Lessons from lock-down, creating a Self-Care SOS List!

I decided to write this piece a while ago, for when I’d finished my treatment, but I’ve realised I’ve now hit a new wave of lock-down lethargy, I’m feeling all the emotions and just want to break out and drive to the sea! What I’d give right now for some fish n chips wrapped and seasoned in paper, sat overlooking the big expanse of the ocean.

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My last isolation lift selfie before chemo and with my lovely nurses, Debbie and Rachel at the end

It’s probably due to a rubbish night’s sleep last night but in essence, none of us have the answers do we? We’re all just getting through this as best we can.

As you know, partial lock-down started for me back in November, due to chemo treatment making me more susceptible to any infection and so I’ve had to be extra careful anyway. Then, 6 weeks ago I was put on the ‘severe high risk’ list and so it stepped up a level.

Thankfully, my kind consultant agreed to at least let me out up the country lane by our house, for a 20-minute walk, which I generally do at sunset when no-one else is around. For someone who has always appreciated nature, before all this went on daily-dog walks and is a self-confessed nature geek, this was vitally important for my sanity!

Just to breathe in fresh country-air, chat to the lambs (yes I actually do), nod at the alpacas, feed the horses some sweet long grass, listen to the birds nattering noisily on the telephone wire and watch the sun melt into the horizon at sunset, makes all the difference to me.

This and having a daily focus are what counts and what I highly recommend to make life a whole lot easier and less stressful, especially if you do have creative interests you can be getting on with.

I think it must be incredibly hard if you don’t have interests or a work focus, I’m not sure I could get myself motivated by just another ground-hog day of household chores and feeding the army that must live in our house because the fridge is under constant-siege, if I didn’t have my creative focus.

So, this is my go-to list of what I’ve been up to, once I’ve felt well enough after each treatment and why it has worked for me:

  • Art or doodling – I can’t emphasise enough how therapeutic this is and along with writing, it’s the one thing that settles me into that distracted ‘flow’ state and time happily drifts away. Some people may think this is a waste of time, that it’s just ‘playing’, well yes, it is but if it makes you feel better than why not? For those who are wanting to take their skills further, it’s an opportune time to keep practicing on a more regular basis and try new techniques.

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It’s been lovely sketching outside in the sunshine!

  • Gardening – I don’t have green fingers at all, I’m no good on which plants go better where in the garden, but thankfully my Mum has so she advises me on choices! What I do like is getting some colour into the garden, to me it’s just like colouring in but with plants! At first, I wasn’t sure where to get plants from, but it seems slowly garden centres are doing deliveries now and I managed to get an offer online of a nice selection to brighten up outside.

Getting some colour into the garden

  • Writing – whether this be journaling, poetry, short stories or a bigger project, writing has the same effect on me as above. If you are journaling it helps you process what is going on too, downloading any anxious thoughts out of your head is a relief in itself but it’s also important to seek out those positives too. Every day I write 3 good things and sometimes record them on Instagram via the hashtag I created, #seekingsparklesofjoy, it may seem hard some days but usually there will be at least 3!

I’ve been documenting what has been going on, mainly to look back on in years to come so I don’t forget those small details we did as a family to get through it, and I’ve also started doing one of the creative writing classes I normally do via Zoom and it’s nice to be challenged with prompts again and catch up with everyone.

I also posted my poem that I did for Yorkshire Writer’s Lunch Blog last week that coincided with my last treatment, it’s here if you’d like to read it.

For those who are thinking of bigger projects, I’ve been following author Lucy Atkin’s Live sessions on Psychologies Insta account where she’s been giving her tips and advice on writing a novel. These sessions have been really useful, and you can follow along too, they take place at 1.30pm on a Friday, here.

I can’t say I’m fully back to writing my novel yet, I still need some extra memory power for that, but I can feel it coming thanks to Lucy’s inspiration! In the meantime, I have started another project which is top secret for now, but it is keeping me busy which is a good thing!

  • Reading – I’m an avid reader, as many people are and if there’s ever a time not to feel guilty about curling up with a book, now is the time! Getting stuck into fiction stories to transport us off into another world is highly enticing right now and a much-welcomed distraction.

I’ve just finished Magpie Lane, by Lucy Atkins, mentioned above and I absolutely loved getting absorbed into the educational community of Oxford and an unusual, fascinating story that kept me guessing with intriguing characters right up until the end.

I’m also a big magazine reader, and my subscriptions popping into my letter box feel like a real treat right now. Psychologies Magazine has lots of feel-good articles and interviews to help you look after your well-being during this time, Country Living Magazine is awash with colour, gorgeous countryside views and inspiring creative business interviews and Writing Magazine helps to keep writers focused in these strange times as well as how to adapt your submissions during the ‘new normal’.

For those wanting to learn more about something you are interested in trying or to just learn more about creativity in general, again now is a great time to do just that whilst we have this rare extra time. There are some great books listed on my Curious Cave page that you can learn from and by further inspired by, my absolute favourite being ‘Big Magic’ by Elizabeth Gilbert, a great place to start.

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  • YouTube

My children love YouTube for entertainment, but I use it to learn too. It’s a fantastic resource particularly to learn art skills as you can simply follow along the steps and pause if you need to. We will be using this for my son’s art project, he’s wanting to try hydra-dipping with spray paints, and I haven’t a clue so YouTube to the rescue!

I’ve used this myself for Brusho painting techniques and Line and Wash skills too, John Harrison who is an excellent line and wash artist has started doing demo videos too during lock-down.

  • Podcasts

If you’ve followed for a while you will know I’m a podcast fanatic! It’s the only thing for me that makes cleaning and tidying bearable! There are so many available, both entertaining, useful and educational and best of all most are free, so if you are new to this and want a head-start, check out my Top 13 Recommendations.

  • Cooking & Baking – I’m not a huge fan of either, I have to be in the mood to do it and not rushing, but most situations in life can be eased by a piece or cake or gooey brownie and a cup of tea! Plus, the daughter is obsessed with baking….and eating it all!

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  • Keeping connected

I miss my creative groups so much and have done since I started treatment, but now at least more and more, we are getting together virtually.

Virtual catchups with friends really help too when we all need a rant or to lift each other’s spirits, thank goodness for the tech!

The kids are doing Tik-Toks, bike-rides, games and hosting family zoom quizzes and are generally being good, so far, around the schooling structure of the day. They had a camp out at Easter in the garden and we played cards by firelight and toasted marshmallows. My son and I gazed at the stars on the clear night and spotted their names using the Sky Safari Ap, Venus shining bright.

The husband and I are well into watching Homeland, a little late to the party I know but at least we have several series to watch to keep us going a while.

And finally, it goes without saying that keeping healthy at home; eating well, trying to get a good night’s sleep, as well as trying to keep a sense of humour when we are stuck together this much is really important!

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And the best therapy of all, is simply cuddles with the dog, you can’t exactly be fed up with this face around who is always happy to see you!

So, I’d love to know how you are getting through this, are you a flurry of activity or are you yet to find your mojo? We’re all dealing with this differently and so it doesn’t really matter how, so long as we get to know the things that can light us up and help us feel better.

It may even be worthwhile writing a list of the things you enjoy the most and will take you out of any dark corners you find yourself in, a kind of Self-Care SOS list for when you need it. I’d love to know what’s on yours.

Until next time…stay home, stay safe, yada yada lol, you know the drill!

Take Care,

Juliet, The Curious Creative x

5 Comments on “Lessons from lock-down, creating a Self-Care SOS List!

  1. Love anything you write Juliet, it always cheers me up and spurs me on. Most of my time is spent in the garden and cooking the latter not doing my waistline any good whatsoever. You would think that one would compensate the other but no. You are doing so well love and it won’t be long before your full strength is back to normal then the world is your oyster. Lots and lots of love. Xxxxx

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    • Haha thank you, glad you’re doing ok, I heard about the house pipe incident which had me in stitches! Can’t wait to get back to our girly lunches! Tc xxx

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  2. Pingback: How to motivate yourself back into creative action, with a little kindness… – The Curious Creative Club

  3. Lovely writing Juliet. No1 on my self care SOS list – cuddles with my pooch! Really getting into gardening as well and learning lots from You Tube about gardening! Love and hugs Rachael xx

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  4. Pingback: Keeping Connected in tough times – The Curious Creative Club

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