I know what you’re thinking. Nourishing yourself in lockdown has become a joke. You seriously cannot have another bath or walk around the block ‘mindfully’ again. You’ve cleaned out your garage, Zoomed with all your friends and you’re sick of the whole thing.
It’s a really really really hard time.
Collective anxiety is roaring. All the news hurts and it’s hard not to feel sucked under. My list of treats isn’t going to change any of that i’m afraid, I wish it could.
I really am sorry.
I’m not going to suggest you try and find your ‘upbeat’ self, or that you don’t allow yourself to cry. Sometimes the feelings are squiggy and all we’re doing is surviving. We’re human beings (though some of us more ‘zombie’ at the moment). That’s a part of all this.
But I do have a very small offering.
Stop doom-scrolling, switch off the news, put a temporary ban on any conversations about the dark issues, don’t try and improve anything. Let yourself bathe in a few bits n bobs I’ve curated that feed the soul in the ‘right here, right now’.
If you have anything to add PLEASE DO in the comments. The rules are: no politics, no triggers, no distractions, all lusciousness.
WATCH: Back to Nature (ABC iview)
Back to Nature is the ultimate in slow TV and First Nations storytelling. Each episode centres on a visit to somewhere any city-dweller could get to easily, but through a lens of extreme close-ups and with a gentle, knowledgeable guide everything is refreshed. Most viewers will be familiar with actor Aaron Pedersen who is host and executive producer of this spectacular series, and you’ll enjoy writer Holly Ringland’s take on their experiences.
You are invited to join Holly, Aaron and their various guides and guests on the walk of a lifetime- and it’s ok if you have a bung knee or aren’t fit- these folks are never puffed out (Aaron is riding a bike so slowly in one scene he’s almost swerving off the path). This show is about appreciating country, respecting our land- but it’s incredibly gentle about it. In just a few episodes I felt enveloped in a glorious warm glow… like i’d had a really beautiful meal or watched a stunning sunset. You’ll be rubbing dirt into your armpits before you know it.
EXTRA: ‘Joanna Lumley’s Britain’ (also on ABC iview, although not for long!). Having never watched her travel series before, I was pleasantly surprised to discover what a wonderful companion Lumley is, and being in her home country it’s all the sweeter. Sumptuously filmed it’s a timely lockdown reminder to love where you are with this queen of superlatives. While there’s some comedy as she revisits her time on Corrie or as a Bond Girl, there’s depth too, beginning her journey at Tilbury with the artist Everton Wright’s exhibition about first generation Caribbean immigrants. A loving, hopeful and joy-filled adventure.
READ: Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn (from Readings and other good book stores)
I’m sure you’re sick of Mindfulness. You’ve got the app, read the article, done the YouTube video. But seriously friend- this time it’s different. Jon Kabat-Zinn manages to make Mindfulness feel real and possible while at the same time coating it in something pretty and profound. I first read this book when I was going through a rocky time about 10 years ago. Each chapter is quite short, you can put it down and pick it up when you have a spare moment. It has lots of lovely quotes and practical exercises. But it’s also an invitation to take it slowly. There are no goals, no need to beat yourself up if you struggle. He reminds you again and again how the mind works in struggle (it’s not personal) and brings you simply and gently to try again, maybe in a slightly different way.
I remember having this book by my side, sitting by a creek not far from the city, watching thoughts travel down the water and smiling to myself. There is nowhere else I need to be except right here right now, curious to my own inner world, travelling with myself in Mindful practice.
DO: Make a vision board/cut stuff out of magazines and stick it on paper
You’re saving money on petrol and travel. Fork out for some glossy mags- anything from Home Beautiful to Retrobike to Vogue to Frankie to Breathe to Woman’s Weekly ‘Icons’ to Escape to Inked. Indulge in some lazy page-turning of prettiness. Or if that feels too wasteful grab free brochures, newspapers and handouts. A vision board can be about literal words and images, but I think it’s most nourishing when it’s about plastering a page full of ‘being’ and ‘feeling’ stuff.
Sit for a moment and jot down who you want to be, how you want to feel over the next year. More internal, sensory stuff rather than practical tick-boxes- lay off the fitness plans and the travel fantasies. Or tell me to F-off, do it however you want, just don’t overthink it. There’s something really pleasant about cutting stuff out and sticking it down. Also you can do it with the kids.
LISTEN: La Voce Del Violoncello by Elinor Frey (itunes and elsewhere)
I know nothing about cello’s or classical music, but I love this album by Elinor Frey. Her playing of this music gets right inside my bones and lifts me from the inside out. This is what it says about it on her website:
Solo Works by the First Italian Cellist-Composers. Music by Dall’Abaco, Supriani, Vitali, Gabrielli, Galli, Colombi. With Esteban La Rotta, theorbo and baroque guitar, and Susie Napper, cello. Passacaille Records, 2013. Music by JCF Bach, CPE Bach, Abel, Kirnberger, Graun, and Benda
To be honest, this might not be your cup of tea. Music is very personal, and ebbs and flows as our taste buds change over our lives. But leaning into the idea of nourishing stuff for lockdown, I invite you to find some instrumental music that you like (which encompasses a lot of classical music, but also might include jazz, solo guitar aficionados, or Finnish death metal – if you can’t understand the language it counts). Put on someone’s whole album, not a playlist, and let them take you on a journey in which you are not focused on lyrics. Our brains go to words very easily, allow the other parts of your brain to get a sweet massage.
READ: The Art of Frugal Hedonism by Annie Raiser-Rowland with Adam Grubb (from Permaculture Principles and other good bookstores)
I read this book when I was broke and living in inner-city Melbourne. I borrowed it from the library. The authors’ enthusiasm for the endless possibilities of a happy frugal life is infectious. Truly joyful and with a lack of self-righteousness you can imagine embracing these principles without rolling your eyes. You can apply the ideas to any location, but it didn’t hurt that they are from inner-city Melbourne. This book opened my eyes to so many options, it made everything around me feel different for a time. It doesn’t matter if you’re financially comfortable or struggling, ‘frugal hedonism’ is for everyone to take a look at their choices and pause for a moment. Slow down. Look around. Find the fun.
One example of many I recall is a ‘night hike’ in which they don backpacks in the evening and simply ‘hike’ all the way to end of the train line and then catch the first train back home in the early hours of the morning. No booze, no cars, all good times.
DISCOVER: Yoga with Adriene
If you haven’t heard someone banging on about Yoga with Adriene by now then you haven’t been in lockdown. You may already have your membership to your local studio- a great way to support struggling small business while getting your healthy mind/body on. But if you haven’t, welcome to Adriene and her dog Benji. Adriene’s videos are designed for home yoga. You don’t need anything but a beach towel, a pillow and comfy clothes. I’ve been told she has 600 videos on YouTube and i’d believe it. They range from 5 mins to a full session (though don’t assume the short ones are necessarily easier. The 45 min one i’ve linked to ‘Yoga for PTSD’ is a really nourishing session and most people should be able to do most of it and benefit).
She has kids videos, 30-day adventures, and with titles like ‘yoga for when you feel dead inside’ there really is something for everyone. I myself have been doing an almost daily practice for about two months now, and I feel the benefits- just a little bit each day. My posture, breathing and therefore ‘calmness’ are better, my core is stronger, energy lighter. But also it just FEELS really good, and that’s what this list is about.
EXTRA: If you’ve got curves for the gods like me, then you might want something to help with adjustments. Jessamyn Stanley has you covered with this awesome book ‘Every Body Yoga‘. You should also follow her on Instagram- but be warned. Jessamyn will challenge almost everything you think you know or believe about relationships, lifestyle and the world. She’s one of the most exciting people occupying the global wellbeing space.
If you’re really gung-ho, you can make your own spice tea mix, but you can just buy one from the health food store or supermarket. A local favourite made here is Rainbow Chai. Pop a heaped teaspoon per cup in a saucepan with a little water and bring to the boil, then reduce to simmer. Add a generous amount of milk/nut milk and lashings of honey. Smell it, taste it, stir it. Don’t pop it on and then walk away. Really get into the making. I think it’s almost more nourishing stirring and smelling than drinking. But do drink. Warm up. Close your eyes. Embrace the scent of deliciousness.
DO: forest, suburb, bush or city bathe
This X 10 after you’ve watched ‘Back to Nature’ or read ‘Frugal Hedonism’. Some of us can only go 1km from our houses at the moment but there may be opportunity to see things just a little differently and escape groundhog day. Go on a sloooooowwwww walk. Bathe in your surroundings. Introduce yourself to country. Look up. Touch a wall (carry your sanitiser of course). Breathe in the air. Forage from an urban fruit tree hanging over a fence. Crunch up a eucalyptus leaf and smell it. Drink in a piece of graffiti for 15 minutes. Listen to birdlife. If you go with someone else, make a rule that if you talk, you can only talk about your surroundings for an hour- what are you seeing, hearing, smelling, touching, feeling, experiencing?
And this isn’t off the cards with kids either. A friend was recently telling me how her toddler makes her see the world around her as so much bigger: he’s curious about everything. He can wonder at a stone or a pebble or a bug forever. Let’s be like that, just for a day or two.
Please add your tender loving lockdown experiences in the comments below. Let’s not lock the gold away, share the treasure.
If you liked this post, you’re sure to enjoy ‘28 Real Self-Care Ideas: More Than Just Taking a Bath‘.
And if you’re looking for a counsellor, you know where to find me.
Main Image by Brian Garcia on Unsplash Vision Board image from designsponge.com Chai Image by nipananlifestyle on Pixabay Raspberries image by Vasil Stefanov on Pixabay