Mindfulness Painting from Painting Valley
So often we are so busy in responding to and looking after those around us that we forget to take time for us and to make sure we are looking after our own wellbeing.
I started writing this blog some time ago but didn't quite get around to finishing it. I was thinking recently how important it is now and after so many people have been directly and/or indirectly impacting by worldwide events, that we stop and evaluate how we not only care about others but also how we care for ourselves. So I thought it was time I finished writing this!
For many years I worked in an industry that promoted self care, primarily to manage the impact of vicarious trauma and critical incident stress. I even delivered training regarding self care, I am a debriefer and managed a Critical Incident Debriefing team.
Its often hard to put ourselves first, especially when there are people around us that we feel need us. One of the biggest issues with this is what is often called 'compassion fatigue' or what I call an 'empty cup'.
Having an empty cup means you have been so busy giving something of yourself to everyone around you that you have nothing left for yourself!
So how do you refill your cup?
Thats where self care comes in..
Self-care refers to those activities that we do with the intention of increasing our energy, restoring health and/or reducing stress.
Self-care can also be about understanding and managing the emotions and reactions that we have to things that occur in our day to day life.
Being mentally healthy and living well is so important to all of us – it means enjoying life and having the ability to cope with stresses and sadness, and it’s about being connected to friends, family, community and culture.
Taking time for self care is not always easy, but doing something small each day, week or month is a good start!
Ways to look after you:
Physically: Be active, eat well and get enough sleep and down time.
Relationally: Nurture and maintain positive relationships. Connect with others, especially if you have positive, shared interests.
Time for you: Make time for interest’s and things you enjoy and get involved with others with common interests.
Ask for help! Reach out for support if and when you need it! No one is exempt from needing help sometimes.
For many of us crochet, knitting and other yarny related activities play a pivotal role in our self care, however it is also the first thing that gets put aside when we are 'too busy' or 'under the pump'. Its important to remember that we need to put ourselves first in order to be able to care for others! Even if that means just a few rows and some time for you to refill your cup!
I asked some of the phenomenal women in our Facebook group, Yarn Me Calm Community, what they do to look after themselves, and here are some of their answers.
- I have used breathing exercises with traumatised young people for years as a way of teaching not just self soothing but bringing them back into the present.
- Crochet of course it keeps me sane, and yarn shopping 🤣🤣I love reading as well but nothing to read at the moment.
- Crochet in the car on my lunch break. Then when home crochet and sew some more ✂️ 🧵 🧶
- Apart from crocheting - a lot - I limit my physical interactions with people. The reason I do this is that I'm an emotional sponge. Physically being around people, other than immediate family, wears me out and I find myself stressing over their problems. The Internet is perfect for me because I can get social interaction without becoming too involved.
- I am autistic and have depression. I have a number of strategies. I do what people call stimming with my fingers I flick, I scratch myself and I hold my hand in tight fists. That’s why I started Crochet! It’s ticks all my sensory needs and is so much more socially acceptable to sit in a drs waiting room and crochet that to scratch my arms and it gives me goals and outcomes and when complete the complements boost my low self esteem.
- Also I read. I make myself sit and read and really focus on a chapter. I don’t move till it’s done. It’s better than exercise for me and makes me focus.
- Best of all I spend Time with my special dog Daisy! She is an assistant dog. I sit and pat her and focus on the world around me and she always makes me laugh she is a big goof ball when not actually working.
- If life is really trying though the best medicine is to hear my sister's voice on the phone.
Human Connection is critical for not just our emotional wellbeing but also our physical wellbeing.
- I crochet and knit to stay sane and keep calm but I also enable others to do the same by suppling yarn hooks and knitting needles when they start to learn. That also helps me stay calm and alive
- I crochet or play games on my Nintendo Switch. Both of these give me a break from the real world and be very relaxing.
- I am only just learning to look after myself as an older person with grown kids and an almost mature grownup husband, so I have started having skin treatments with Laser Clinics Australia, I feel wonderful afterwards and like I am really doing something just for me :) and of course buying lots of crochet projects.
- I actually gift my time. It is ‘me’ time, the bit where I can help others as a volunteer. You become involved, gain confidence, help others that need people, increases my social skills and I hope I make a difference and I can take my crochet 🧶 too ☺️
- When life gets to me I go in my craft room , shut the door on the world and either crochet , scrapbook or I have found diamond painting soothes the soul all while watching /listening to something I have taped on TV . My craft room is my happy place ..
- I’m an older woman who suffers from depression & multiple medical issues. In the past 5 years I’ve buried my husband, my mother (she lived with me) 3 dogs & 2 cats. Crocheting is my lifeline, without its calming, meditative influence I just wouldn’t cope.
- I’ve learnt to crochet this year and I’m quite proud of myself for it, for my brain has two tumours in it and one dangerous one in my memory bank that I’ve had operated on a few years ago. For this reason I need to try new things to to keep my memory alive and functioning. Remembering rows of sequence is hard work for me but I’m doing it, and creating at the same time.
- I read a lot and also crochet peacefully, usually with the cats being "helpful" beside me.
- I stay up too late to watch netflix, and chill all on my own
- I have back and leg injuries and also left arm problems. I have been doing physio and walking a bit. But, I spend quite a bit of my time crocheting and knitting for charities. At the present though, I am concentrating on trying to organise some Christmas presents.
- I'm a mental health nurse and use my crafting as a healing therapy and it's so productive too! I then enjoy giving away what I've made to the people I love. Has been a tough year for me personally and professionally and I honestly think I'd still be stuck in a rut without my crochet
- I’ve been off work with the blues, too long of a story to share here, but crocheting or knitting takes me to my happy place and l can just concentrate on my current project
- If I get the time. Breakfast at a cafe with myself, my crochet and a good podcast is amazing... and my little corner of the world has many to choose from
- Apart from crochet I sew and am a singer involved in a choir and a musical theatre group for all abilities. Singing is a big big part of my life and as a cancer survivor it keeps me happy and by healthy
Image from Thrive Global.
- I learnt to crochet this March, I had quite bad anxiety and this really helped. I also enjoy taking a bath, helps with the fibromyalgia and I burn essential oils, sometimes if I need to I will do all 3, then I play an audiobook and crochet away....my partner says I'm easy to keep happy.
- Hook, read inspirational verses, strong tea 💙
- Crocheting is my happy place with my anxiety and depression I do find cooking with my kids help
- I crochet of course , thats a silly question lol. and read and listen to music or a massage
- I have only just got back into crocheting and knitting after many many years. So my me time is spend drooling over everything I want to learn to do and my animals. Love my dogs rabbits and my birds, and it takes me out in the fresh air.
- Me I run around like a loony but the odd swim at the beach and my Monday and Wed crochet class's are my happy place
- This is what I do...... engage with you - my wonderful, like-minded yarn community 😍
- Since becoming sick and being medically retired, aged under 40, I was lost and cut myself off from friends and family. I hadn’t touched a hook or needles in years, and a friend asked if I could make her son a Dr Who scarf for a fancy dress party. So I did. And now I don’t stop.
- Everything I make and put up on social media has the hashtag #crochetastherapy- which it continues to be for me 😘
- I love crocheting mandalas!!
- I recently let go of smoking... I'm getting rid of habit triggers by crocheting... 17 days and still good 😁
- I have mobility and mh issues. Crochet and music help. We also live near the beach, so sitting and crocheting, watching the waves and happy people, while hubby walks the dog , that is my happy place.
- I stop housework, shopping etc at around 2.00 pm everyday. The rest of the time is 'mine', mostly crochet or catching up on Social Media...lol We need a calming balance in our lives. 🌞🌸💜
- I choose to work less and spend more time crafting as my way of looking after myself.
- A little bit of crochet everyday, and a week interstate with my best friend, whilst my eldest attends the Tri-State Games. Multi-tasking for my benefit😊
- I have a bath, it soothes all the worries away and the world is always a much better place after. And every night I make sure to get some time with my hook and crochet my little heart out. I also hug my kids, my youngest likes to snuggle into me while I crochet, that is my happiest of places 💖
- Set aside some craft time everyday and attend 2 craft meetups with my like minded friends each week
Spending time with people who share our interests and being part of a community is a great way to feel connected.
- Unfortunately I don't get very much "me time" so if I'm lucky enough to be able to give myself some breathing time, I try really hard to relax without guilt. I crochet most of the time but if I can't do that for whatever reason, I look at patterns and plan more things, adding lots to my want to do list haha :)
- I try to relax , usually with a crochet project, and spending time with my family.
- I read and of course crochet.
- Lately my looking after myself has depleted, prior to this, I’d go to the hairdresser, have a nice shampoo cut and blow dry, this always makes me feel special.
- I crochet daily , and Keep my room which is my main creation space neat and snuggly at all times . It’s like having a holiday / hotel room
- That I can go to when I need a break from everyone else and the rest of the house
- Self care for me personally is taking care of my mental health so I can be the best me I can be. This takes knowing when to step back from things and also when I’m able to throw myself into things all about knowing my limits. 😊
- When I finally find the time, I crochet & listen to music or a podcast🎧My other favourite thing to do is talking📱📲 to my very good friend, usually about crochet 🧶🧶🧶❤❤🥰
- Crochet of course! I also sing, play piano and violin, walk my dogs, and tend to my lovely garden! ❤️💐🧶
- Well I’m looking after hubby atm after his surgery but I’m getting out in the garden which I love. I love this time of year, getting in the garden and planting now bulbs and seeds, seeing all of the flowers coming out....it’s just beautiful! For me time, this is what I love to do, and then sit and crochet while watching my beautiful garden come to life. 🌻🌷🌸🌺🌸🌹❤️
- I am a shut in & in a wheel chair, I used to swim, walk the dog & dance.
- A spinal injury changed all that, so now I colour in & art journal but mostly it’s my life long passion, Crochet, I’m always looking for inspiration & affordable unique & pretty yarn.
- I sometimes need to have some quiet time... peace, listen to the birds, read a book, go for a walk on the beach or my crochet. Just simple things in life.
- Crochet is my only me time. Between a special needs teenager and my appointments at the hospital up to 4 days a week it’s my only outlet, relaxation and quiet time.
- Oooh, I love a good book to read in a bubble bath! 🛁
- I have an incredibly busy life atm, and i love it... but i do need my quiet time... so I crochet.
- I have 4 kids aged 7, 4, 2and weeks. Plus own a small retail store with staff which i am still running despite having just had a baby. I also am trying super hard to keep a tidy house, cook wholesome meals, plus all the normal mum stuff. Also i am studying in a horticulture cert 3.
- Oh did i mention the husband? The biggest kid of them all... but he is my rock. My godsend (for the most part lol). So, late at night, when finally all the next days lunches are made, house is cleaned, kids asleep, and i am finally sitting, i crochet. The term is no longer "Netflix and chill." Its Netflix and hook! ( or podcast and hook lol).
- My mindfulness go to activity usually involves yarn. On occasion I just like looking at patterns. I also enjoy looking at what others make. 😍
- Crochet is definitely my therapy! I have generalised anxiety disorder, which can leave me stuck at home, as embarrassing as this is to say, for months at a time.
- Crochet keeps me grounded literally, without crochet you will find me cleaning non stop, or pacing the floors. It's a terrible illness but everyday I try to not let it beat me.
- I love a good murder/mystery documentary too, this combined with crochet is definitely my favourite downtime combo!
- (I know - murder with an anxiety disorder 😂 that's probably why I can't sleep sometimes 😂)
- A cup of tea (or glass of wine), my furry lap/feet warmers, some crocheting or a pattern book to plan the next project and the sounds of nature from outside instead of ringing phones or boss.
- Crochet is my happy place. I discovered it earlier this year and was surprised at how calming it was. If there is too much happening around me and crochet doesn't work, I take the dog for a walk and concentrate on my posture and breathing. That stops my internal chatter.
- I find crocheting and knitting to be great distractions from any worries, but my other favourite worry-remover is just being with my two dogs. Playing and wandering around with them is very good medicine :D
- Exercise and chocolate for that endorphin rush. And of course crochet is my favourite way to relax each evening 💜
- Oh my goodness I am certainly an advocate in taking self-care, particularly at the moment. I have had 3 major situations out of the top 10 stresses in life which I obviously have sought medical advice for. Stress causes illness as we all know and I've copped it badly with thrombosis in both legs. Not a happy camper lol! I crochet items for friends and family and at the moment am only able to do this in the evening as I am after 12 years living in the same property need to relocate by beginning of November. New landlord wants to renovate. Crocheting is not only rewarding, it is relaxing and like a herbal remedy for anxiety instead of prescription medication. I also find breathing techniques work well. Turning off the television in the morning shows as there is much garbage and negativity and listening to my favourites music instead. I also enjoy to plan my diary on days off when feeling overwhelmed with moving etc to book myself in for a pamper time (like I want to do my pedicure to feel and look good and to save $ for moving) and also book slots in the day for limited periods on social media. Not to be a perfectionist and to remove all negativity from life involving people, places and things. I have just found some helpful links for myself but if allowed by the rules of this groups would like to mention them. The first one is a stress test well worth taking the time to do. Mine is quite up there obviously. It gives you the option to share your result on fb but I feel that is total attention seeking personally and would never share those details. The second and third links is are great too.
- So TODAY I am fitting in some YARN ME CALM with a bit of lavender oil on the side 🙋♀️👌💜
- Crochet and reading for me. Can't believe what busy lives some of the other ladies have. Had some of that but all family have flown the coop now. Love to see grandchildren also when they are not doing sports etc.
- A cup of tea, my dogs and a seat in the sunshine, at the beach even better. And of course, time spent crocheting. 💕💚
- I crochet or sometimes sew or watch Netflix but mainly I crochet. It really helps turn off the world
- I can't say I actually do anything just for me... There is more to my story but I'll keep it short & simple... I crochet because I really enjoy it, the things I do make I gift to others to brighten their day. I have a loving partner of almost 14 years, two very energetic kids (4 & 10) who are my rock & my entire world. Thank you for the reminder that I really should start doing something for myself because It is well deserved & my wellbeing is important too. 💞
- Depression in general is too much time in the past. Anxiety in general is too much time in the future. So you have to be now... or you waste it all. And make yourself sick.
So many amazing, generous humans that were willing to share their voices here!
We all have our own self care strategies that we use, sometimes we have some we should and shouldn't use too (I type as I sip a Gin & Tonic)! The important thing to remember is that self care is important! Keep your cup full and remember that self care is not selfish, its necessary!
If you would like to share your self care strategies please feel free to leave a comment!