• Tina Witherspoon

Mindfulness is the New Self Care

Everywhere you turn these days, folks are talking about wellness, self care and mental health. The pandemic has pushed these otherwise taboo/woo-woo topics to the forefront of society as the entire world grapples with the post traumatic stress of a global health crisis all while trying to stay connected on Zoom. It's somewhat unfortunate that it took something unprecedented like a deadly virus to put more emphasis on taking care of oneself, but maybe it was the only way to bring it into the mainstream discussion. You have to look for silver linings in times like these.

For most of my adult life, I've managed to find time for monthly (or every other monthly?) "recharge breaks" — like taking a bubblebath, coloring my hair at home or enjoying a mani-pedi. I never referred to these rituals as "self care" but they definitely recharged my body and spirit in the midst of the hustle culture that used to be my life. Now that I'm self employed and in charge of my schedule, my sanity doesn't require a half-day recharge from the pressures of living. I'm finding that incorporating wellness practices into my daily routine has made me more centered and patient and I've never felt more in tune with my overall well being.

That's not to say that I don't get stressed out or feel like crying now and then — in fact, I actually consider "a good cry" essential to well being — I'm just saying that I'm more aware of what's going on in my head than I used to be. Back in 2018, when I was working a more-than-full-time job, building a side business as a freelance photographer and commuting back and forth from an island, I couldn't really articulate what I was feeling or what I needed I just felt depleted. These days my pace is much slower and more intentional, and my morning "constitutional" (getting up before dawn to feed my dog and then sit by the water and listen to the birds) really grounds me.

Working with my hands has always been part of my life, but during the past 18 months it has been a life saver. In order to keep myself focused and not just doom scroll while listening to NPR, I joined a local group in an effort to sew enough face coverings to protect the community. I also challenged myself to learn new things. I tried it all — linocut prints, stenciling, digital illustration, needlepoint — you name it, I tried it. Sometimes I succeeded and just as often I failed, but each new thing I attempted gave me a fresh perspective. You can't stay stagnant when you're concentrating on making something new, it's simply impossible. I highly recommend getting out of your comfort zone and trying your hand at a craft. You won't regret it.


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