I have been spending a lot of time these last few weeks finding things – websites, social media accounts, books, podcasts, zines, music and anything else I can think of – that make me feel good. Now more than ever, we need to be taking care of ourselves, taking care of our communities and finding joy wherever we can. So I wanted to share with you some of the things that are helping me through.
Self Practice is a global community and research platform which explores the intersect of wellbeing and design. Their website is a beautiful and calming place to browse and offers a range of articles, interviews and tools centred on creative and personal inquiry. There’s lots of lovely stuff here to help pass the time (I recommend following their Instagram account too) but there are a few of their recent posts that I’ve found particularly useful.
PROMPTS FOR YOU TO SIT WITH — these questions provide a lovely framework for reflection and creating a mindful moment in the day. They provide the opportunity to recognise both the positive and the challenging in the current situation and encourage a focus on self- and community-care.
1. How have you supported yourself today ?
2. How have you supported those you love today ?
3. What’s challenging you most ?
4. What makes you feel hopeful ?
SIMPLE BODY MAPPING / BREATH WORK PRACTICE — this guided practice is excellent for releasing tension and bringing awareness to your body. Particularly good if you are working from home and your work set-up isn’t especially ergonomic! (Dining room chairs are great for dinner, no so great for seven hours a day of sitting…)
1. Lie or sit down wherever is comfortable for you.
2. Softly close your eyes.
3. Place your hands over your belly.
4. Let go of any judgement that immediately comes to the forefront.
5. Take a large inhale.
6. Hold your breath. Imagine your breath reaching every corner of the inside of your physical body.
7. Exhale slowly. Visualising the breath slowly moving out of your belly button, little by little.
8. Repeat your inhale and visualise every corner being filled up again before you exhale.
9. Repeat once more, watch and feel your whole body fill up with rejuvenating breath before letting it all slowly go.
10. On your next inhale, send the breath to a specific area of your body that needs it most.
11. Keep its healing properties swirling there for as long as you can keep your inhale.
12. On your exhale visualise all the pain, tension, discomfort oozing out of that area.
13. Repeat as many times as you need to.
QUESTIONS YOU CAN ASK EACH OTHER — much like the questions above focused on self, these questions provide a helpful framework for checking in with others. Sometimes it can be difficult to know what to say but the phrasing of these questions allow a gentle approach to finding out how someone really is.
1. How are you holding up?
2. What’s been the hardest part for you in all this?
3. How can I best support you today?
4. Whats helping you sit with your emotions?
5. Would you be up to FaceTime later?
6. I’ll check in again tomorrow if that’s ok?
This beautiful digital zine by Simone van der Walt has a whole host of thought-provoking articles, gorgeous artwork and reading recommendations. The theme for issue 1 – Daydreaming – feels particularly resonant at this time. Simone’s first article, The Lost Art of Doing Nothing, is a lovely, gentle reminder that this time we are living through is not a productivity contest, and that taking the time to do nothing can actually be good for us. The whole thing it thoughtfully put together and holds many gems of wisdom.
I love listening to podcasts on my daily dog walk or whilst I’m cooking or cleaning. I have a whole host of go-tos that I rotate depending on my mood. My most recent discovery – and one that has helped me find moments of calm and quiet during my day – is Poetry Unbound from On Being. Hosted by Pádraig Ó Tuama, each episode is around 10 minutes long and consists of a poetry reading followed Ó Tuama’s reflections on the poem, closing with a second reading. They are short, beautiful pieces and I could listen to Ó Tuama’s soothing voice for days.
I’ve only ever been an occasional practitioner of yoga. I’ve only ever used YouTube videos or apps for guidance. I’ve also only ever engaged with it as a form of exercise. I started dipping back into it this week as a different way to move my body, as the current state of isolation/lock-down has restricted the amount and type of physical activity I can do and I was finding myself feeling stiff and lethargic. I found some really great routines on Yoga With Adriene’s YouTube channel – specifically this one for back pain and this one as a quick 5 minute morning routine – but, as I practised along I wasn’t feeling quite satisfied with just doing the routines and I was also finding the pace wasn’t quite right for me. I wanted to learn more about the philosophy behind yoga as well and to find a way to practice at my own pace without having to pause/rewind/ignore a video! So, of course, I started looking round for a good book on the subject.
Yoga: A Manual For Life stood out amongst the many books I browsed online – not gonna lie, the gorgeous cover was a big factor in my clicking through to find out more. As I looked into what the book examined, though, I found that the content appealed to me as much as the beautiful presentation. So I treated myself. And I am so glad I did. I’ve been using it for just a few days but I have come to my mat with excitement every day and have enjoyed a more restorative and fulfilling yoga practice than I ever have before. I’m still only at the toe dipping point but, for the first time, I’m genuinely looking forward to exploring what yoga might have to offer me, not just as a physical practice but as a mindful path and a way to deeper self-compassion. The book offers an extensive guide to poses, a number of picture-led sequences with specific targets in mind: to combat stress and fatigue, to ground, to uplift, to inspire creativity and to sleep better, as well as a selection of thought-provoking essays on yoga’s relationship with different aspects of life, such as discipline, self-care, and difficulty. It’s super accessible, a beautiful reading experience and very realistic, with a comforting lack of focus on goal oriented practice and a regular challenge to ideas of perfection. I wholly recommend this book to anyone looking to explore yoga.
Whilst this certainly isn’t the case for everyone, many people are suddenly finding themselves with a lot of time on their hands and not much to fill it with. Now, I first want to stress that it is absolutely, 100% fine to not fill that time with anything other than breathing/napping/binging movies on Netflix. This period of time is NOT a productivity contest. Do whatever feels right to deal with this very weird situation, whether what feels right is to be doing something or doing nothing will depend entirely on you, your personal circumstances and how you feel. You do you.
I do know, however, that some people get antsy when they don’t have something to do – I sometimes find it make me more anxious if I don’t have something to keep my brain busy. So, with those people in mind, I’d like to introduce you to one of my new favourite websites: bored.solutions. This colourful site is full off challenges and activities to keep you occupied, everything from reading the entire works of Shakespeare or listening to the entire works of Mozart, to learning the basics of sign language, perfecting a ‘Michelin’ recipe or learning how to take better photos. There’s something for every kind of interest and challenges range from things you can do in a day to ones lasting a whole month or longer. Endless entertainment for all the family.
So there you have it, some of my ‘let’s-get-through-this-madness’ favourites. What have you been doing (or not doing!) to keep occupied and/or take care of yourself?