Do bubbles build resilience ?

This week we’re talking about one of my favourite things, self-care.

What is self-care? One of my sources defined self-care as “care provided for you, by you… It’s about identifying your own needs and taking steps to meet them. It is taking the time to do some of the activities that nurture you and treating yourself as kindly as you treat others”. I would suggest that self-care also includes saying no to unnecessary things to conserve emotional and physical energy. Essentially, self-care is being intentional about taking care of yourself. It is not limited to practices that are purely cosmetic, it creates room for you to reflect, decompress, and restore energy.

Today I want to pose the question to you: what would it look like if you took care of yourself, the way you do when you’re sick and purposefully gentle with yourself, all the time?

Why is self-care important? It is important because it is time for you to be intentional about investing in taking care of your-self. My favourite professor once quoted the writer and civil rights activist Audre Lorde in class saying that “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Self-care matters because it helps you to build resilience so that you can work towards achieving goals. It gives you energy to thrive in your everyday life in the same way runners carb up before a big race. I think it’s also important to note that self-care is not for when you are so absolutely burnt out that you collapse for a weekend. Self-care is meant to keep you from the point of extreme burn out (though it is also good to recover from feeling burnt out).

Is self-care just code for being lazy? Nope, nope, nope. Self-care is a critical aspect of taking care of yourself and it is just as important as getting a goodnight’s sleep, exercising and eating well. The thing to remember is that self-care is not indulgence, it is practical. Self-care is also necessary to effectively care for others; it’s not selfish to take care of yourself so you can put your best self out there to serve others or to have a night in so that you can build up energy to love people wholeheartedly. You cannot pour from an empty cup and you won’t have energy to invest into relationships, school, work, or whatever it is that you are passionate about if you’re regularly feeling burnt out.

How can you incorporate self-care into your life? First thing’s first, you are not “too busy” to practice self-care. Many people feel like they don’t have time to treat themselves but what needs to shift is not getting more hours in the day but changing our perspective on what should be prioritized in the hours we have. Being stressed and overwhelmed can take a great toll on people but trying out some self-care activities in your life can help reduce your levels of stress. It’s important to recognize that self-care doesn’t have to be time consuming. You don’t have to go to the gym or take a really long bubble bath – if you’re short on time self-care can be taking 10 minutes to sit down and just breathe, letting yourself take a moment to pause. Self-care can be drinking a cup of tea, or it can be your morning ritual that gets your day started in a calm way. A brilliant professor who first taught me about self-care in an academic setting told our class that building self-care into your routine is important because if it’s not something that you commonly practice then it will be the first thing to be forgotten when you are in times of stress. This clearly is not ideal because those are arguably the times you need it the most.

I like being organized and writing a weekly to-do list but this year I was introduced to the idea that lists can make you feel pressure to constantly be achieving goals. Continually adding chores means we feel that we can’t take breaks and celebrate our accomplishments because there are always more things to do. I dealt with this by making lists that not only included school or work assignments but also lists that prioritize self-care, spending time with friends and doing things to ensure I maintain a balanced lifestyle when life get busy. It is a great way to remind yourself that self-care is productive in its own way, and it’s pretty great to cross “have a dance party” off your weekly to do list.

The cool thing about self-care is that it can be whatever you want it to be, it is what makes you happy. A few examples of self-care activities you can try out include:

  • Putting healthy food into your body
  • Sitting outside and enjoying nature
  • Practicing breathing exercises
  • Making sure you are getting enough sleep
  • Having a warm bubble bath or shower
  • Listening to music you enjoy
  • Spending time alone to recharge or spending time with people that bring you joy
  • Trying out a new exercise or yoga class
  • Buying yourself to a treat (a latte, a new book, essential oils, etc.)
  • A cup of tea
  • Going for a run to clear your head
  • Making art

If the things on this list don’t nurture you or jump out at you as activities that would make you feel happy, they might not be your choice of self-care – but I would encourage you to find an activity you do enjoy to practice this week. If you don’t know what you want to do, think of the phrase “the key to your heart” – if someone wanted to find the way to your heart, what would they do? Would they buy you chocolate? Flowers? Take you to a movie? Give you really good bowl of pasta to eat? Invite you to go out to walk in nature? Whatever it is – try starting with that! Find the key to your own heart and use it.

Resilience is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness” or “the ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity” and I believe self-care enables you to do more effectively. Everyone is unique and that means that we all have different interests and styles of taking care of ourselves but for myself, I would say yes, bubbles do build resilience.

 

P.S. If you’ve never eaten ice cream straight from the tub while in a bath tub I would highly recommend you try it out.

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Cultivating Goodness

Lately I have felt that the season of life I am in is focused on cultivating goodness. What I mean by that is that I am intentional about surrounding myself with things that bring me joy and I am conscious of recognizing and being thankful for the abundant blessings in my life. I like the word “cultivating” because it represents doing something actively to nurture or help something grow. It represents intentional actions to plant things into my life that will make it blossom.

The book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up talks about this concept in the context of cleaning your house, you pick up items and ask “does this bring me joy?” and unless the answer is yes, or it is a necessary item, you get rid of it. I’ve been trying to apply that idea to my life by filling my days with things that bring me joy: investing in people who make me feel good, volunteering my time for projects that stimulate my creativity, buying WAY too many plants to live on my window sill, and thrift shopping a lot because its the cheapest form of retail therapy. It’s also helpful to remind myself that when things don’t go as I planned, that doesn’t necessarily mean that things are going wrong. It is easy to have days that make you feel defeated or lose your optimism but it’s important to believe that in the grand scheme of things, life is good; to paraphrase Daniel 3:18, “And if not, He is still good.”

For myself, gratitude is a major part of ‘cultivating goodness’, because as nice as it is to buy lots of cute succulents and interesting books and go for coffee dates with friends  – that isn’t going to make your life good. Your life is already good. To quote the epic 1993 film Cool Runnings “a gold medal is a wonderful thing. But if you’re not enough without one, you’ll never be enough with one.” I think the same concept applies to filling your life with good things; life is already full of so much goodness, and you have to be able to recognize and appreciate what you already have – or else the things you add to your life with will soon be forgotten. If you don’t trust me, in her TED Talk, The Price of Invulnerability , Dr. Brené Brown says, to that live a remarkable life we must “practice gratitude and honour what is ordinary about our lives because that is what is truly extraordinary”.

When I’m having a bad day or I’m not feeling like myself, I find it helpful to catalogue all the things that bring me joy. It’s a reminder that the good always outweigh the bad in life, and it gives me a fresh perspective on staying positive. I have a running list in the Notes app on my phone of things that make me happy, and whenever I notice something new, I add it to the list. I always start with the people who fill my life to the brim with love and work outward to the little things I am thankful for. The list I have is long enough for multiple blog posts of its own, but some examples are:

  • Sitting on park benches reading books and soaking up sunshine
  • Drinking vanilla ice coffee
  • High waisted jeans
  • The smell of cilantro
  • Friends that make me laugh
  • The privilege to have free time to volunteer for things I care about
  • Making dinner with my mom
  • Bright pink manicures
  • Reading books that comfort me, give me hope, and inspire me to think differently
  • Forests of Forget-Me-Nots
  • The smell of lilacs blooming
  • The taste of lime
  • The colour cadmium yellow
  • Birds singing
  • Sunsets
  • Singing in my car with friends
  • Singing badly in my car alone
  • Drinking tea in bed
  • Coral lipstick
  • Bubble baths
  • Hearing songs in public that remind you of old memories and make you smile from ear to ear
  • Dance parties
  • Scones
  • Watercolour painting
  • Cozy rainy days
  • Camp fires on the beach

As the landscape of my life changes I’ve begun to realize the importance of having faith that things are going to work out the way they should and recognizing that every day doesn’t need to be the happiest day, for it to still be saturated in goodness.

I know that I am writing from a very fortunate place; I am lucky to have a beautiful life and a lot of wonderful things going for me, I have an amazing family and lovely friends and I just graduated from university. But trust me, 2017 has handed me a lot of tough days and the best way I’ve learned to manage them is by remembering that the good always outweighs the bad. Even on my worst day, I know that there are things to be thankful for.

This week I encourage you to try making your own list of things that bring you joy and be intentional to notice the little things that make you happy, because when you add them all up you’ll see even more clearly how good life is.

With a Grain of Salt

Happy Wednesday and welcome to my first post!

Writing this blog feels like its been a long time coming. I got the idea last fall that I should start one when I finished school to keep up writing and explore a new creative avenue to reflect on topics that I’m passionate about. So, eight months later, here we are.

It was hard to settle on a title but, A Heart of Glass is what I landed on. In the song War of My Life, John Mayer sings “I’ve got a hammer/  And a heart of glass/ I got to know right now/ Which walls to smash”, which I love and it relates well to what I hope to explore on this blog. I’ll be writing broadly about navigating life, embracing vulnerability, loving people well, taking care of yourself (yay practicing self-care!!) – and a concept I like to refer to as “congruent wellness”. Congruent Wellness is the idea that a holistic approach to health requires a harmonious balance between mental, physical, emotional, spiritual and relational wellness. Being truly healthy stems from taking care of all aspects of wellness in one’s life.

I love to love people, I once told a friend over coffee that when I grew up I just wanted to write people notes of encouragement and bake people cookies. In my life post-graduation I’m exploring what’s next, and what I know for sure is I want to make the world a brighter place and the best way I know how to do that is making sure I’m taking care of myself so that I can support others wholeheartedly. Being able to welcome vulnerability, build community and explore ideas in a world built of stumbling blocks can be challenging but I hope you’ll join me on this adventure.

Finally, I’ll just throw it out there that I’m no expert. I’ll be exploring a range of topics but I have a BA (in Speech Communication and Peace & Conflict Studies) not a PhD so please, take what I’m saying with a grain of salt. I’m planning on posting links to research if I state any hard facts – but my goal here is to stir new ideas, encourage you to think about how best you can take care of yourself and empower you to fiercely love the world around you.

My goal for the month of April was to learn the rap from Calvin Harris’ song Slide, and I didn’t fully achieve that goal. My goal for the month of May was to actually start this blog, I’m hoping it’s a bit more successful.