notes on nurture

I tend to compile blog posts over several days, and the thoughts don’t tend to flow as parallel as they are today. I only just published my last post, so I will schedule this for another day, but I like to add content. So know this was written on the same day, after an inspiring walk, an all new episode of Killing Eve, and two magazines later.

What a beautiful day it is. The sun is shining, the flowers bloom, the grass is green, and there is not a cloud in the sky.

I am feeling upbeat today, and want to talk about something important.

We all have heard of nature vs nurture. Think genetics vs environment. It is very much accepted, and factual, that we get a lot from nature. Generations before have traits that pass on to generations after, but nurture is so important too. Now I’m not here to talk about babies or new life, but I do want to talk about the importance of nurture for yourself, and for your soul. You have to treat your soul right. It needs nurturing.

There’s many a way to nurture yourself, and to do it in a respectful way. Be kind to yourself and don’t set limitations on yourself. You need to be planted where you can grow and then bloom. You need the right conditions and the space to expand.

Words of wisdom and truths are important to gather around you. Put them up around your bedroom, write out citations into a notebook before bed or when you first wake up. Moments like these are precious, and can both heal you and grow you.

I like to put a candle on before bed and get out my la vie est belle notebook and write away. Sometimes it is additions to my novel, sometimes it’s what I’m grateful for, sometimes it’s more like a diary entry. This quiet time gives me a moment to catch up on the day, check in with myself and my thoughts, and an opportunity to nurture my soul.

I’ve been trying new ways to connect with myself recently too. Weirdly, I have been singing out loud more. Admittedly, I’m not the greatest singer, and I’m embarrassed to sing in front of people (other than my boyfriend, who seems to like me singing him to sleep?), but it gives me a kind of release. I suppose it’s from expressing myself.

I also think it’s important to nurture your brain and not just your body. Self-care is so often about the physical. But in lockdown in particular, I’ve been testing myself to try new things. I’ve started learning Arabic on Duolingo and so far so good. A new language is a great way to keep your brain ticking over. And it’s enjoyable, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Solitude is also a great way to practice nurture. While time spent with other people is so good for the soul, a bit of alone time can reap benefits. We need to remember that isolation is not punishment, and that is even more prevalent in this time of the Coronavirus pandemic. Solitude should not mean, nor lead to loneliness, and if it does look mike that for you, either stop practising it, or lessen the time spent doing it. This is addressed in Breathe magazine’s article « State of Solitude ». This is the first time I’ve actually purchased this magazine, and I’ve not even read through it all yet but I’ve learned new ways to practise mindfulness and control my mind.

One article in this issue 29 of Breathe addresses passive aggressiveness. This is something that at times is rife in my household. We love each other dearly, but we can’t help but make digs at each other. I’m sure this is the case in many other family homes, so it doesn’t worry me too much. But, I want to learn ways to stamp it out so we can live in more harmony. I also want to make sure I don’t bring it with me to my future daily one day. I want to curate a life for my potential children that is rich in love and nurture, and focuses on their wellbeing and faith that everything is going to be okay.

So how do we deal with the passive aggressiveness in the home? The following is taken from Breathe:

  • Recognise the pattern. Take note of when the behaviour occurs, what seems to trigger it and what happens.
  • Refuse to engage. As tempting as it is to mirror the behaviour, don’t. You’ll end up deadlocked.
  • Affirm the anger. Address the angry behaviour or words with the person.
  • Manage the denial. Accept that there was a reason for the behaviour but reiterate that it’s still unacceptable.
  • Revisit. It may be that the person slips back into old habits – mention it again if necessary and revisit the discussion.
  • Compliment. Acknowledge and praise when any anger is communicated in a way that doesn’t hurt.

I wish I had known these steps when at university. I can’t lie, I’m not the easiest person to live with, and I could have applied this advice to my own behaviour, and others’ behaviour.

I touched on managing anxiety in my last post when I discudded Brené Brown’s podcast. However, Breathe’s article « Echoes of the mind » has only reinforced today what I realise needed expanding on. I openly discuss, and have discussed, my battles with anxiety and depression, in the hope that they will aid others in recovery.

It is so important to not allow the anxious thoughts of others to infiltrate your own. For the sake of my own sanity, I have had to learn how to separate my own emotions and responses. Something important to highlight: “A person with anxiety often needs to work extremely hard to keep their thoughts from spiralling out into unfounded panic and even their best efforts in regaining control of their emotions can still leave an infectious sense of fear and anger behind.” It’s for this reason that I only try to help others when I feel mentally strong and capable. If it’s a time of weakness or despair for me then I’m only going to transmit that to someone who is also struggling. I’m likely to only suggest documenting thoughts and feelings, getting fresh air, and well-deserved rest to people when I’m not in a good place. But people need much more than that.

If you have to deal with anxiety regularly, I would recommend actually buying this issue 29 of Breathe magazine as it has some very helpful tips. Under the heading « Managing the anxious cascade » are some really helpful tips that I must share as I feel they will be beneficial:

  • Use your senses. Practice really taking in the sights, sounds and smells of your environment. Slowing down and being more mindful every day makes it easier to draw on this skill in stressful situations.
  • Breathe. Deep abdominal breaths bring more oxygen into the brain, helping it to slow down, halting the rapid influx of negative thoughts.
  • Executive engagement. Try naming the emotions you’re feeling to engage the brain’s executive centre (involved in emotional regulation and management).
  • Time out. If you’re really struggling to get a hold of your emotions and the situation, physically take yourself out of it so that you can recoup your thoughts and you don’t make emotionally clouded decisions.

So. Let’s get positive this week. It’s Wednesday now that I’ve finished this post, and the sun is shining. We are in quarantine and life is so hard for so many people right now. I’m actively thinking of and praying for those with Covid-19 and their families.

Let’s look on life fondly, and if you’re well, let’s make the most of this down time to grow. If you’re not up for being productive, take stock and relax. I prefer the French word « reposer » as it’s much more applicable to this time. It’s like resting. Catch up on sleep, catch up on what you need to do or accomplish. Do things that are good for your mind and your mental health. Drink iced coffees, eat good food and enjoy the sunshine.

Love,

Anna

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s