how to be: what helped when nothing helps. (part two)

Part two of this post. Again, it’s not a checklist, but a list of offerings. Funnily enough, I wrote 95% of this post when I wrote part one. And yet it took over two months to come back and finish it. I was jolted to action after sharing some tips with a good friend (hi) and remembered I had written this whole thing. It’s good to share.

Self-care 102 – cozy self-care. Soft cozy blankets. Nice smelling candles. Incense sticks. Hand cream. Face masks. New socks. A cute toy. Some nice tea. The fancy cookies. Any small nice thing. Treat yourself or allow others to treat you. I have been very lucky and received a lot of thoughtful care packages over the last 2 years. And I haven’t hesitated to buy myself a fancy candle here and there. Now is the time.

Mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness and grounding yourself in the present moment can be really helpful. It’s hard because it doesn’t necessarily give an immediate payoff, but doing a little bit when I can has definitely helped me. I try and remind myself at various points throughout the day, particularly in moments of panic or overwhelm, but also in calm too. Finding stillness. Putting one hand on my belly and the other across my heart. Feeling the chair underneath my butt. Placing my hands on my thighs. Sipping something slowly and with intention. Feeling each step as I walk. Noticing the breath. Being in my body and becoming aware of sensations: temperatures, pressure, heaviness, tightness, numbness. Allowing whatever emotion I’ve been holding onto or resisting just to be. Feeling my feelings even though our culture deems them “negative” is the ultimate act of rebellion.  Noticing it. Naming it. Allowing it all to be.

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how to be: what helped when nothing helps

The past few months I was starting to feel the ground beneath my feet again. It felt nice.

And now I’m facing down another setback and have been feeling defeated and disorientated. I’ve noticed I’ve been reaching into my grief survival toolkit, searching for any small thing to help me feel grounded and resist overwhelm.

So I wanted to share them with you. On the caveat that it’s not used as a to do list, if you’re suffering you don’t need more things you feel you’re failing at, instead think of it as an offering of possibilities. I squirrelled these away nut by nut. Do NUT attempt to eat them all in one go! (Wee bit o’ nut humour for you.)  

Some of these helped me in the earlier days and some came months or over a year later so not all will be applicable at any one time. My needs and capabilities changed as I moved through my grief. And it’s not linear, I still regularly need to remind myself about the basics. Being kind to yourself and is the number one thing to do, and perhaps the last thing you want to do. And here are some things that helped me do that, when not much seemed to help at all.

Self Care 101 – Basic needs. Caring for yourself can seem pointless, but do it anyway, if not for you, for those around you. Start with your basic needs. Figuring out what you need is hard and energy consuming. So start small. Drink a glass of water, or if that’s too much, have one sip. Take a shower, or if that’s too hard, splash your face or brush your teeth. Eat something, healthy if you can muster it, but anything will do if you can’t. (I like cheese sticks or avocado and crackers for an easyish snack ). Or if you’re eating everything that’s okay too – kindness to yourself is key here. Doing any small thing you can for yourself is better than nothing and if something seems too hard break it down into manageable chunks. One thing at a time. One foot out of bed. One arm in a tee shirt. One step. One breath.

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