Our darkest times aren’t always when others hurt us, are they?
But when we hurt ourselves.
Those moments when we slip again into a habit we know is self-destructive.
A habit we know will bring pain. Regret. Loathing.
BUT we do it anyway.
Food. Wine. Social media. TV.
Gambling. Yelling. Bullying. Cruel gossip.
Obsessive buying of stuff we can’t possibly enjoy.
We all have our own personal poison.
And when we’re most vulnerable – when we’re anxious, lonely, bored, scared or just battling that constant, nagging sense of failure – they draw us in.
And hook us.
It seems so crazy doesn’t it?
BUT when we’re stressed, we all do it don’t we?
And slip so easily into the groove of that repetitive instant comfort.
WHILST totally hating ourselves for doing it.
And it feels like it’s harder and harder to resist those horrible habits when we’re all living under constant bombardment of a world that never sleeps …
… AND demands that we are always ON!
How on earth can we protect ourselves from ALL that stress?
Well it’s certainly not easy BUT building a bunch of tiny good habits that everyday ease our anxiety, loneliness, anger, boredom and sense of personal failure truly can help.
It has me.
These are absolutely NOT massive lifestyle overhauls.
It’s NOT about fancy complicated diets. Or non-stop yoga and meditation. Or extreme minimalism. OR whatever else the new – we’ll never stick to it – fad is.
BUT the simplest, smallest habits – soul snacks – that can nurture our tired, vulnerable selves.
Tiny good grooves we can slip into – when stress mounts – as easily as the horrid habits we hate.
Little things that there and then help us …
- Connect with others
- Feel at one with our own body
- Know we have done good
- Believe in ourselves
- Delight in our wonderful, beautiful world
- Enjoy our amazing ability to make stuff
- And just be there, present in the moment
This year I’ve tried to weave more and more of these simple snoul snacks into our days and weekly rhythms and the longer patterns and traditions of the months and the years.
Until with gentle reptition my tired mind can reach as easily for them as a glass – or three – of wine, my Twitter feed or angry yelling at the world.
It’s not an instant makeover.
But a long term way of living.
A recognition we all need soul food throughout the day everyday to protect us from our darker selves in a world that can be so unbelievably hard.
In case it helps, I’ve shared all sorts of ideas for soul snacks below.
Some from me. Some from friends.
Do try a bunch that tempt you. (Ignore those that don’t!)
Make space for them in your day. And look after yourself.
- Go for a walk
- Send a postcard
- Buy flowers
- Read a poem
- Do a crossword
- Feed the birds
- Sweep up leaves
- Take the bus … we are so isolated in our cars
- Chat to a neighbour
- Help someone
- Eat berries
- Make a cake
- Sit down with a cup of tea … and day dream
- Do a jigsaw
- Write a journal
- Pick up litter
- Sing a song loudly … however out of tune
- Say a prayer
- Smile at a stranger
- Tell a joke
- Stroll to the market
- Watch the squirrels
- Eat nuts and seeds
- Sand wood
- Paint with your children
- Make playdough with your children … just chuck flour & water together
- Do a puzzle
- Plant a bulb or seed
- Send a letter with a proper envelope and stamp
- Talk to someone at the shops
- Walk in the woods
- Mend something
- Play cards together
- Call a relative
- Sit out, watch the world go by … and talk to anyone who does
- Empty the trash
- Colour in … it’s not just for kids, try these or these
- Keep a nature journal
- Read a short story
- Say sorry
- Have a nap
- Play an instrument
- Play an old board game together
- Listen to the birds
- Take food to the food bank
- Play hide and seek with the kids
- Go for a bike ride
- Stop everything for elevenses
- Forgive something
- Pop into church … you don’t have to be religious, just enjoy the quiet space separate from our busy world
I do hope these help in some way. I would love to hear from you.