I’m sure since you heard my podcast yesterday, you were all wondering about the CAL I announced! Okay, maybe just some of you…
I wanted to explain better what it will entail.
Firstly, I wanted to encourage people to start thinking about Self Care. Self Care is important and we need to think about it. But first…
What is Self Care?
Self Care is NOT selfish! It’s not making excuses to get out of necessities. It’s not hiding from responsibilities. It’s taking responsibility for your own well being and making sure you have the reserves you need to get through the priorities in life. It’s taking an hour out of your day to make sure you can get through the rest of the week.
Self-care is learned, purposeful and continuous. In philosophy, self-care refers to the care and cultivation of self in a comprehensive sense, focusing in particular on the soul and the knowledge of self.* +
* Source Wikipedia.
+ I disagree with the concept of the soul being separate from the body in any way but if you think of the soul as what gives you life (I.e. the electrical impulses that make you think, breathe and move), then you can see where Wikipedia is coming from… Basically, it’s what you need to do to get through life.
It’s important that we teach our children the importance of Self Care but we can only do that if we take time to practise it ourselves.
For different people this means different things but mostly it involves Mindfulness. So…
Mind (the mental health charity in the UK) describes Mindfulness thus:
Mindfulness is a technique which can help people manage their mental health or simply gain more enjoyment from life. It involves making a special effort to give your full attention to what is happening in the present moment – to what’s happening in your body, your mind or your surroundings, for example – in a non-judgemental way. Mindfulness describes a way of approaching our thoughts and feelings so that we become more aware of them and react differently to them.
Mindfulness isn’t meditation in the popular sense of the word. It’s mostly Focussed Thinking.
Meditation in the popular sense is sitting in an uncomfortable position and emptying your mind. I totally disagree with this because of the simple fact that emptying your mind leaves you open to negative thoughts without purpose. Negative thoughts with no purpose are dangerous! Purposeless thinking leads to judgement. And judgement is bad!
Focussed Thinking, on the other hand, is actively thinking about something. It doesn’t always have to be positive. In fact, it can help with negative memories. How? Well, it’s helpful if I give you an example…
Let’s say you have a bad experience while walking the dog and this leaves you with PTSD. You still have to walk the dog but one of the problems with PTSD is realistic re-enactment of memories. This means that you relive the incident and you feel like you’re there. So how can Mindfulness help?
Well, firstly, try and get a course of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT is really good when paired with Mindfulness. Then what you do is while you’re walking the dog (and it’s ok to take someone with you if you need to), when you start to relive the experience, you stop and accept the memory but DON’T JUDGE IT. Then, you look around you and find something to ground you. Things like: Can you hear the wind rushing through the trees? Can you smell the flowers? Can you hear the dog breathing? Can you hear the river? The train that’s just rushing past? You think about all these things and breathe deeply to calm yourself down and rationalise how you’re feeling. What are the chances the same thing will happen again? What are the differences between that day and this? This is where having a trusted friend to come with you for a while to help you get used to Mindfulness. They can talk you through it and help you get through it. It’s also good to get some ABC worksheets. The steps for these sheets are as follows:
- Action/Event – The event that triggered your memory. What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? When was it?
- Your Beliefs – Start with your thoughts and images. What was going through your mind? Then you think about interpretations and what’s the worst that can happen.
- The Consequences – How do you feel? Name your feelings and how intense that feeling was. Any physical sensations? Did your heart race? Did you sweat? And my personal favourite: Did your head feel too heavy for your body? What did you do? What did you want to do?
- Then, when you get home, you sit down and think how you could have handled it better. You challenge your beliefs and how you felt and remind yourself that this isn’t the case. This is why it’s important to have a trusted friend or family member to help you rationalise how you feel.
- Next time you walk the dog, you think about the things you thought about after your last experience. You use the principles of Mindfulness to ground yourself and then keep ‘living in the moment’ until you get to the point where the bad memories don’t come up anymore.
The great thing about Mindfulness is that it’s portable and it works for you. It’s not rigid like a lot of traditional therapies. You can find what calms you and stick to that. And if things change and you discover something else that calms you then that’s okay too.
Mindfulness and Crafting
A lot of people find that crafting mindfully helps with a lot of illnesses. In fact, Betsan Corkhill has written a whole book about Therapeutic Knitting that I’m currently reading. I spoke to Ms Corkhill this week and she sent me her Knitting Equation. There is a website where you can find out more about it.
Ms Corkhill sent me a short biography to use in the blog post.
Betsan Corkhill is the recognised world expert on the use of Therapeutic Knitting for improving health, wellness or managing stress and illness. She has been pioneering the research into the meditative, creative and social benefits of knitting for health and wellbeing since 2005.
She is founder of Stitchlinks (www.stitchlinks.com) – the home of Therapeutic Knitting, and global support network for those who enjoy the therapeutic benefits of craft.
Her background as a physiotherapist, with many years experience, has enabled her to combine her medical knowledge with recent research, study data and stories sent to her by knitters from around the world.
As a passionate advocate for whole-person healthcare, she works as a Wellbeing Coach and has been using Therapeutic Knitting in her clinical practice since 2006.
I’m really enjoying reading the book and I’ll be using some principles from the book during the Craft Along. Whole-person healthcare is vital and Self Care is an important part of this. I’m definitely going to be using some information and quotes from the book during the Craft Along to elaborate on the subject.
For me personally, I find knitting and crochet extremely helpful for my various illnesses. It’s handy when I am too ill to do the food shop with RiverSystem so I sit in the café listening to music, knitting and drinking coffee. It helps with my anxiety because I’m concentrating on knitting and how the yarn feels in my hand and the sound of the music. You will not believe how many nuances and new things you can hear in your favourite song!
So How Will the CAL Work?
Well, it starts on the 15th of September. All you’ll have to do is take an hour out for yourself every day to do something for yourself. It doesn’t have to be anything crafty, it could just be something simple like walking the dog or colouring. As long as you do it mindfully. Take some time to replenish your stores so you can handle the day.
The CAL will last for 28 days so that you can get into the habit of thinking about Self Care and then in January I’ll be starting a Selfless CAL where we think about crafting for others.
Spend the next week or so thinking about what you’d like to do for the CAL. Feel free to blog about it and tell others what you’re doing. I’m going to look into a code you can use to copy the photo above for any blog posts about the CAL. Feel free to link to this blog post in your blogs and tag me in any pictures you share on Instagram (@gifted_goodies) so I can see what you’re up to.
Watch this space for more information on this and also speedy Mindfulness tips!