There is a recurring feeling that many people have expressed recently of being tired and worn out. The heavy weight of the pandemic, its restrictions, our separation from our communities and often-times our immediate families have taken their toll. I very much feel the same way, even though I have not had the same demands on me to ferry children to sport or activities as previously. I don’t know if this is how I always felt and I am only now recognising it because I have quite literally stopped. Or if it is something less personal, a whole earth energy shift affecting us all?
Now more than ever, we need to take care of our health. Aside from chronic or life-threatening health issues, I find diet the primary determinant of physical health, in addition to being active in some shape or form. I am not remotely qualified to provide health advice, so I will go no further than to say, eat well and get your body moving!
Likewise, tackling mental health is not something to be taken lightly or ignored. I can’t profess to know what advice to give someone in desperate need of help, and it would be irresponsible to venture down that path. That is certainly not the purpose of this post. But I think we have the power to shift our perspective by directing our attention to the things of substance – the things that matter to us. If we can be clear about our values and personal philosophy, we can better align our principles, our thoughts, words and actions, to that philosophy. There is much solace to be found in that.
For me, I look for simple joys. Things that can be easily achieved and are not dependent on too many factors outside my control.
“The true way to live is to enjoy every moment as it passes, and surely it is in the everyday things around us that the beauty of life lies.“Laura Ingalls Wilder
I am not so naive as to think that simply surrounding ourselves with beauty or focusing on the simple moments will protect us from falling into despair, anxiety, or other conditions. Nevertheless, there is value in recognising what brings you joy and creating opportunities to experience those moments.
An exercise that I have found helpful in the past is to reflect on the things that mean something to me, the little moments of joy that brighten my spirit and help me feel grounded and connected. I write these down, providing a tangible reference point when I feel worn thin and need to refocus my energies. Recently I did just this, and the following is the list I created.
- Collect flowers, branches of apple blossom or hawthorn berries from your garden, along the river, or wherever you find them. Use foliage, herbs, artichokes, celery or anything if flowers are hard to come by. Fill some vases, jars or cups and place them throughout the home, wherever you will see them.
- Bake something to share.
- Eat outside in the sun, or make it a picnic if you have more time.
- Go for a walk in nature.
- Set the table beautifully. Lay a tablecloth and set it with teacups and saucers, a jar of flowers, some cloth napkins. A set table looks just as beautiful and welcoming with op-shop items as it does high-end tableware.
- Show gratitude and appreciation for what you have by taking care of your things. Polish your boots, iron your tablecloths etc.
- Chat with a good friend or family member.
- Watch a favourite movie.
- Write an old-fashioned letter to someone. Add a recipe, a photo, or something meaningful to make the recipient feel extra special.
- Make something for someone – knitted socks, a loaf of bread, a piece of written prose.
- Read lots of material, fiction and instructional or informative books. Involve the kids by reading classic fiction books and seeking out books that align with their interests. Check out secondhand book shops and fill your shelves with pre-loved titles. Or head to the library – a valuable and thrifty resource. There is so much power in the written word.
- Avoid screens (a hypocritical suggestion, I know!). Make your time count – only watch programs you love and space it out no matter how much Netflix lures you! Make Instagram or Facebook posts and comments meaningful and honest.
- Be part of your community. Participate in and connect with your community through volunteering. Invest your time and care for your local environment and those around you.
- Make plans, small ones, big goals. Visualise the kind of life that makes you happy. How does that look? What steps can you take to get you there? Write these down to feel empowered and in charge of your direction.
- Take care of yourself. Show respect and pride for yourself by eating nourishing food, being kind to your skin and paying attention to how you look. It makes a big difference to your sense of self-worth, and it shows others that you appreciate your worth.
- Do things for love. There is no better gift than being able to do an act of kindness and love for someone else.
I read a quote recently by a lady from Ikaria, the island of long life, who summed up the best things in life in so few words, but they rang with truth.
“You need to be with and where your heart is full.“Marika, Ikaria
There is nothing flash or exceptional about my list. It is a humble collection of ideas that anyone can apply. But it is in the minutiae of everyday life that we have the power to change our circumstances. There are so many things out of our control that make us feel powerless and resigned to our fate. But we can affect the little things, and in that, find our strength.
I intended this post as a gentle nudge, and if it has struck a chord with you, I am humbled. However, if your problems seem insurmountable, I appreciate my words will be of little comfort. Seek help in safe places. You are never alone.
Until next time, take care.