It’s fair to say I’ve always had a tendency to be a bit of a stress pot. The annus horribilis that was 2015, and the way it affected my wellbeing and (at times) my self-confidence, made me realise I needed to take steps to make small changes to how I manage stress when it lands.
Here are my favourite 10 simple, easy, wholesome pleasures I’ve come to rely on for what I’ve started to call my ‘wellbeing breaks’ – the little things that help me feel mindful, self-aware, relaxed, and ready to take on whatever a busy day (or a stressful situation) might hold. Such things are inevitably quite personal – what works for me won’t be everyone’s cup of hot lemon – but maybe they’ll prompt ideas about what your go-to wellbeing breaks might be:
- A train journey, spent mainly looking out the window at the loveliness. If the train is delayed, I make an extra effort with my window reverie, noticing the trees/people/whatever London landmark happens to be passing, to minimise the stress of worrying about whatever meeting I’m late for – focussing on enjoying the moment, which is what I can control (Southern Railway, I cannot control…sadly).
- Podcasts! A recent discovery for me. Where have you been all my life?! These are especially lovely when paired with (1).
- The Desert Island Discs archive. Bit of a cheat as it’s a subset of (2) but it merits its own slot. What a treasure chest of insights – into the castaways, into bygone eras, and into how people construct narratives to make sense of their experiences.
- Walking slowly. This makes me more aware of my breathing, and slows it down. Double win.
- Singing along loudly to Adele in the car, with my toddler joining in with the spontaneous, unanalysing joy that only a child knows. Precious.
- Watching the world go by – the rhythm of life – from the window of a café, hands wrapped round a cup of good coffee. Or a cup of hot lemon-y water, which is how I always start my day.
- Not rushing the washing (I’ll write a separate blog post post all about this) – hanging clothes up on the washing line in the fresh (ahem, ‘London fresh’) air, in my garden.
- Writing a letter – even a short one – to a dear old friend. It always feels lovely.
- Making soup, especially with colourful veggies (I like carrot, sweet potato and parsnip) and lovely warming spices (turmeric, cinnamon, and ginger).
- Acupuncture. Ok, so not exactly simple and easy as I’m not an acupuncturist (obv). But I love, love acupuncture and it has been especially powerful for me in the last few months as I recovered from my most recent miscarriage. I have acupuncture with the lovely Lilja Katanka at a wonderful haven of peace and tranquility in Crystal Palace called The Little Escape – I heartily recommend both Lilja and the Little Escape for any readers in South London looking for a bit of TLC in the form of holistic, alternative therapies in a really lovely setting.