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Twenty-Five Ideas for Self Care of Stress & Anxiety

I am just home from a morning stroll which was intended to last half an hour, but became two. I wandered to the lake and watched swans and rowers glide on the gently sunlit water. I visited a garden and browsed some quaint little shops. Once or twice I worried about the time I was "wasting" but then let that go. It felt luxurious to amble through the morning in this way, surrendering to peace and beauty. 

charles courtney curran

The Lecture
skip this if you like and go straight down to the ideas

I am doubtful that stress and anxiety can be fully treated by fixing one's thought processes alone. I believe self-care and self-comfort are key. Creating a safe internal environment (ie, a habit) of loving ourselves and tending to ourselves is so important. Obviously having non-self-harming thoughts is part of this, but the process must begin with the fundamentals. You can't reformulate faulty thinking if your body is a jittery mess, your instincts tending towards negativity, your systems in panic mode, your community unsafe, and your environment not embracing your essential needs. Often, when you have tended to all of these things, so that you develop inner and outer supports, your faulty thoughts will naturally slide into better sense. 

alexander averin

Twenty-Five Ideas
to soothe and comfort your stressed body & spirit

Massage gently scented lotion into your hands and wrists
Go for a stroll amongst trees or flowers, or if that's not available, amongst quiet streets
Smell the pages of a favourite old book
Have a warm soothing drink to help you slow your breathing
Wrap yourself tightly in a soft blanket
Hold a cushion or hot water bottle against your middle
Hug someone
Rest your thoughts by watching a funny movie or playing a computer game
Hold your wrists under cool, gently running water
Browse your favourite pinterest boards, soaking in the beauty
Swim in warm water
Let the wind drift against your uplifted face
Sit in the rejuvenating warmth of sunshine
Brush your hair
Bake something delicious which you can eat for afternoon tea
Twist a tea towel, bash a cushion, link your fingers tight, expel your breath forcefully
Talk to a friend either about your troubles or something happy
Have a warm shower then dry yourself with a comfy towel
Rub your upper arms or brush them with a soft hairbrush
Do some knitting with needles or fingers
Draw lovely designs on your hands or feet
Drum your feelings
Visit your favourite place, be it the seaside or woods or a bookstore
Put on cosy thick socks and your softest clothes
Sing lullabies to yourself

Please feel welcome to add your own ideas in the comments section

Kindness, pancakes, and government assassins

I'm not having a lot of success with my kindness project. My only opportunities have been for basic good manners - eg, letting people go ahead of me, smiling at passersby. I'm in the middle of a fibromylagia flare which means I can't get out more to seek advance kindness possibilities. I have been thinking about it alot though, and come to some sad conclusions. Our culture, our government agencies, schools, even our churches, are failing us horribly when it comes to caring for people and supporting a kind society. They have responded to this mandate by offering rigid, proscribed, money-focussed responses. We need a new culture of caring, respect, thoughtfulness, and open-mindedness. Yes, there are lots of good people in the world. But if our society's very structure is rotten, then billions are going to continue to suffer, no matter how polite their neighbour may be.

I honestly don't think humans are made to withstand our current capitalist, materialistic, tech-saturated culture in which families are separated most of the day and people have less mental respite because of technology.

But that's enough lecturing for now. Last night I finished reading Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. It was entertaining enough to keep me from my own writing. I didn't like the heroine, but I liked everyone else, so that made up for it. And all the mentions of home cooking made me go out and buy pancake ingredients for the first time in years. For a book full of death it's actually really charming and fun, and I recommend it. 3.8 stars.

The Kindness Project Day Two: better late than never

I got to late afternoon yesterday without having done any acts of kindness, and was trying to think how I could translate that into a wise, meaningful blogpost, when I was called upon to help someone just in the nick of time. It meant doing a lot of back and forthing, and at one point my legs almost gave out (fibromyalgia) and I was limping in pain (determination) but it was definitely worth it (something to write for my kindness project post.)

I learnt, or perhaps better to say that I was reminded, that doing kindness for someone has its own special satisfaction which easily counters usual feelings of laziness, irritation, or cripping leg pain. And the knowledge afterwards that you did something helpful and kind is particularly lovely: you feel pleased with yourself without any sense of bragging. Because real kindness is never scored. Instead, it feels almost like a home-coming. Like humans are meant in their very bones, their souls, to be thoughtful and helpful and generous, but have mostly in these days of capitalism and competition been drawn away from that.

Also yesterday I was witness to an act of kindness which brought me to tears with its power. It was an amazing example of how kindness is an expression of seeing people, acknowledging and valuing people, and as such can be a potent healing force. Personally I believe that if only people in general were kinder to each other, we'd have a lot less suffering in the world.

The Kindness Project Day One: rained out

Alas, I'm not off to a great start with the Kindness Project. I did let someone have my umbrella even though I knew I would later have to walk to the shops in the rain, but that doesn't count because of course I did. No one keeps hold of their umbrella when another person needs it.

But when, at the shops, the creepy old guy who busks outside the supermarket tried to talk to me, calling out to ask where my bike was, then trying again with hello Bike Lady, I ignored him, pretending to be deaf as I walked past reading my book. This was a self-kindness, because the man has made my skin crawl for several years now and I usually go out of my way to avoid him, as do many women of my acquaintance. Perhaps I should have been kinder to him, but surely it can't be in his best interests to encourage his inappropriate energy towards women. Yes he's a bit crippled, and no doubt poor, and perhaps simply friendly, but that doesn't invalidate how he makes me feel. One of the things I believe about kindness is that while we should cast it about with wanton generosity, we should also do it safely, not excusing or encouraging harm.

Otherwise all the kindness I have achieved this morning is not snapping at people when they got in my way, and not correcting other people's spelling mistakes on twitter.

Afternoon update: it's still raining, and I'm tucked in at home with tea and a book (Agnes and the Hitman by Crusie and Mayer - enjoyable so far) and am almost sort of writing, so there will probably be no futher kindness today, except to my characters.

By the way, I meant to tell you - the other night I was out for a late walk and came across a large possum gambolling on the road. He was having a grand time and for a moment it seemed like he would come and dance at my feet. I later met a snail also, but it was more sedate. I felt rather like one of the wild things on the road that night, dwelling in a language of breeze and leaf and the subtelties of shadow. It's heartening to know I share this neighbourhood with determined little snails and joyful possums.

The Kindness Project

Tonight I started reading Twelve Days of Christmas, by Debbie Macomber. It's sweet, the kind of story I'd like to watch as a made-for-tv Christmas romance, but can really only take in small doses as a reader. (Generally I like a bit of sardonic humour or wryness or shapeshifting monsters with my romantic comedies.) I'll probably have it read by the end of the night. 

Macomber's heroine Julia is annoyed by her grumpy neighbour Cain so decides to blog a "kindness project" with him as the subject. As I was reading and walking through the sunset, I thought I might like to do something similar. Easter is two weeks away - Ostara, although it will be Samhain here in the southern hemisphere. 

For the next fortnight I am going to run a Kindness Project experiment. 

I have no one in particular I want to win over, although if any handsome moody gentleman wants to step grumpily in my way I'm happy to experiment on him. But I'm actually interested to see what effect such a project will have on me. I'm a shy Aspy extrovert who likes people mostly in theory. Let's see if two weeks of going out of my way to be kind to others changes my attitude. 

I did tonight walk a considerable distance to do an unpleasant favour for someone, but that doesn't really count because I decided on the project while I was already walking. However, I was extra smiley and nice to the shopkeeper who sold me the chocolate bar I bought to be kind to myself along the way, I even looked in the direction of his face for about a second or two, so perhaps this can be marked as my first for the project - ?

I doubt I'll attract the tens of thousands of readers Julia did on her blog, mainly because blogging doesn't work like that, but I do hope you'll read along, leave comments, and maybe be inspired to do your own pre-Easter/Ostara/Samhain Kindness Project too.  

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Thanks & Blessings.