Self-care is a crucial element of mental health and wellbeing. I believe that it is important to do something that you enjoy, no matter how small, every day. I will be posting little ideas of things that you might do for self-care and relaxation, as well as things I find inspiring.
Disclaimer: The ideas on this blog are not meant to be a substitute for therapy. In fact, a crucial part of self-care is getting treatment when you need it. The ideas on this blog are not prescriptive and may not be helpful to everyone. Use your own discretion when trying something new and ask your physician, if in doubt. I often provide links to external websites that I find interesting. I have no control over the content of websites that are not my own and I take no responsibility for their content.
|Posted on October 23, 2015 at 6:00 PM|
I generally don’t advocate retail therapy, but I am willing to bend a little in this instance. A local organization, Friends of the Tompkins County Public Library, has been having a Fall Book Sale this month and the proceeds benefit public libraries and organizations invested in literacy. It’s an affordable way to cultivate your own personal library and the books greatly decrease in price as we reach the terminus. Collecting antique books is probably one of my biggest indulgences. There is just something about old books that captures me, the dustier and mustier the better. If I immediately succumb to hacking coughs after brushing off the cover, that’s the book for me. There is such a rich history steeped in creased pages and battered bindings. After decades of moving from hand to hand, it’s like the books lived their own lives and took on their own kind of soul. It is amazing to envision everyone who had turned those pages and was moved, who cried, who was swept away by the story. I’ve found loving dedications inscribed on inside covers and random mementos tucked away between gilded pages and then forgotten. Sometimes readers scrawl reactions and comments in the margins, a keyhole glimpse into their minds. There is a beautiful multi-tiered interaction taking place between me and the author, me and the corporeality of the book itself, and between me and all the other people who have held the book in their hands. It’s a way to feel connected to something greater and more enduring than myself. I try to read as much as I can, both fiction and non-fiction. Stretching our minds and imaginations is an important part of self-care and personal growth. I also came across an interesting article that chronicles various studies demonstrating how reading can help people develop empathy and the ability to take other perspectives. So, settle in, blanket cuddled and hot mug of Earl Grey in hand, and let each word pull you deeper into Garamond-built worlds.
These are some of my finds from the Book Sale.
|Posted on September 29, 2015 at 4:00 PM|
On the night of September 27th, there was a Supermoon eclipse (also called a “Super Blood Moon” eclipse). This type of lunar eclipse is rather rare and won’t happen again until 2033 (take a look at NASA’s website for more information).
I was very excited to bear witness to this cosmic event. I parked myself out on my front lawn at 9:00PM, sat back, and reveled in the amazingness. Someone in a nearby house had their window open and they were listening to this epic sounding opera music, which was the perfect accompaniment to watching this event.
It may sound cliché, but I felt a shift in perspective regarding my worries and concerns when I was faced with the vast night sky and the progression of the eclipse. It reminded me of impermanence and how most things will eventually pass, like the moon passing through the earth’s shadow. When fostering self-care, it is important to find things, whatever they may be (i.e., nature, art, music, etc…) that help you take a step back and see a different perspective. It is also important to nurture the ability to be present in the moment. While watching the eclipse, I experienced moments of being present without thinking of the past or future. I shifted my attention to different sensory experiences: the minute changes in what I was seeing in the moon, the feeling of the grass under my hands, the wind on my face, and the sound of the music.
I admit that I did break from being present a few times in order to attempt to capture the moon with my camera. Alas, my camera is not high tech enough to get a clear picture. This (below) was the best I could get. If you want to view some really amazing photos, NASA has a Super Blood Moon Photo Contest page that is a must see.
|Posted on September 21, 2015 at 1:35 PM|
The other day, I was cutting an avocado that was exquisitely perfect in ripeness. The peel came right off in one piece with no effort. If you are familiar with the pain of trying to peel an unripe avocado, you may have a sense of how marvelous this was. I was literally dancing in my kitchen, much to the dismay of my cat, who was watching me warily from behind his food dish. You might be thinking, “Why were you so excited, Emily? It’s just an avocado.” But, it’s not just an avocado. It’s a little moment of happiness that I might have otherwise missed if I had been distracted by worries, my mental “to do” list, or a sad memory. When we feel depressed and anxious, it is strikingly easy to call up memories of negative experiences and to automatically focus on the negative in our daily lives. Positive occurrences may not even register on our radars. Self-care isn’t just about doing positive/pleasant things, it is also about noticing and being aware of the positive. To help build this awareness, proponents of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy often recommend keeping a daily record of pleasant events and the impact those events have on your thoughts and emotions. This can be a small step in becoming more mindful in your daily life and more holistic in your awareness.
|Posted on August 18, 2015 at 8:00 PM|
I don’t know about you but, for me, eating well is one of the first things to lapse when I am stressed. I don’t like to spend a lot of time and money on cooking either, and I’ll admit to resorting to frozen pizzas more than I probably should. I found this amazing blog by Beth Moncel that I wanted to share that has made cooking so much easier for me. I became familiar with Budget Bytes when I was looking for a good cookbook. I wanted something that had a lot of variety, but wouldn’t have me running around to find random ingredients that I would only use once and then never again. I absolutely love the cookbook and my copy is quite dog-eared, somewhat food spattered, and messily annotated. I have quite a few favorite recipes that I keep coming back to. Many of them use similar ingredients so if I buy, say, a bunch of cilantro, I can use it in multiple dishes instead of just using a little for one dish and then not knowing what to do with the rest. I also like that she is mindful of pricing, and her advice helps you to learn how to eat well without spending a fortune. I liked the book so much that I wanted to find out if the author had written anything else, which brought me to her website. You can spend hours on there without getting bored. Her work has taught me so much and has made cooking fun. Take a look and remember that nourishing yourself is part of self-care!
|Posted on August 17, 2015 at 3:50 PM|
Photography has always been an excellent outlet for me. Nature photography is my favorite because I get to be outside immersed in beautiful surroundings which, in of itself, can bring about a sense of peace. I also enjoy the hunt to find something compelling to photograph. I always use the viewfinder on my camera instead of the digital screen because I like the way that the viewfinder narrows my field of vision and focuses me. For those few moments when I am taking a picture, all that’s important is what can be captured and bound within that little square. It crops out anything extraneous, all that extra noise. This can be particularly helpful if you are feeling overwhelmed and scattered by everything going on in your life. Just take your time and focus on the little snapshots of life. I took this picture while walking around my favorite pond in New Hampshire.