Hello, dear readers (if i still have any of those!),
I’m writing this on one of my favourite kinds of days – the kind that i wish that i could bottle up and have every day. The sun’s out, with a beautiful refreshing breeze so that i can sit outside without a jumper, but am not becoming a puddle. For whilst I adore a hot hot holiday, normally (referring to ‘non-holiday life’ rather than ‘non-coronavirus life’ here for a change!) I’m a Brit through and through and don’t love being too hot and sticky.
I know it’s been a while since I last wrote a blog post (11 months to be precise), so I thought I’d start this one off with a little update for those who are interested.
In January I finally took the plunge and moved out of London. Having lived in the city on and off for over 5 years, I was starting to feel like I was ready for a change – and going out with a farmer did somewhat pull me out of London! So now I’m living a semi-suburban, semi-rural life in Herefordshire, and I love it. I do miss my city friends, the food and excitement of London (again, in non-coronavirus times), but it’s so green here and most days that completely makes up for it – I’m now just waiting earnestly for when I can finally have friends to come and stay.
As for work, I’m now working as an eating disorders dietitian in the NHS, rather than private practice, which is different but also really exciting and challenging, not least because we’ve switched up the way we work drastically (like almost everyone else!).
Something that I’ve thought about a lot since moving, and now even more so during the lockdown, is how I can adapt the idea of creating a self-care toolkit, which is a concept that I often discuss with clients. When I first moved out here in the middle of winter, I didn’t live particularly close to lots of friends, I’d moved further away from my family on the south coast and my boyfriend was away during the week with work. So I started creating a mental toolkit of emotional support strategies which included reaching out and actively booking in phone calls and FaceTime sessions with my friends and family who weren’t close by, arranging regular meet-ups with friends who are semi-local, and stepping away from social media (hence the very long period of silence both here and on Instagram).
And then the pandemic and subsequent lockdown happened, so I had even more time on my hands and more reason to create an amended and more robust ‘toolkit’, the contents of which I thought I’d share with you below. What I want to reiterate, though, is that I really appreciate that although we’re all in lockdown and staying at home more than usual at the moment, this pandemic is affecting us all differently. So please don’t read this post as a to-do list whilst in lockdown. Feel free to bypass this whole post if that’s what feels right to you. But also feel free to share what you’ve been reading, listening to, getting up to during this period, particularly if it’s free!
My Lockdown ‘Toolkit’
A really rough but fairly stable routine
Whilst I was working on my relationship with food, I also worked to relinquish some perceived control over the day – to move away from anxiously attempting to put a rigid routine in place. What I have found helpful instead is to find a rough routine that I generally follow. Matt Haig discusses finding a routine ‘baggy enough to live in’ which I find a far more relaxing and realistic way of looking at things. I’ve found a routine that gives me structure, but doesn’t end up feeling like an endless, insurmountable to-do list. Without giving too much away and being prescriptive (my life is not your life) I find that regular meals and snacks give structure to the day, particularly right now when some of us might feel like we have no idea what time or day of the week it is. (And this is definitely something that I always discuss with clients, especially those working through recovery from an eating disorder or disordered eating.) I’m also trying to keep a fairly regular bedtime still.
Things to Watch
A very brief overview of my recent watchlist;
- Normal People – BBC. I’m in the camp of having watched the series without having read the book and just got consumed by the series – in a good way!
- Secrets of the Museum – BBC. A rather agreeable substitute to actually being able to go to museums at the moment – and you get to see behind the scenes at the V&A!
- Gardeners’ World – BBC. I appreciate that this is like recommending the news as a good place to hear about current affairs, but I love the gentleness of the programme and am desperately trying to put some of the tips into practice.
- Shrill – BBC. Just the most delicious adaptation of Lindy West’s book Shrill.
Things to Listen to
- Alain de Botton on Embracing Vulnerability in the Age of Coronavirus – How to Fail podcast. In this special episode of the podcast which was released at the very beginning of the coronavirus crisis here in the UK, Alain spoke very comfortingly about the unusual-ness of this situation and how most emotional responses are to be fully expected! I’m sure that his words of wisdom will likely still resonate a couple of months after our ‘normal’ lives first changed.
- The 1619 Project podcast – The New York Times. I’ve been revisiting this podcast amidst the current anti-racist protests and activism as it is such an enlightening and eye-opening reframe of the history of America and slavery. (You can read more about the project here)
- I came across this Bossa Nova playlist on Spotify and felt immediately transported to a sandy beach at sunset. My boyfriend, on the other hand, claimed that he’d never heard anything less relaxing – so I’ll leave it to you to make up your own mind!
Things to Do
- Attempting gardening – I’m a recently-relocated Londoner through and through and got too carried away with planting ALL the seeds in a packet of tomato seeds so have ended up with tomato plants coming out of my ears, but I’m not currently sure about how much fruit they’ll produce. It’s interesting to start a new hobby and be confronted with perfectionism – the phrase “I’m just learning, it doesn’t need to be perfect” has been said rather a lot.
- Colouring – I still have a lot of colouring books from that mindful colouring trend a few years ago.
Things to Read
I ended up moving out of London with so many books that I hadn’t read that at the beginning of lockdown I tried to resist the temptation to buy any new books and focus on reading the ones I’d already bought! Needless to say, I have caved occasionally, so the books below are a mixture of relatively new releases and some older. (None of these are affiliate links)
- Anti-Diet: Reclaim Your Time, Money, Well-Being, and Happiness Through Intuitive Eating – Christy Harrison
- Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
- Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens
- Emma – Jane Austen (I told you some of these were old!)
- We Should All be Feminists – Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche
- 99 Mindful Conversation Topics – The Good Trade (Side note: I’ve been loving The Daily Good, a daily newsletter from The Good Trade with simple recommendations for songs, articles, books and follows.)
- The Myth of the ‘Work Hard & You’ll Succeed’ Mantra – Refinery29 – “Of course we should work hard – just not to our own detriment, and not so that our efforts and desire for success can be exploited or dangled before us as bait or as excuses for inequality.”
I don’t know about anybody else, but in the midst of all the uncertainty (even though my experience of lockdown has been relatively easy and stress free) I started noticing my inner critic pipe up. Whether that was in the form of body image thoughts, or questioning my ‘productivity’ and aligning it with my worth. Through discussing the use of coping statements with my clients to support ED recovery, I revisited coping statements which I have personally found helpful before and discovered new ones to write in my journal.
Although it can seem quite innocuous, our self-talk can have quite an impact on our relationship with ourselves. Very similar to affirmations, coping statements can be a motivating and nurturing way to speak to ourselves during a time of crisis, discomfort or pain. If you notice that you engage in quite a lot of negative self-talk, I’d invite you to switch things up a little and explore some coping statements which feel comfortable to you.
I’ve included a few of mine below, but remember that we’re all different and will find comfort in different phrases.
- ‘Do not shame yourself if you need time to rest’ – Morgan Harper Nichols
- ‘The uncertainty around me will not hinder the peace within me’ – Morgan Harper Nichols
- ‘Today, may you greet your body with kindness’ – Fiona Sutherland & Marci Evans
- ‘You are enough’
- ‘To be soft is to be powerful’ – Rupi Kaur
And my favourite affirmation in video form by Donté Colley
Thank you for reading this far, and thank you for sticking with me on this blog! I’m wishing all of you the best, considering. Please feel free to share any of your own recommendations in the comments below or over on Instagram. And, as always, please feel free to get in touch.