She had come here to get away from it all. She stared blankly at the stark white paper resting against the smooth wooden desk. Her fingers felt sore from twirling a red coated writing pencil in her hand. She clenched her fist around it in frustration, wondering how much pressure she could exert without breaking it. Yet, somehow she could have so easily snapped it through the force of her pent up emotions.
It was a grey day. The ocean stretched for miles and miles. Before her was a long rectangular window, opening out to the beach, the sea and a salty horizon. An old fisherman stood at the waters edge tending to his nets. His dog ran playfully around him this way and that, on the beach, having no regard for any opinion under the sun.
Gulls cackled in the distance. She put her pencil down and stared. In her corner of the sky, framed by the window, a golden thread of sunshine wove its way through the clouds.
She was away from it all. Far from everything that she needed time and space from to sort out. And yet the volume of her thoughts in this peaceful, cosy wooden cabin furnished with old books, patchwork blankets, and mismatched crockery, would not allow her to rest.
There were answers there that she knew she needed to find. Answers beyond the old library of books. Answers beyond the horizon and beyond every mirage of this world.
There was no noise in here except from the ticking of an old timepiece on the mantel. She could not shake her thoughts, nor quieten them. And so she opened the door and looked down the slope that led steeply to the beach, feeling the air fresh and cold upon her face. She was set on high, but not too far from the life that surrounded her, and she knew that what she needed was waiting, patiently waiting, behind her wanderings, just momently out of sight. She had come away from it all to be quiet, to be still. But the volume of her heart and of her mind told her in more than a whisper that her future, her quiet horizon, was waiting for her…..was with him. (c).
I took this picture of beautiful cherry blossoms a couple of months ago in a nearby park, just as spring was beginning to make an appearance. There is something so gentle and hopeful about cherry blossoms, and even when they fall they fall like confetti in an innocent celebration. You will find imagery of cherry blossoms woven throughout my blog posts, including in my creative writing. I find cherry blossom trees symbolic of something special to me, as when I was little we had a big cherry blossom tree in our back garden of the first childhood home I have any real memory of. I hope these beautiful sweet flowers bring you joy today. 🙂 x
Hi Friends, I hope you are well today. However, even if you’re not doing too well, part 3 of the simple step-by-step self care series is very much for you. (Parts 1 and 2 can be found here: https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/simple-step-by-step-self-care-series-simple-self-care-challenge-1/ and here: https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2017/06/10/simple-self-care-challenge-2/). Take it at your own pace, and revisit the previous ‘challenges’ as often […]
I hope you are well today. However, even if you’re not doing too well, part 3 of the simple step-by-step self care series is very much for you.
(Parts 1 and 2 can be found here: https://livingfully2017.wordpress.com/2017/06/09/simple-step-by-step-self-care-series-simple-self-care-challenge-1/
Take it at your own pace, and revisit the previous ‘challenges’ as often as you like, just do what works best for you.
What is a Self-Care Toolkit and why do I need one?
Today, as you will have gathered from the title, I’m going to be talking about your ‘Self-Care Toolkit’. So, a good place to start is to discuss what a self-care toolkit is.
Like everyone, I’m sure you have your ups and downs. Some days are very good days, and others, not so much. However, some of us who suffer from and struggle with longer term health challenges such as depression, anxiety, PTSD…..the list goes on and on! the bad days can be very difficult indeed! To limit things from getting so bad that they become overwhelming and we feel that we can’t cope, we need a strategy. Even if you don’t feel that you struggle with these more severe conditions, it is still important that you are aware of how best to take care of yourself.
I find that it is usually when we are having slightly better days that it is a good time to plan ahead for the days when we will struggle. One way of doing this is to have a ‘toolkit’ for your self-care and wellbeing. The ‘toolkit’ isn’t so much a physical thing as it is a bunch of ideas for you to keep at hand so that when you are struggling you know what your ‘go to’ helpful things will be. However, you can also keep a toolkit of physical things too.
So, what goes in the toolkit?
Just as we all have different learning styles, we will also have different approaches to putting together our self-care toolkits. I’ll share some of my ideas of what works for me to give you a starting point from which to develop your own.
I personally find that I can make sense of things better with lists and categories. Therefore, I will group ideas into the following two categories:
- Emotional and psychological self-care
- Physical self-care
Emotional and Psychological Self-Care
Depending on your general wellbeing you may wish to incorporate some of the following ideas into your self-care toolkit:
- Contacts – trusted people whom you can reach out to. These might be close friends or family members, support workers, a psychologist, or even helplines that you can contact. Your resource list of contacts from organisations will depend on where in the world you live, so if you think it will be helpful to you take some time to do a little bit of research online, ask people you know or as health professionals. Make a note of contacts in your self-care journal that you started in week 1.
- Distractions – can be greatly beneficial when we find ourselves struggling or slipping into a negative mood or unhelpful thought patterns. They bring you back into the present, out of your head, and provide enjoyment and relief that can tide over your ‘bad spell’. Some of the distractions that I like to absorb myself in include: adult colouring in books (there is a plethora to choose from!), art and craft hobbies, writing, photography, music, watching a comedy, doodling, planning ahead in my diary to keep focussed on the future and planning in positive things to look forward to no matter how small they might be, reading, meeting with a friend, going outside, etc. Have a think of what your healthy distractions could be and write them down in your self-care journal 🙂
Physical self-care is equally as important as emotional self-care and you will find that a lot of aspects of both overlap with each other. Here are some starting points to consider:
- Is there anything you need to intentionally avoid in order to stay safe during difficult times? If so, have a contingency plan and where possible make sure you have a couple of trusted people that you can be accountable with.
- Plan ahead with healthy meal ideas. Nutrition is so important for both physical and mental wellbeing. If you take some time out to write down some healthy meal ideas, then when you feel stuck and unable to think of what to eat (and equally what not to eat), then you will have something written down to refer to. But don’t forget you are allowed to treat yourself every now and then aswell.
- Drink plenty of water and make healthy snacks a part of your every day routine.
- Make a note of any medications you require to take should you be likely to forget.
- Get fresh air and exercise, and where possible spend time in the beauty of nature.
- Have a bubble bath.
- Do some self-pampering at home such as making your own ‘foot spa’.
- Get the right amount of sleep.
- Practice deep breathing and relaxation.
You may also find it comforting to have a little box of ‘goodies’ of special objects or things that make you feel calm to keep at hand for times when you need that extra boost, or that just make you happier even if you already feel alright.
So, have a think about these suggestions as a starting point, and remember to make them your own. Do what works best for you, and make a note of them in your self-care journal, and I will see you soon for the next ‘challenge’.
In the meantime, stay well.
Much love, x.
When I first met Jane:
Jane Eyre first clambered and thumped wildly against the doors of my heart when I was around 13 or 14 years old. From the moment the bedraggled orphan was cruelly banished to ‘The Red Room’ in Gateshead, the house of her callous Aunt Reed, I felt a deep affinity with this little fettered, mocked and misunderstood bird. The Red Room was Jane’s punishment for no longer being able to endure the bullying of her cousin, Mrs Reed’s son, John. The tethered bird struggled against the injustice of bullying only to find herself subject to an even further injustice with her punishment administered by Mrs Reed being solitary confinement within the foreboding Red Room, the very room in which her late Uncle Reed had died.
My choice of summer reading was an ambitious one for my age. However, it took me into Jane’s world which resonated so deeply with feelings of injustice from bullying from my own world, caged yet impassioned pitiful bird tormented by fear that I also was, and continued to resonate with me deep into adult life. I fell in love with the misfit Jane Eyre, with Charlotte Bronte, and with these kindred spirits I shared that passionate desire to break free from my own fetters and those cruelly placed upon me. I revisited Bronte’s novel a couple of times during my undergraduate University years as a student of English Literature. The passion for higher, immortal things that drove Jane’s soul further than the confines of her unimpressive frame was a fire to my own passionate desire to discover my place and meaning in life, in a hunger for something beyond the temporal and disappointing realm of a world that would seek to confine me too.
Years have passed, and I realise that I have not revisited my dear friend Jane in The Red Room, nor at the abode of Sinjin (St John) and his sisters Diana and Mary Rivers, nor at Thornfield, the home of Jane’s ‘Mr Rochester’.
Therefore, when the opportunity arose to see ‘my’ Jane again, I could not resist. However, this time, I would see Jane through fresh eyes, and through someone else’s interpretation of her life, and in the form of a theatre play. Yes, today was that day that I met with Jane, none other than Jane Eyre herself, again. I went to the theatre alone for this encounter and shared the experience with hundreds of strangers. I had suggested that my father, also an ardent reader of literature, accompany me, however, he declined the offer not wanting to ‘spoil’ his own treasured experience of Charlotte Bronte’s novel.
I can understand that feeling. For book lovers I’m sure there is always that tension when an adaptation, be it in the form of a film, theatre or radio play or production comes out. There is sometimes a sense of disloyalty to one’s ‘first true love’ of the book itself. A betrayal of the author? And yet, I find that when done well, adaptations can greatly enhance one’s experience of and love for a well treasured book.
I must say, seeing the National Theatre’s performance of Jane Eyre was not a disappointment for me. Far from it.
Revisiting Jane….to be continued….
A sweet and ‘chirpy’ robin enjoying a beautiful garden full of flowers! 🙂