I find ways throughout the day to perform self-therapy, and it saves me on mental dollars as well as real ones. I have tried a variety of relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation, and I find that I do not currently have the peacefulness and time required to make a go of these. So for now, I have come up with the following list of therapeutic undertakings. In sharing these with other people, I have come to understand that my list will not work for anyone but me. Feel free to comment and share yours; I am always open to ideas!
- Cooking- When the children were growing up, I planned the week’s meals ahead of time and did a giant shopping on Saturday. In and of itself, this was anti-therapy. It was actually torturous, since I am not the most organized person and have little patience for shopping in general. Once the pre-steps were done though, I could enjoy the results. As the children sat and did homework and decompressed by sharing about their school day, I prepared a healthy meal. When I had had a particularly rough day, there was nothing like chopping vegetables violently in the name of caring for my family. Onions, especially, were wonderful since they gave me a good explanation for the tears running down my face (children do NOT want to see their mothers upset, let alone cry). Now I stop at the grocery store almost every day after work to see what is on sale or what I might be in the mood for. Eating what I have created is the best reward!
- Writing- I have tried to keep a journal. That works in spurts and I am inconsistent with it. I used to feel paper/pencil bound, but am now more comfortable composing directly on the computer. However, when I go off to the woods or beach to write, I still take a notebook. Mostly I write short stories or memories. Sometimes I will compose a letter to someone with no intention of ever sending it. My writing is my personal private time; some is designed to share while some is definitely not.
- Photography- I began my interest in taking photos way back when I was in middle school, if not before. I was a regular in the Hunter dark room, which added to the art of simply taking a photo on a roll and then waiting for it to come back. Now I have splurged on a good hobby camera, a Canon EOS, and a couple of lenses. I take my camera with me most places; people-watching has taken on new meaning (it is more like people capturing), and there is not a flower or sunset or bird that is safe from my constant clicking. The therapy comes from looking at the world with an eye for a perfect photo, and from later going through the photos for the gems (thank goodness for digital!) Looking at the world through a photographer’s eye helps me see beauty everywhere.
- Hobbies- I don’t knit, I don’t make jewelry, I don’t paint or draw. Yet. These are all on my list of hobbies for my future, when I envision having less energy to run around photographing the world. I do dabble in star-gazing with a telescope or binoculars when the night sky is clear and crisp, or the moon is particularly spectacular.
- Listening to music- the stereo is always on wherever I am! “Music has Charms to soothe a savage Breast;” thank you William Congreve, who was wise to this back in 1697. On a rough day, I play loud rock on my ride home to chase and keep residual negative thoughts out of my head. There is nothing like 107.1’s Sunday Morning Over Easy program or their “unplugged” acoustic specials to ease into a day. Whatever mood I am in, there is a tune for that. Pandora radio is wonderful- I even use it to play Mozart or Beethoven-style music for my kindergarteners’ rest time after lunch. I also sing along when I am alone. I am pretty sure I am not completely tone deaf and I have gotten up the guts to do karaoke; but in truth it doesn’t matter what I sound like when I am alone. What matters is that it feels great.
Without these moments, I might feel resentment; cheated -no matter how rotten the day, no matter how busy, mini-therapy moments balance me out. There needs to be some joy, some fun, some ME as often as possible.