30 Ways To Self-Care When Life Has Kicked You In The Proverbial Nuts

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Self- care is about self-worth. I want you to remind yourself that you are the one who held yourself through that time your heart was broken into 1000 pieces, and yet you still turned up for work. You were the one who stood up and faced the music when others could not. You are the one who dragged yourself to the shower of the morning of the funeral, the wedding, the day they died and then got other people cups of tea. You, who went to work, who fed others, who got into bed to lie sleepless in the dark. You who fed the cat and wondered if you might kill yourself today or tomorrow. You who turned up for others over and over again. Today is the day you turn up for yourself. If you can do all of that, you can do some of these to recharge your soul.

  1. Ask for help. Mental health, cleaning, shopping, physical health. There is someone to help.

  2. Clean your space. Maybe it is just the coffee table but that is better than nothing. Start there.

  3. Eat for nutrition today. Not calories. Ask your body what it is craving. Whatever it needs is what your body is lacking.

  4. Have a shower or a bath.

  5. Schedule in tasks for the week ahead. Put them on your phone as reminders also.

  6. Play with an animal. If you don’t have one, go to the dog park and one will come up and say Hi to you.

  7. Read a poem. This one works.

  8. Make a playlist of upbeat tunes that make you sing and even better, dance.

  9. Burn a candle. Scented or not. Either way, it’s the lighting of intention of your new self-care.

  10. Get a massage if you can. Even a back and neck from the mall shop helps. Sometimes loneliness gnaws at our soul, and we are skin hungry for touch.

  11. Potter with plants. Potted or in the ground. Either works. Prune, feed, water, tidy.

  12. Go somewhere busy and sit with a coffee and watch life around you. Witness the Sonder. *“Sonder” is the profound, individual realisation that each person you meet is living their own life, that each person has their own world fitted with their own personal worries, pains, pleasures, ambitions, routines. It is not an official word but it is a lovely descriptor and can remind you that everyone is doing going through ‘stuff.’

  13. Drink calming tea. I like black tea but some people recommend chamomile and peppermint tea.

  14. Go to the water. Watch the waves, watch the boats, watch the sun glinting on the water, swim, drift, float. There are two types of mental attention in life. One is “directed", which is when we are focussed on a task such as driving a car, or walking on a busy footpath. They other type is “involuntary” which is when we we are in an environment outside our ordinary habitat, with enough familiarity that it poses no threat but enough interest to keep the brain engaged". It is this state of "drift" that water encourages. We've all felt it. Staring at the sea, like one of Melville's hypnotised "water gazers", everything seems static, yet gently changing. Instead of the stress of addressing electronic data or dealing with the millions of different images we see every day, we're presented with a view where change is subtle and slow – a sailboat, a seagull, the incoming tide. "Drifting takes us into the default-mode network: the network that's active unless we are paying attention to something. In other words, it's basically 'online' until we call on other areas of attention. And the default-mode network devours huge amounts of glucose and a disproportionate amount of oxygen." 

  15. Buy an indoor plant or two. They create wellbeing and they improve air quality.

  16. Reread your favourite childhood book.

  17. Cook something that takes time. Each step is a meditation. Each step is more flavour and wellness.

  18. Make a meal plan for the week so you know you will be nourished.

  19. Clean out your workbag or handbag.

  20. Plan your day for tomorrow.

  21. Tell someone how much you appreciate them and love them.

  22. Write your priorities for the week and schedule them.

  23. Reframe your mistakes and see what you learned from them.

  24. Turn off your phone for the day and unplug from the network for as long as you need.

  25. Put away those things that annoy you every time you walk past them. They are eye irritants.

  26. Make a list of things you would like to do one day - travel to Iceland, learn French, see the Kremlin

  27. Make a list of things to do now - put away washing, sweep the floor, open the mail.

  28. Write a letter to yourself with everything you have learned so far in life, and what you would tell your younger self.

  29. Clean up your inbox and run a computer clean on your machine.

  30. Ask someone who makes you feel energised and inspired to lunch or dinner.

Be kind to yourself, use inner dialogue like you would talk to a cherished friend, and above all, laugh, often and always. Because the one thing I can tell you about life is, it goes on.


In Praise Of Pottering

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There is a Serbian word, that translated to the feeling of contentment and bliss, that delicious sense of oneness with the universe when performing simple pleasures. Those small moments that add up to a fulfilled life. A contented life. I wondered if this is pottering, the Serbian way.One of my main skills in life is pottering. There is an art to high-level pottering and of this, I am a master.

The first rule for sterling pottering is to not have any particular goal in mind. Do not try and finish anything. If the act of pottering results in something being finished, such as the dishes, or planting spring herbs then so be it. It is neither good or bad. It just the outcome of that moment.

Do not set out with a goal. I repeat, no goals today my pottering pal. Just be. Maybe you are looking for a book and end up sorting out the poets from the playwrights. Or you sit on the floor, in front of the bookshelf and read the first three chapters of Love in a Cold Climate because you forgot how much you loved that book.

Stop looking at the time. Time will slow when you’re pottering, so savor the extra minutes and take care with your task. If you want to carefully wipe down the leaves of your Fiddle Fig, then take all the time you need. The Fiddle Fig will enjoy the attention and company.

You are allowed to be distracted. Have three things happening at once. A book open, a recipe you’d like to attempt open on your computer, a sewing project half done with no expectations of when it will be finished. There is no start or end when pottering.

Pick lemons, arrange them in the sweet bowl from the op-shop. Stroke the cat on the neighbor’s fence. Let the tea steep for an extra minute. You have time.

Tidy the car while listening to a podcast, wax the surfboard while humming a tune, pat your dog while sitting in the sunshine. Watch the coriander seeds sprout in the little plastic pot you picked up from the side of the road.

Wipe down a surface but only one. To do more than one is considered cleaning and right now we are pottering. It is about seeing and responding to the moment. Being in the moment and enjoying it.

I love cleaning my desk, with no intention to work there that day. Just wiping it down, rearranging my things, it’s meditative.

I move from moment to moment, doing what I want and what jumps out at me. But not too much because then it’s work and I have enough of that during the week.

Potter or putter or dawdle or tinker to your soul’s content. There is time enough to reach the goals and clean the house and tick things off the list, but for now, relax and feel the merak.