I have more moments of clarity and deep, productive thought on a run than nearly anywhere else these days. And if I'd rather not have deep thoughts, I zone out on my footsteps and playlist of the day. No phone. No email. No social media. No one else but me. More times than not, I come in the door having sweat out not only a few hundred calories but also whatever all-consuming stress pushed me outside in the first place. 

4. Shower, tea, book. In that order. The shower works out the headache or joint pain or muscle aches or back pain or whatever other way my emotional or mental pain wants to manifest physically, and washes the day away. Tea works from the inside out, soothing a stomachache, headache, cramps, cold crankiness. The book takes me on an adventure, demanding enough of my mind and energy so I can't dwell on whatever I'm dwelling on. The combination of all three is in exercise in extreme relaxation. I dare you to mix the three to your liking and not come out feeling lighter than air.

5. Call mom. The person may be different for everyone, but the point is a simple one: Call your biggest fan. My mother drives me absolutely nuts sometimes with the way she acts like I hung the moon, but when I'm down, she brings me back up. Talking to her is easy and familiar and comfortable and I can tell her pretty much anything. And she'll both tell me what I want to hear and what I need to hear. We all have to have someone like that in our lives to remind us, even in a somewhat grandiose fashion now and then, how much light we can bring to others' lives.

Sometimes I forget how effective each one of these things is when the sky is falling, so I'm hoping by posting it I'll remember to call on whichever of these techniques I need at any point that I'll surely need them over the coming weeks. And maybe you'll find some help through the hectic holidaze with one of these tools too. 

What's your favorite way to regroup and come back to center when life gets a little too crazy? I can always use a back-up plan...


  1. A stress free holiday season sounds like a win to me! I like to read or watch TV and just relax to re-group.

  2. I have been ending my days with a warm cup of tea after a really great workout - that really helps me get through the holidays!! Happy Monday girl!

  3. So happy to hear that your Thanksgiving was peaceful and enjoyable!
    I appreciate the early gift ;) I am determined to stay centered and not lose my damn mind!

  4. Shower, tea, book is my favourite. Except, let's be honest and acknowledge that I always swap out the tea for wine or whiskey hahaha. Whenever I've been stressed or heartbroken or needing to take my mind off of reality, books are my go-to. Getting lost in a story calms me down and gets me out of my own head - which is very needed sometimes! I'm very happy to hear your holidays are stress-free so far and I think you 100% made the right decision to cut out that family member who makes things unbearable. Have you heard anything from the other members on your dad's side as to whether this person acted as usual or made any significant change?

  5. my mum acts a little like a hung the moon as well, and then gets mad that i left lol, but i always turn to her when i need to. oh and bath, tea and book - definitely my go to. running is a great stress prevention thingy for me, if I'm really upset or stressed it doesn't really help but the more I run, the less likely I am to get stressed. I don't know why that is.
    Yay HP references!!!

  6. almost nothing that can't be fixed by a good book and delicious cup of tea.

  7. My poor mother gets all of my frustrated phone calls. I swear she is 100% my therapist on a daily basis. I'm glad the start of your holidays have been low stress girl.

  8. I do everything on that list. Call mom (which I literally just did - haha) is at the top of that list! Also I just decorated my apt too... and by decorate I mean I put up my Christmas Kangaroo haha - bah hambug

  9. You're never too old to call your mom! That's always a winner in my book! :) Also, to the shower, tea, book... I'd add freshly washed sheets and a candle! HEAVEN! :D

  10. I agree with every single point! I'm really, REALLY interested in starting yoga. The pathetic thing is I feel I have no time. At least for the next 2 weeks, then school ends and my nights are all mine again. I need to start though, and the online thing just isn't working for me right now. Although, I did find a studio 2 blocks from me, $20/class including hot yoga, which I love. So excited to try it out.

  11. This is a post after my own heart. I've been feeling really frazzled with the holidays this year! It seems like time is passing by way faster than I can keep up with it. 4 & 5 have been my go-to lately but I definitely need to incorporate the others into my routine.


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