By: Miranda Howard
Empty calories, empty words, vacant thoughts. We’ve all been there. In times of extreme emotion or exhaustion or anxiety, it’s far too easy to camp out on the couch with a bag of Oreo’s, to answer questions with an absent-minded “uh huh,” to zone out in front of the television and allow ourselves to completely check out of reality. And, that’s okay. We all need a mental health break sometimes. That should be the exception for dealing with overwhelm, though, not the rule.
I find that we redheads tend to be a passionate and sensitive lot, so it’s easy for us to become bogged down by the responsibilities, stressors, and uncertainties of life. We feel deeply and even, in some cases, take on the feelings of others. I don’t know about y’all, but I want to feel everything, bad and good. Emotional depth, sincerity, and openness are beautiful traits common among redheads, but those qualities can become a heavy load to carry when life gets crazy. Luckily, there are some simple things we can all do every day that will allow us to be more present in the moment and less worried about what’s waiting down the road.
1. Be in your body.
Even if you only have the time and energy for five minutes, get yourself moving. Take a walk around your office building during your lunch break; sneak in a few squats while brushing your teeth; do some shoulder stretches and gentle spinal twists in your desk chair to give yourself a boost when you realize that you’ve been hunched over that spreadsheet all day. Movement is one of the most fundamental and vital components to a happy, emotionally satisfied life and is a great coping mechanism. That gorgeous red hair of yours is just begging to blow in the wind, to catch that glimmer of sunlight, to swish gracefully in a bouncy ponytail. Not to mention that exercise is great for your hair (as well as skin and nails and a whole host of other things), so if your shimmery locks are looking less than luscious, try some endorphins on for size!
2. Say something nice to yourself.
I grew up hating my freckles, my pale skin, the almost transparent redhead eyebrows that disappeared against my equally translucent skin. It was just too easy to look in the mirror and criticize, especially when it seems to be a common experience among us to have been picked on to some degree for at least one of those attributes. I hope you’ve realized it already, but you were born to stand out. Those qualities give you an edge in that department and I hope you’ve come to love them. If you still find it too easy to criticize, if you do it absent-mindedly, I challenge you to look your lovely self in the eye at least once a day and commend yourself for being honest and smart, for not flashing a rude gesture at the guy who cut you off on your early morning sprint to the quick mart for the milk and cereal you forgot yesterday, for finishing that big project at work. I promise you, you’ve done many things already today to be proud of and, even if you haven’t made it out of bed or brushed your teeth, you are astounding and there is something to praise yourself for.
3. Take a breath.
I’m not telling you that you need to full on meditate (meditation is great and if you have any interest at all, you should look into it), but a few minutes of deep, conscious breathing, grounding, and focused awareness is great for finding perspective and coming down from high emotion. Give yourself the opportunity to be still with your thoughts and feelings, to process whatever is going on in your life, and to regain a sense of peace and calm. As I said above, we gingers are passionate and tend to deep emotion. We can get carried away by those passions from time to time. Some silence and stillness can help carry us back to ourselves, to the present moment, and to the realization that passion doesn’t have to become reaction.
4. Read. Do a Sudoku.
Learn to count to five in a foreign language. Every day is an opportunity for learning, for expanding awareness, for attempting to become an inhabitant of this big world full of adventure and the unknown instead of simply hibernating in the small corner of space that we inhabit. Redheads are known for being full of fire and thirst for life. Own that. Step outside of your comfort zone, even if it’s stepping into the pages of a book. Grow. Expand. Challenge yourself.
5. Reach out. Volunteer. Smile.
Buy someone’s lunch. Make dinner for a friend who’s struggling. Some of the moments when we are most present in our own lives is when we are doing good for others. Our lives are small and empty without connections. Strive to do one small thing every day that fosters an existing connection or forges a new one, that extends a hand to someone who needs one, that forces you to step outside of yourself. The secret redhead appreciation society that prompts all of us to exchange a smile or some small greeting of kinship and acceptance with every other redhead we encounter? Extend that to everyone. Let your circle grow large. Astound yourself and others with your muchness. Mean it.
We owe it ourselves to live a legitimate life, driven by meaningful and present connections. Sometimes we all need to be more aware. And, if you aren’t as present as you’d like to be today, strive to live more mindfully tomorrow. Every day presents an opportunity (or several) and opening up our awareness allows us to better reach out and grab for every one that comes our way. Live that fiery, glorious redhead passion and behold all that you are capable of.
Namaste, kindred spirits. Rock it like a Redhead!