What is a “wellness toolkit”? I first started gathering a wellness toolkit when I went through a really shocking bereavement when I was 28. My best friend from school died in a surreal DIY accident and it was like chucking a hand grenade into my life, everything in my life as I knew it for the past 15 years, was just blown up in that one day: it impacted every part of my daily existence: I split up with my long-term boyfriend 6 months later which means I also subsequently had to move house, and within 2 years I was also made redundant and switched careers to become a Pilates teacher – three of those things: bereavement, what was essentially a divorce, and moving house are generally accepted as being among the biggest stressors you can go through in your life which have a huge impact on your physical and mental health. Throw in my redundancy and I basically had neatly gathered together the badge of honour of experiencing stressors of the biggest BIG STRESSFUL EVENTS, all in the space of 2 years – plus turning 30 within this, which let’s face it as a woman it used to be thought that being single and turning 30 is a nightmare of high proportions (eye roll).
Yoga and Mindfulness Retreat in Andalucía
Without really realising it was what I was doing, I sought out healing space. I immersed myself in yoga: very often I was to be found with a tear descending silently down my nose in downward dog. And Pilates became my sanctuary for my overthinking brain: where I realised that to be fully and wholly focused on your body for an entire hour was like a cleansing system for the jittery grieving anxious mind. Through yoga I began practising a mindful awareness of the present moment, and cultivated what I began to refer to as “moments of pure happiness”. Fully noticing and being present in times when I knew this was high bliss of happiness, however trivial that moment might feel: usually when stroking a cat, or laughing wholeheartedly with a great friend, a beautiful sky, or going to a gig with my favourite band. I was storing up these moments and wholly, fully living, seeing, experiencing them – however fleeting. I didn’t really know that I was practising mindfulness and gratitude, but that’s definitely the skill that I was cultivating.
Motherhood for me was the next time I was thrown into a scenario where the emotional turbulence was huge and beyond my “control”, and again, my toolkit came a huge pillar in my self care habits. Time for myself. Swimming/yoga/meditative space. Pilates for pelvic floor and abdominal healing. Green space for joy and uplifting vitality. Drinking enough water, for remembering I am but a neurotic pot plant. Gratitude and a growth mindset: the things that have to be built in as skills so that when your resilience is under fire it doesn’t take extra effort to seek them out. This too shall pass.
Christmas is a time of huge pressure to HAVE THE BEST TIME. Pressure to be as opulent and extravagant as others. Pressure for the family to be joyous and together. We need to be able to take solace in our toolkits over this period and build in moments of pure happiness, moments of respite from the Shoulds and To Dos.
For the next month until Christmas I’ll be regularly sharing one of my Go To TOOLS from my toolkit, which shifts and shape changes according to my needs. What can you do, to bring you a moment of softness within the mayhem?
What are yours? I’d love to hear.