There are so many good tools to use for self-care, like painting, hiking, meditation, cooking. These are all wonderful. They focus the mind on a single activity, put issues on a temporary time out, and provide goals to reach. I enjoy all of these minus the cooking. My husband keeps me alive with foodstuffs.
I want to focus on one particular tool, journaling. I have kept a diary (called a journal when you’re over 19 maybe 20, not sure why) since I was eight years old. I have many volumes of hand-scribbled books, with covers of puffy stickers to unicorns to Celtic designs.
I leaf through the pages and find the traumas I survived, some of which I don’t remember, many that I do, and I shake my head that I am still alive. There are joys I can relive, and little treasures I stuck between the pages. Some of them take me to a time and place, others had a meaning that is long lost. Whatever it was, younger me loved it enough to tuck it away, so I leave it where it rests.
See, it is your most private sanctuary, it is yours to express yourself however makes sense to you. Record the events of the day. Write your dreams. Draw pictures, watercolor, tuck things inside that are meaningful to you.
Can’t draw? Can’t paint? So what! Does the act of drawing or painting or whatever make you happy?
Do you see that picture right there? The blonde lady with floating bubbles and what appears to either be a yellow aura or she’s standing in front of a blinding light bulb? The one pained by someone who has apparently never seen a human body before? I painted that! That’s my painting! And it is objectively horrible! But I love it. I love coming into my studio, gathering my brushes, putting up a canvas and playing artist. It’s living a dream for me. It just makes me happy, and that’s enough.
What about you? Do you give yourself permission to play?
If a unicorn journal made you smile, would you buy it?
There is a truism I have found in life. People tend to restrict themselves with “I can’t because”…I’m an adult, I’m a professional, it would be stupid…I respectfully disagree.
Here’s the thing…I have a very large collection of a certain mouthless white kitty (I don’t want to get sued.) I get annoyed if someone refers to her as “it.” I have only one drawer left in a 6 drawer chest for clothes. I’m 50.
She makes me happy, and that’s enough.
So please, go out and do something that makes you happy. If you are in a depression this will seem Herculean, but if you can, walk to the sidewalk. Then another day to the end of the block. And celebrate each accomplishment. You are awesome! You did it!
If you can’t, truly can’t, then find a pen and some paper, and try to spell out what you feel. It really does help.
Or paint a picture like my malformed bubble lady, which I did while deep in the bowels of a pit. Because now it makes me laugh, it makes me happy.
And right now, at this moment, that’s enough.