We're onto Episode 4 ("Practicing Self-Care") for my four-years-later review of Season 1 of the podcast.
If there was ever a time for self-care, it would be now – and of course, during the entire damn pandemic.
For many of us living in Toronto, enduring yet another lockdown has brought about more isolation and feelings of frustration. The harshness of winter has left people feeling blue. Everyone is getting sick, including me with what I'm pretty sure was Omicron and then bronchitis.
I'm also in the middle of making a huge transition moving from the farm to the city, which I'm still trying to wrap my head around.
In this state, all I want to do is curl up into a ball on the couch and hibernate.
And so, revisiting this episode on self-care was quite timely. As I return to work mode after being sick for weeks, and search every day for the next place I'm going to live in, I'm reminded that I need to take time out to breathe, settle my nervous system, and get grounded.
In this episode, I shared about a self-care ritual I did after an intense three days of writing a blog post during the #metoo movement surge in October 2018. Writing the post, plus reading all the things being posted on social media at that time, brought up feelings of anger, despair, and sadness that needed releasing.
So after I published the blog post, I did a burning ritual at the farm. Hearing me relive that memory on the episode was quite nostalgic for me. I still love me a good burning ritual – there is something so comforting about fire.
I also shared a list of 10 self-care ideas – all things that still help to boost my mood or calm me when I'm feeling stressed. I'm kind of surprised at myself though that I didn't also include in the list things like doing therapy or just doing nothing at all.
I'd also add now the importance of practicing self-care within community. As I mentioned in the episode, we might want to do our self-care activities on our own, but sometimes we need other people. In that way, "self-care" can be a bit of a misnomer.
Basically, if we just think of it as caring for our mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical health, then we can see that such care can be done in relationship with others, if that's what's called for.
For example, I might ask my partner for a really long hug when I see him after enduring weeks of stress and being sick (this just happened). Physical touch can be so healing when done with someone you feel safe with.
Another powerful experience I had recently was doing a grief ritual with an online community I'm a member of (Rooted Global Village). During this virtual gathering, we did a meditation while a facilitator played her sound bowls and gong. Then we broke out in pairs and shared with each other our experience and wrote on a piece of paper what we wanted to let go of.
Returning to the group, and with the image of a flickering fire on the screen and another facilitator beating a steady rhythm on his hand drum, we were invited to unmute and share what we needed to release. We then burned our pieces of paper.
It was one of the most profound group experiences I've ever had. And it reinforced my belief that we are truly meant to grieve with others.
As for doing "nothing," this has become a frequent go-to self-care practice for me. I tend to be highly productive most days – even if I'm not working, I'm oftentimes creating content, reading, learning, taking a class, etc. – but if my body starts to shut down or get overwhelmed by certain stressors, I will do my best to put everything aside for as long as I need to.
In that mode, I love to curl up on the couch with a throw blanket over me and a hoodie on. I might watch something mindless on Netflix or listen to a podcast.
Of course, I do want to make a note about privilege here. Not just in terms of how much money or resources people might have to engage in self-care practices like getting a massage or taking a vacation (which I'm seriously contemplating – I need a beach!). But also, the reality is that some people don't have the luxury of just putting things on hold whenever life gets too stressful.
I remember back in the day when I was SO burnt out all the time, juggling multiple jobs and full-time school with trying to feed myself and basically live. I had very little support and income during that time.
I know there are tons of people out there who are in that kind of survival mode and barely able to catch a break for themselves. My heart aches for them, because I know how demoralizing it can feel to know you need some rest and care, but not have the ability to easily act on that need.
Maybe for others it's not about that kind of survival mode, but they're going through a particularly intense period of stress in their life as, say, a new parent or when they're grieving a huge loss.
It can be hard to find space for self-care in those moments. I want to acknowledge that sometimes the act of self-care we might need is to simply have compassion for ourselves when practicing self-care seems like just one more thing to add to the to-do list.
How do we navigate these nuances and adapt the ways we might practice self-care as life presents us with its various challenges? How do we still "fight" for our self-care and make it a priority while not expecting it to look "perfect"?
Baby steps, y'all. We got this.
With love, Janice xo
P.S. You can listen to "Practicing Self-Care (S1, EP4 | The Soul's Work Podcast)" on: the website | Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Podcasts | Podchaser | Stitcher | Please subscribe + leave a rating and review to help others find the show! ❤