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Self-Care for tough times

Self-Care for Tough Times

Originally sent as an email to subscribers entitled “Breathing just a little + calling it a life?”, this post details self-care resources for tough times. 

One of my favorite lines of poetry comes from Mary Oliver’s “Have You Ever Tried to Enter the Long Black Branches”. It goes …

Listen, are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life?

Those are the words I hear when it seems I’ve tumbled off course and lost the road. I had (am having) one of those weeks/months now. It started with a bout of covid. I thought myself lucky that I didn’t have many symptoms and I deluded myself into thinking that I could rainbow-and-unicorns my way back to how I was. Thing is, my body was weak and weary – maybe from the virus, maybe from year after year of emergencies, both personal and collective.

I could have wallowed. In fact, I did wallow for a week. Thoughts kept circling my brain like “how did I get here?” and finally, “are you breathing just a little and calling it a life?”

That thought interrupted the shark of despair circling my brain. I don’t want to be breathing just a little, but after a year of putting out fires, I was sick, and exhausted, and couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

Then, I searched for a book on the library app I never had any intention of reading – “Buy Yourself the F*cking Lilies“. First, I’m deathly allergic to self-help books, and second, I’m actually allergic to lilies. Yet, somehow here I am devouring this book that is redefining trauma for me that’s not all self-righteous, but more practical.

Like, what happened to you really sucked, and it is supremely unfair that you now have to deal with something that wasn’t your fault (maybe for your whole life), but you have the chance to live and not just ‘a little’.

Then, I did something wild. I started doing the things in the book, and not just for one day. Here are the tools that have been helping me:

– Morning Pages: the moment I wake up I write three full pages in my journal, without editing. I just write down whatever comes up and then close my journal. It takes about 20 minutes.

– Guided Meditation: I use Insight Timer for my morning meditation. I’ve been finding Lalah Delia’s “Signaling A New Timeline” particularly inspiring.

– Running: I started running just a mile around my neighborhood to get my blood pumping in the morning and some sunshine on my face. Both exercise and vitamin D have been proven to fight anxiety and depression.

– Yoga: After my quick run, I take about ten to fifteen minutes to settle into my body, breathe, and move through some yoga postures.

Now, someone could look at that list and think “whoa, that’s a lot”, but I’ve found that because I’ve broken down each activity into digestible bites, it’s very doable. I also don’t overthink any of them. Two-weeks-ago-me would’ve added so much pomp and circumstance to each activity it would’ve been exhausting.

 

This me has committed to not overthinking anything. For instance, I don’t have to get out of bed and light forty candles to do my morning pages. I don’t weigh down my mediation by adding affirmations, breathing, and chanting. For the first time ever, I am running without headphones, which means there’s no need to waste time looking for a playlist. During yoga, I don’t search YouTube or Alo for the perfect practice to fix my hips/heart/face. I just move in the way my body needs that day.

 

I’ll admit it’s incredibly frustrating to me that I have to do this every day just to be a human out in the world living, but I’ve tried the opposite and that’s not living at all – it’s barely even breathing.

 

If you’re looking for more resources, I’ve gained a lot of insight from Oprah (queen!) and Dr. Perry on the Jay Shetty Podcast. Dr. Perry speaks about how some seasons of life are just about learning to tread water and I felt that in my bones.

 

I’m also looking forward to reading the following books that I’ve ordered from betterworldbooks:

 

– What Happened to You? Conversations on Trauma, Resilience, and Healing by Dr. Bruce D. Perry and Oprah Winfrey

– The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine Aron

– In An Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness by Peter A. Levine

We are also getting together on Tuesday, July 12th for “Art of the Home Practice” which helps you come up with a morning practice that’s unique to you – whether you’re in a season of growth or treading water. I hope to see you there.

 

As always, if this email has helped you in any way, share it with a friend by using the share buttons below. And respond to me (kristen@wearewildwonder.com) with one thing you’ll be trying this week. I’d love to hear it!

 

In love + wonder,
Kristen

 

featured photo by by Nicole Howell.

Kristen

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