Gratitude. You’ve got to learn to feel it or you’ll never smell the roses. Thinking the pasture yonder is greener than your side of the patch distracts you from looking behind and seeing other leas more parched and dried out than the seemingly sad spot you’re on. So, be thankful that isn’t your lot. Finding the things to be grateful for, even for the mundane things you often take for granted, could help you realise that life isn’t as bad as you perceive it to be at the moment.
But whoa!…let’s hold the gratitude spiel for a tad. While gratitude is a very good thing, being grateful all the time is too ideal and even perhaps too unhealthy to turn on 24/7, especially on bad hair days. Unless we’re saints, we can’t consistently be grateful for the lemons we get. Nope, sour lemons definitely suck, some more than others. So while we do need to strive to encompass as much gratitude for our own happiness and contentment, we also need to embrace our human tendency to feel disappointed, frustrated, depressed, angry, and hurt.
Why? Shouldn’t negative emotions be shunted? The answer is no. Being human means feeling and being aware of all ranges of emotion. Our emotions are there to tell us something. Human emotions, the good and the bad, have evolved to help keep us from danger, learn from errors, appreciate life, and better our world. Compartmentalising our emotions or worse, negating them by forcing a replacement feeling on them (in this case, false gratitude) turns us into people so out of touch with ourselves.
This is not to say that we shouldn’t count our blessings. We should as much as we can. What we shouldn’t do is negate our feelings.
Letting Yourself Be
Jealousy or envy is an unpleasant feeling one hates to experience; yet, it does make a person face his inadequacies. Negative feelings force a person to change his behaviour. The question is: Should he do something to better his odds or put himself down indefinitely? In any case, it is an individual’s choice.
Negating your envy by immediately chastising yourself to be grateful does not make you learn about yourself. Why are you really feeling this way when others are not? Uncomfortable emotions should be harnessed to help us analyse our core problem. Use your emotions, both good and bad, to teach you something about yourself. Tamping down your negative emotions immediately by telling ourselves we need to be grateful for what we have is a recipe for failing ourselves later on. Gratitude is great and oftentimes necessary; but it can wait while you sort yourself out.
You only have the here and now; the past is gone, the future is yet to come. You need to live in the present as authentically as you can. This means being in touch with all your feelings. To experience life to the fullest, you need to permit yourself to feel without judgement. Invalidating your negative emotions by pressuring ourselves to be grateful instead of being very aware of the whats and the whys of our feelings, will simply frustrate genuine personal growth. Our personal pains and joys are the experiences that give us the insights and perspectives to tackle other situations later on. You need to feel, recognise, and manage these emotions so these can serve as a wellspring of learning tools for character strengthening and building.
Techniques for Releasing False Gratitude
Perhaps you may have been conditioned over the years to cast aside bad feelings and replace them with thankful ones. As sensible as this sounds, allow yourself to really feel that disappointment and that hurt before coming to terms with your situation. To keep in touch with yourself when the baddies hit, you should:
Define your “feel bad” space.
Know where you can go when on the verge of a meltdown or a major hissy fit. Your car, bedroom, or anywhere you feel safe can double as your “feel bad” place. That space should be a comfortable one where you can really be your honest self.
Let it out with someone you trust.
Find a trustworthy friend who genuinely has your back and the ear for your whining, ranting, and probable silences. Let out what you honestly feel and don’t once say that you need to be grateful for something unless you really mean it.
Gratitude, of course, is vital to happiness; but, if you use it in a game of cover-up and pretence of emotions, you will simply be hiding your head in the sand, deluding yourself that all is well and subsequently do nothing about your situation.
Gratitude must be felt genuinely for you to feel truly blessed in life. And where can you find such depth of gratitude? You will find it from embracing all your emotions as one of life’s teaching tools, not negating them.
Got your health and fitness routine nailed squarely on the head? Great! Let’s hope those healthy habits haven’t been constantly undermined by unhealthy weekend behaviour.
Most of us have the inclination to reward ourselves for sticking to our health routines five continuous days a week. When the weekend rolls in, we use this as our excuse to let our hair down a little (or a lot!) where our health is concerned. Besides, we’ve earned it from staying so “good” all week, right?
Wrong. Splurging on calories, less rest, and social bad habits like smoking are weekend “rewards” that could cost you your disciplined weekday health efforts in the long run.
Going Off Track with Your Diet
With a habitual “just-for-the-weekend” mindset, indulgences on a huge slice (or two) of “Death by Chocolate” or a gargantuan bag of chips while movie binge-ing, shouldn’t bring good news from your weighing scale come Monday. Of course, you will be trying to fry off those offending new pounds during the week but this chronic little yo-yoing can eventually catch up with some creeping pounds by the end of the year.
For a year, researchers at the Washington University tracked body weight of 48 adults between the ages of 50 and 60. The subjects were divided into three groups: the first group was meted a daily calorie restriction of 20 percent; the second was told to increase their exercise daily by 20 percent; and the third, the control group, was not required to make any changes in their diet or exercise regimens.
The study revealed that all three groups tended to eat more from Friday to Sunday. Although some lost weight when the work week started, not all of the poundage was lost. By the end of the year, an average of nine pounds was gained by all three groups. The calorie-restricted group did not lose any weight during the weekends while the exercise group racked up even more poundage despite their added movements.
Giving in to a bit of a treat once in a while will not sabotage your weight loss or maintenance. When the treats become a weekend pattern, however, your healthful weekday diet routine could eventually be all for naught.
You do need your gadgets for work these days but oftentimes, people devote more hours on their screens on weekends for entertainment and catching up on other interesting stuff.
Listening to music, podcasts, and videos with headphones or earbuds are usually done at high decibels. The prolonged and repetitive exposure to loud sounds, even only on weekends, can age listening abilities of young ears so much as to match the low hearing capabilities of late middle-aged ears.
Your eyes may have had enough of screen time during work week; but, you may be requiring them to work more during weekends, what with movie marathons like Game of Thrones beckoning. Too much screen staring puts a lot of strain on the eyes. Screens emit blue light which dries eyes out and blurs vision. This light also makes one develop insomnia or restlessness at night as it somehow affects one’s hormones.
Oversleeping or Undersleeping
Many people look to the weekend as the time to get those extra forty winks and more. Snoozing way past your usual wake schedule is a common health error. Not only does this encourage sleeping way past your bedtime, presumably because of gadget binge-ing or weekend partying, but it also disrupts your circadian rhythm which needs to be set up to rights again, come Monday.
On the other hand, some people tend to cram more activities over the weekend to make the most of leisure or errand time so they end up getting less sleep. Weekend sleep deprivation also disrupts one’s circadian rhythm. Over time, such disruptions can cause sleep disorders which can lead to unhealthy repercussions, anywhere from weight gain to immune system deterioration.
Excessive Social Drinking and Social Smoking
A wineglass over dinner won’t hurt; but if you’ve imbibed those cocktails from the start of the afternoon barbeque…tsk, tsk. Add those cigarettes that go oh so well with a drink in hand and you’ve got a lot going for you if you wish to sabotage your carefully managed health endeavours. If cigarettes and alcohol have become part of your weekend rituals, you certainly aren’t on the path to healthy living despite strictly making up for it during the weekdays.
Weekly alcohol binges could lead to weight gain, decrease in your muscle building capabilities, and put undue stress on your liver, among numerous health issues. Light or intermittent smoking, although better than regular heavy smoking, still pose health risks. Social smoking has been linked to cardiovascular disease; cancer of the lungs, oesophagus, stomach, and pancreas; decreased bone density; and cataracts.
Donning the Weekend Warrior Gear
If you delegate strenuous exercise or physical activity only for the weekends, you are bound to set yourself up for some potential injuries. Sudden workouts shock the muscles and skeletal system that have been sedentary most of the week. Placing undue stress on the body is not healthy behaviour.
Spreading out an exercise regimen over the week is the safer and healthier way to go. This way, you can improve your flexibility, strength, and endurance while building muscle recuperation in between workouts.
In an Nutshell
Don’t use bad weekend habits to reward all the hard healthy discipline you have imposed on yourself five days a week. Being healthy is not just a weekday undertaking as work is. Being healthy is a 24/7 endeavour, a lifestyle. But then as you have to live a bit, a little controlled indulgence from time to time (a wee slice of cake; 30 strict minutes of more game time) won’t hurt. Just don’t turn occasional indulgences into weekend perks.