Self-care

I’ve been having a tough few weeks (but I’m seeing the light at the end of the tunnel now, thanks) and it’s got me thinking about self-care.

We all have particular ways of looking after ourselves, and dealing with adversity.  Some of those behaviours are positive ones.  Others, while providing temporary relief, can potentially be self-destructive if we’re not careful.  I’m looking at you, retail therapy, comfort eating and wine.

For me, as one of life’s introverts (albeit one of those confident, outgoing introverts) if things are proving difficult I need even more time to recharge.  I love my wonderful friends.  They can be fantastically supportive and  spending time with them definitely helps.  But if I’m feeling a bit ground down by a situation I’ll probably want to keep my head down and keep myself to myself even more than usual.  I can practically become a hermit, struggling to muster up the energy to even reply to emails.

But there’s another big aspect of self-care for me: doing creative things and being surrounded by creative people.  I’ve written before about all the evidence about the impact of creative pursuits on people’s wellbeing, but for me, they are the thing I will immediately reach for in reaction to a tough period.

Some examples of things that have helped me get through difficult times:

  • Art and colour.  I remember when I was dealing with some family health issues and had just finished a particularly challenging project at work I went to see the Roy Lichtenstein exhibition at the Tate Modern.  There’s something wonderfully peaceful and restorative about an art exhibition, even if it’s rammed with people.  I think I’m wired to respond to colour somehow – even a visit to a yarn shop to bathe in the colour and texture is incredibly soothing.
  • Making things.  I will instinctively reach for the tools to make something.  And not just knitting.  I had a particularly horrible day at work once – I’d been blamed for getting something wrong by someone who didn’t have the courage to admit they’d changed their mind about what they wanted.  So rather than wallow in self-pity, I went home and made a cake.
  • Story.  I have a pretty voracious appetite for story.  And there’s nothing like immersing myself in a narrative of some kind to help me forget my troubles, whether it’s a book (you might have noticed that I read a lot of books), film/tv or audio drama.   Talking about story helps too:  I love the book club that I go to, and going to book-related events.

What helps to keep you resilient?

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