2020 has been, so far, a year of reckoning. From the Australian bush fires, the COVID-19 global pandemic, to the escalating police brutality against African Americans and the subsequent protests and altercations, we are forced to take a good look at ourselves, how we live our lives and the changes we need to make happen. For our Earth, our health and our families and communities.
In the midst of it all, it’s us. Our hearts. Our souls. Our mental and physical well being. More than ever, we need to carve time and take care of ourselves. If our well is depleted, there is no more to give to others and those in need. No matter where you are and what is available to you, I urge you to use everything sustainable and healthy, to steal any moment that you can, and allow yourself some time for self-love.
Here are some practices that I find we don’t often talk about:
1. Putting it all down on paper
I have spoken about the benefits of journaling before but the concept of “morning pages” was introduced to me by Julia Cameron through her book, “The Artist’s Way, a guided practice aimed at unblocking, understanding and sustaining creative practices in all artists.
“Morning pages“, in a nutshell, is the first thing you do in the morning. Before picking up your phone, making breakfast or interacting with your family. You pick a pen and paper/notebook, and you write. At least 3 pages, continuously, no judgment or stopping to edit and correct. It is a place of spilling your guts, your fears, your dreams (literal and nocturnal), and generally a place to plan, reflect, whine and allow yourself a judgment-free zone. Although they are considered an important tool in an artist’s life, regardless of their medium, I find it powerful enough to be used with anybody. This is the place to rant without censorship. For this reason, it is recommended to set your alarm 15 to 30 minutes earlier to allow space for this practice. Writing is healing and provides understanding in motion. It also offers, at times, the only place where we can truly be ourselves.
If morning pages may not work for you, then simply journaling throughout the day, any time is available to you, is incredibly beneficial as well, and I hope that you will consider this practice even though you may have never tried it before.
2. Looking at something green
The restorative power of nature is truly unparalleled. And we have countless research to back this up. If a walk in nature, or a park, is not (always) available to you, make sure to at least have something in the color green, and preferably alive, next to you to look at. It could be something on your desk, in the middle of your table or in your room. Resting your eyes between work sessions on a plant, a tree (if possible) or a flower, or even something green (the color itself is associated with rest and rejuvenation), whilst taking a few deep breaths, can reduce the feelings of stress, anxiety and overwhelm, giving us a much needed respite from the daily grind.
3. Expanding your palate/taste
Summertime, for those of us living in the Northern hemisphere at the moment, is the best time to experiment with fresh fruits and vegetables and lots of new dishes. The season gives us an abundance of fresh produce, making it the best time to expand our palate and try new things. Just so you know, it can take up to 10 times (!) to try something before you can truly know if you like it or not. Tastes and palates can be developed and cultivated just as you would anything else.
Keep trying that fruit, that veggie, that herb you are not sure of in many, varied recipes, until you find the one way of cooking it that suits you best. Eating a whole variety of fresh fruits, veggies, grains and nuts means that we are providing our brains and bodies with lots of varied minerals, vitamins, healthy fats and antioxidants, thus boosting our immune system and its capacity to fight infections and diseases. Now that is a true love letter to yourself.
As always and if it is available to you and as much as possible, locally raised and sourced produce and meat will be fresher (it hasn’t been sprayed to survive numerous journeys), more nutritious and generally, will be worth every extra penny spent since it is a direct investment in your health. It also is the most pro-active and preemptive thing we can do to avoid chronic disease and postpone a visit to the Doctor.
Therefore, your local farms, orchards and farmer’s markets will be your best friend. Always.
4. Reading (more) long-form content
I know that in this day and age, scrolling through Instagram and Facebook and reading
That being said, long-form content (1200 words +) has the ability to engage us and our minds in more beneficial ways, long term. There are many, many benefits attributed to reading, which you can learn about here, including more advantages from reading from paper instead of using a device (we retain more info), but perhaps the most underrated and impactful way is that it allows us time to digest, critically think and more deeply understand the topic of our interest. Something that short-form content simply cannot do.
Allowing ourselves plenty of time to read, understand, think and reflect, instead of jumping to conclusions after reading a meme, a click-bait article, an inflammatory news piece or some other such short-form medium, is one of the best ways to show love to ourselves. Because it gives us the power, in time, to be less swayed by trends, by others’ impressions and opinions and become fully and accurately informed on the topic of our choice; we understand that we must do our own research. And that simply cannot happen by solely reading/engaging with short-form content, which, due to its nature, condenses and skims/superficially explores topics.
So, give yourself the gift of reading long-form articles, blog posts and books, at least on the topics that are the most important to you. As you practice and learn to love yourself, your thoughts and beliefs are just as as important as taking a bath, doing a mask, getting a mani/pedi, going for a walk/run and eating a salad.
I hope you’ve find this helpful and if you did, it would mean so much to me if you would share it with others. So thank you for that!
Also, the 5 Minute Journal Giveaway is still going on. So make sure to subscribe, share and comment for a chance to win!
Sending you lots of love and thoughts of healing and peace,
p.s: photo found on pexels.com