When was the last time you remember laughing? I'm not talking about a chuckle you had from a Facebook video, or from a meme your friend tagged you in to look at. I think we do those things almost every day, right? I'm talking about the kind of laughter that shakes your entire body from head to foot, where you have actual tears streaming from your eyes and your face looks like you just spent hours in the sun it's so red. I ask when the last time you REALLY laughed that way was because I myself couldn't remember when I thought about it a few days ago. I realized it had been a while, a really long while.
I'm not the most uptight person you've ever met, but I'm also not the most carefree either. I care about people, the world, my family and friends, a LOT. Sometimes probably too much. I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I spend a lot of my time caring about other people and how I can improve their day. It's a huge reason I decided to become an EMT. I wanted a career where I could do something meaningful, something that would leave an impression on other people. I couldn't think of anything more worthwhile than taking care of a person and their family on one of or the absolute worst day of their life.
But in thinking so much about others, in ignoring my own thoughts and feelings so often, I've found that I don't laugh very much and most of the time, my smile doesn't quite reach my eyes. It doesn't help that I can be a serious introvert because I care about peoples opinions too much. The human mind and heart can be both complicated and often, they conflict with one another. Sometimes my mind wants to react one way, and sometimes my heart wants to react in an opposing way. It depends on the day that determines which one will win out, but it's usually my heart.
And my heart has been broken more times than I can begin to count or recall. Some of the heartbreak has been caused by others, and some of it has been caused by my own self because of mistakes and decisions I have made throughout my life.
Now, I want you to ask yourself another question I've been thinking about. When was the last time you stopped taking yourself so seriously? I get it, life is intense. There are terrible people that do terrible things every day, and sad things that happen way too often.
I know that you not getting the right order at your favorite restaurant sucks. I realize that tragedy strikes in many forms and that is also sucks. I know there are small and large things that you can point out right now that all have the capacity to weigh you down in some way. I get it. I'm not saying those things aren't real or that the time you give those things is wrong. I don't know you, I don't know your life.
I do know, however, that sometimes... We need to throw our hands in the air. We need to cancel that meeting we're dreading, or choose not to see that person who has been weighing us down. I think sometimes... It's okay to run away from our problems. To take a time out. Not forever, because that hurts us in the long run, right? But I think it's okay to tell your demons that you'll talk to them later sometimes, to close the door on them every once in a while.
I think everyone decompresses differently, but here are a few suggestions I think you might like to try:
1. Stay in your pajamas ALL day. What's one day without a shower any way?
2. Put on your most comfortable slippers and refuse to take them off until you're good and ready, thank you very much.
3. Go to your favorite restaurant in your fanciest dress or suit and order the most expensive thing on the menu. And don't you dare look at the calories.
4. Go to a late night movie by yourself. No, really. Go by yourself. There's something relaxing and freeing about going to a movie by yourself.
5. Take that vacation you've been putting off for whatever reason. It doesn't have to be extravagant or long, but take a day or two away from your real life and go somewhere new.
6. Have a movie or TV show marathon with your best friend, or by yourself, I don't judge. 10 Grey's Anatomy episodes in one day is sometimes the best medicine. I never get tired of looking at Jackson Avery, personally.
7. Take a REALLY long bath like you see in the movies. I'm talking chocolate (or whatever treat you enjoy if you're like me and don't like chocolate), include your favorite drink and way too many bubbles and candles. Set up your laptop or TV and watch whatever show you're currently binge watching. It's Game of Thrones for me right now, for like... The fifth time.
8. Go on a scenic drive with your windows rolled down and your music turned up so loudly you can't hear yourself sing. But sing along any way. Sing your heart out and if someone stares at you funny, stare at them right back.
9. Cry. Cry as hard and for as long as you want. A good cry is cleansing for the soul, I think.
10. Have a day away from social media, from family, and focus on yourself and your thoughts. Pick up that book you've been meaning to read forever.
11. LAUGH. Find the funniest movie, or the most ridiculous comedy special on Netflix, and LAUGH. Please laugh! For an embarrassingly long time. Laugh so hard that you cry, and for so long that your head starts to ache. Laugh until you see stars and keep laughing.
12. Find the thing, the person, the situation where you feel the most safe and bask in it. Tell someone that you love how much you love them.
13. Perform an act of service for someone else. It always brings life to my soul whenever I do an act of service for someone else. And don't do it to expect something in return, do it because you want to help that person out.
14. Do something new, something adventurous. Something you have always dreamed of doing, but you've been too afraid to do it. Take that fear and turn it into action.
My bottom line is this: Life will always be a roller coaster of time and having too much or too little of it, endless emotions and feelings, good and bad days. That will never change. We will change, but the way life itself operates is pretty much always going to stay the same. So we need to remember to laugh! We need to remember to smile, and smile our REAL smiles. Not the smile you use when you're pretending.
Life is too short, too hard, too heartbreaking to not remember to take a moment for ourselves every now and then..
And when you've done that, when you feel like your spirits are lifted and your tears and laughter have all faded away, put on your big girl/boy pants, trade your slippers for sneakers (or flats, I LOVE flats), and open the door where you locked your demons away. Look them in the eye and tell them, "I'm ready for you now."