Thursday, July 29, 2010

In times of stress: Taking a Bath

I was going to add this into one of the others posts on destressing but decided it needed it's own post. Taking a bath to me is almost a religion and something I need to do more often.

I'm going to start off with a quote from Sylvia Plath, who describes why taking a bath is so good at relieving stress, much better than I could ever attempt at describing it

" I thought of crawling in between the bed-sheets and trying to sleep but that appealed to me about as much as stuffing a dirty scrawled-over letter into a fresh, clean envelope. I decided to take a bath.
There must be quite a few things a hot bath won't cure but I don't know many of them. Whenever I'm sad I'm going to die or so nervous I can't sleep or in love with somebody I won't be seeing for a week, I slump down just so far and then I say 'I'll go have a hot bath'.
I meditate in the bath. The water needs to be very hot, so hot you can barely stand putting your foot in it. Then you lower yourself, inch by inch, till the water's up to your neck......I never feel so much myself as when I'm in a hot bath.....I don't believe in baptism or the waters of Jordan or anything like that, but I guess I feel about a hot bath the way those religious people feel about holy water" (Adapted from The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath)

There's something so soothing about having a bath, I feel that as I sink in,the stress, anxiety and other bad things beginnings to melt away, dissolving into the surrounding water. The hot water soothes any physical stresses, often a bath or shower will help improve a headache. I usually read when I take a bath but sometimes I just lie down and listen to my breathing and heart rate, almost like a trance. Afterwards I feel new and pure again. It's incredible how something so simple can have such an amazing effect.

The perfect bath for me involves hot water, lots and lots of bubbles, a hair masque and some magazines, maybe even some candles. Recently I've been using Bubble Bars from Lush for my bubbles, though when I was younger The Body Shop was what I loved. If I'm feel particularly indulgent, I'll also use other bath products, using from Lush, like Bath Melts (chunks of oils and body butters that dissolve and that make your skin feel so soft after) and Bath Bombs/Ballistics (fizzing!). I'm always on the look out for new products to use so please feel free to recommend your favourite bath products!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hair Behaving Badly

It is a universally acknowledged truth that just before you go to change your hair in any shape or form, it begins to look great. Fact. It is something I have documented several times times in my life.

For example, for the past month and a half, I have been looking forward to getting my hair trimmed. I love having long hair but it was now at the top of my bum and it was just dragging me down. My hair is naturally thick and curly but at this length there was too much weight in it, pulling out the curl and just pulling my overall mood down. It was still relatively healthy and would have given Cheryl Cole a run for her money but I was getting sick of it. I eventually managed getting around to booking an appointment three days ago and low and behold, my hair began to behave itself! So much so, that I didn't want to get it cut after all! I went through with it though and boy am I relieved I did. It has been such a relief, it's a weight off my shoulders, both literally and figuratively. My mood has been lifted and I can swish my hair around more, which is always a bonus. And I will save a small fortune on hair products. I was quite surprised by this transformation in moods, but thinking about it, it makes sense. Hair has always been associated when moods, like having a bad hair day. Washing that man right out of your hair. And getting a bad hair cut or dye job is enough to turn on the waterworks and have a grown woman cry for days. I guess I just underestimated the mood changing power of a hair cut.

Now, back to the original topic. I haven't just noticed this when I go to cut my hair. Oh no, this happens every week when I go to wash it. Washing my hair is one of my biggest burdens, I would almost clean my room over washing my hair. Because of the length and thickness, it is such an effort to go wash it properly, there's more steps involved than I want to count right now (maybe another post on that). I often put it off until I need to wash it and then when I decide I will go have a shower, it starts looking good again! It's like it's saying 'NOOO! Don't wash me, I'll behave I swear!'. Like a bold child. I guess it's just one of those Laws of The Universe, like how you WILL look back on teenage pictures and cringe at the dreadful make up.

Does this happen with anyone else?

Saturday, July 24, 2010

In times of stress (part 2)

Different people find different things stress busting, it's a well known fact. And I know I'm not alone when I say I find cleaning stress relieving. To some, this sounds alien and something that would possibly stress them out more. For others, it's therapeutic. Of course for me, cleaning for stress relief does not include my room, oh no that's always a chore. For me, it has to be good ol' fashioned housework. To really work that stress away, there has to be lots of scrubbing, polishing, dusting, hoovering and mopping, getting right down to the nitty gritty. However, I also find organizing things can have a calming effect, I used to sort all my books and cds when I was younger and still do to a certain extend now.

And while on the subject of organization, another thing that seems to soothe my anxieties is making lists. Be it food shopping, what I have to do around the house, what I want to read next (or even things that relieve stress!), whatever it is, it does help. I suppose it's like airing out your mind and getting it all into order. Doesn't even matter if I don't stick to them, cos then I can write some more!

And lastly for now, music is a great mood buster. Sometimes when I'm down I like to listen to some sad songs, just for a bit to get it out of my system and then move on to something happier to cheer myself up (most likely some 80s music and/or something I can sing/screech along to). And if I'm angry, well there's so many songs out there that are perfect for venting frustration but the one that comes to mind straight away for me is Caught Out There by Kelis. 'I Hate You So Much Right Now!', don't think I could have put it better myself!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Memories and Music: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

I started writing this the other night but the procrastinator in me failed to go back to complete it until now!

I love most types of music, I'm willing to give every genre at least one shot (though inevitably there are certain types of music I just don't like). Like a lot of people, certain songs and albums remind me of different times in my life. I love the feeling of hearing a song you have forgotten about and all the memories flooding back in. It can be very bittersweet though, as while we prefer to remember happier times, certain songs remind us of sadder times in our lives. It can be upsetting but in a slightly twisted way, I like it, as without low points, they're couldn't be high points.

This album however is definitely full of good memories. I first discovered The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in the summer of 2002. I went to London for my cousin's First Holy Communion and stayed with my Nana, in my aunt's room, which I was only delighted about. It was crammed full of interesting books, magazines and cds for me to discover during my stay. This one stood out. I just fell in love with it. I remember buying the cd in an airport on the way home (at a better price!) and have adored it ever since. I would have called myself a casual Lauryn Hill fan before, I liked her Fugee stuff and Sister Act 2 is one of my many guilty pleasures, but this album really instilled my love of Ms Hill. Everything about this album is amazing to me, her voice, her clever lyrics and awesome rapping skills. My favourite songs off it are probably Doo Wop (That Thing) and Everything is Everything, though I love the whole album and wait like most Lauryn Hill fans for another possible album (which at the time of writing could be coming soon enough).

The memories that this album bring are probably what a lot of people, especially Irish people, remember of the summer of 2002: The World Cup. Not only do I remember the matches and the Roy Keane 'situation' but also the atmosphere in London at the time, especially amongst the Irish community there. It was so full of hope and excitement. This album brings back a lot of happy family memories, which I think stand out more in my mind because I remember listening to this album there. Dinners, singing, shopping, playing football and just enjoying life in general, in a city that I love.

And while this isn't a memory as such, it does help to remind me to stay positive. I'm not a natural optimist, so whenever I need help in keeping my chin up, I turn to this album and in particular this line in Everything is Everything: 'Develop a negative into a positive picture'. Beautiful

Friday, July 16, 2010

In times of stress (part 1)

A friend of mine recently asked what do I do to help 'soothe my soul', things that make myself feel better and didn't involve the potentially damaging comfort eating or shopping. Things that were 'good' to do to help unwind, destress and make you feel good about yourself. Well for me, I love to bake or cook. When the going get tough, the tough makes cookies. Or cupcakes or whatever tickles my fancy. I just find the following of recipes, weighing, dicing and other processes help to calm me down, keep me occupied and relax me. Only downside really is being left with loads of food, which leads you back to comfort eating but in a large household like mine, you're usually lucky to sample the treats you just made before the vultures swoop in to gulp them down!

Another thing I find soul soothing (I'm finding myself repeating that now as it just sounds so nice and relaxing, like whale sounds or something) is to knit. Not something I do often but during the college year I took up helping to create a charity blanket and so when I found myself getting anxious, usually over my final year project, I started knitting and the stress flowed from my body, through my fingertips and into the knitting cables I was creating. I advise if you are a beginner to knit something very simple, like a scarf or some squares, trying to follow a complicated pattern might be counter-productive and create more stress! Again, it helps by keeping your hands and mind occupied but it's not too taxing, thus allowing you to think some things over. Any crafting really that isn't too difficult will allow you to do this.

More to follow on this shortly!

I have a secret....

I'm a serial procrastinator. Ok, so maybe it's not that much of a secret to some people but I'm hoping that by admitting it like this it will help me recover some of my much missed motivation.

I used to be seriously organized and motivated but all shreds of that are long gone. It's gotten so bad that the self confessed magazine queen that I am has bought a few magazines the past month and instead of devouring them in one sitting like I usually would, they are still sitting there half read (though that could be because I'm getting bored of reading the same articles over and over again, that's for another post methinks). I think the saying 'If you want someone to do something for you, ask a busy person' is so true, I have a list of things as long as my arm to complete, some so easy and yet seeing as there is no real urgency to complete them and I haven't got a lot on my plate right now, the list keeps piling up. I need some sort of deadline to put on myself so right here and now, I vow that by this time next week I will have cleared that list.

One of those things on my list is to clean my bedroom. Sounds easy enough but believe you me, it's not. I came home from college and just kinda landed my stuff in my room and that was it. Bags and boxes have become covered with more bags. My wardrobe might as well be completely empty, seeing as the floor has now become the wardrobe (though at least Tim the Clothes Camel feels loved and used). I would take a picture to put up on here but the holy mortifying shame is too much for me to handle. It's strange, I love the rest of the house to be clean and tidy and enjoy doing most household chores but when it comes to my room, that has never been the case. I think that needs to be the main thing on my list, declutter this room. In doing so, I hope that it will help me declutter my mind and kick start that motivation. Wish me luck, I'm going to need it!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What's with the name?!

Part of the reason I delayed so much when it came to creating a blog was because I was so busy in college the past year (that's final year for you, be warned!). Another major reason was because I just couldn't think of a name for it! I seriously wracked my brains and no matter what, I couldn't think of anything witty or snappy or memorable or cute. The few times I did think of something I liked, it was already taken (upon investigation, one that I really liked was not only taken but not even being used, the name was just taken cos it was such a well known phrase and they didn't want others to use it. Brats). Anywho, I finally came up with 'Rare Opal' yesterday, I was so proud of it. I mentioned it to one of my brothers and.... silence. I think I could hear the crickets outside it was that quiet. He didn't know what to make of it. Thinking that while he wouldn't 'get it' and that my sister would, I rushed to tell her, only to get this response: It sounds like the name of some antiques store. Wah wah wah waaaaaaahhhh. But by this stage I had already created it and decided I would stick with it, even if it did sound like I was trying to flog some antiques.

I chose 'Rare Opal' for a few reasons. First off, opal is my birth stone and I'd always been fascinated by them, their colours especially black opals and the mysteries around them. Opals are associated with bad luck, in retrospect not something you'd want with a blog or any new venture but they are apparently good luck if they are your birthstone, so phew! If I'm being really honest, I only thought of opal as a blog name when I looked at my new painted nails, which looked like opals to me. To go with opal, I chose 'rare' as my own name is quite rare. I've never met anyone with the same name as me though I know they exist! I guess another reason I picked it is cos I'm one of a kind!

My First Blog

I've been wanting to set up a blog for a good while now, well over a year. Every now and again my mind will wander and I'd find myself thinking that I should record these random musings in a blog but never got around to setting one up. Of course, now that I've set one up, I'll probably be pushed to find interesting topics to blog about! C'est la vie!

I'm not sure what this blog will deal with, whether I'll try keep it specific to certain topics, a personal diary-like blog or just write about everything and anything. So yet another thing that I can't make up my mind about, though that's for another post. Ara sure, I guess we'll find out together as this blog adventure continues. Tally ho!
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