When the pandemic started, I entered survival mode. I did what I could to just allow myself to put one foot in front of the next. Sometimes that meant cooking elaborate dinners for us. Sometimes that meant baking delicious brownies and eating half the pan in one sitting. Sometimes it meant killing a 10-mile training run in ridiculous temperatures. Sometimes it meant breaking down into a blubbering mess. As the months have worn on the latter has been more frequent and it has been exhausting. Tom and I have talked and talked and talked about what I could do to help me find my center and until the last week or so nothing was helping. Being here in The Oodlearium is truly the only time I feel complete joy and peace, but even lately that has been hard.

Why does any of this even matter and why am I talking about this on a blog about creativity? Stress and depression/anxiety are some of the greatest blockers to creativity. I know that I am not the only one who has felt overwhelmed and this past year has amplified all of those feelings. I often describe my life as juggling 100 plates of fire and then every once in a while someone pours gasoline on it and everything comes crashing down around me. That is not the way I want to go through life. 

During our last post-breakdown chat, Tom was emphatic that I needed to practice daily self-care. That buzzword has always bothered me, because I associate it with yuppy soccer moms who want to justify getting their nails done in the middle of a pandemic. But, I understood his sentiment. I needed to take time for ME to make sure I am good every single day. 

We brainstormed a long list (have I mentioned how obsessed I am with lists?) of ways that I could take care of myself. I wanted to create a buffet of options so that I could pick and choose depending on my mood. I wrote each idea on a notecode and clipped them together with a binder clip. They sit next to my journal in the middle of The Oodle Surface where I see them every single day. Each day when I have practiced my self-care, I jot the date and anything noteworthy on the back of the appropriate card. It has been tremendously helpful and has kept me focused on taking care of myself.

Here are some of the activities on my cards:

  1. Yoga
    1. I LOVE Yoga with Adrienne. She has a video for every situation, but she is also incredibly loving and supportive. I just did her Yoga for Healing video (only 10 minutes) and I felt like a new person.
    2. This Yin Yoga Foundations video is excellent. It is 45 minutes, but it definitely calms my mind and my body.
  2. Meditation
    1. I try counting my breaths and staying focused on my breath. 
    2. I have also started using my hour glass to work on staying focused.
  3. Take an online art class.
    1. I recently purchased a five month subscription to CreativeBug for $5.
    2. There are TONS of classes on YouTube. Consider creating a library that you can go to when you want to watch something later.
  4. Write thank you cards.
    1. This book changed my life. 
    2. Have a stack of thank you cards ready (you can get them super cheap from the Dollar Store) and then you can just write it out quickly.
  5. Do a pour painting.
    1. If you are a regular reader of my This Week in The Oodlearium, you know that I am obsessed with pour painting.
    2. If you need a lesson in letting go, pour painting is a great way to do it.
  6. Take a nap.
    1. Most people go through their lives extremely sleep deprived.
    2. Don’t fight it. Your body is telling you that you need rest.
  7. Get out in nature.
    1. Fresh air ALWAYS helps.
    2. My husband set up a patio shelter last summer to block the harsh afternoon sun. It made such a difference and we spent so much more time outside than normal. 
  8. Index card art.
    1. This idea goes hand in hand with mindful doodling. 
    2. Grab a stack of notecards and a pen and fill the card with a pattern. Go back and color it, if you fancy. Base the doodle around an inspirational quote or even a power word such as strength.
  9. Read.
    1. My husband and I are reading Seth Godin’s newest book The Practice.
    2. We have both been profoundly moved and inspired by his message.
  10. Self-massage.
    1. This book has kept both of us out of the ER multiple times. Daily self-massage can help release the tension that builds up during our chaotic and stressful lives.
    2. Consider investing in a Theragun. We are not a gadget gadget family, but the $199 investment we made in our Theragun last summer has been life changing. As a runner, it has helped with recovery after long training runs, but it helps just loosen up sore muscles from life.

Download a printable copy of my cards here. (This link will force you to make a copy of the document and save to your Google Drive. From there, you can open it in Google Slides and print it out with six or nine slides / page onto card stock.)

Until next time, Oodle on and make sure you are taking care of YOU.

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