I recently went on a vacation that I usually find overwhelming. I used two sessions with my therapist to get prepared for the holiday and to come up with some self-care practices to do on my trip.
One thing that stressed me out about this vacation is that it was on a ship, and I get seasick. That means I was either very unwell, somewhat uneasy, or on drugs that make me sleepy. Those were my three options, and I didn’t love any of them.
Some of my favorite vacations are when we rent a place out in the middle of nowhere and spend our days walking in the woods or along the beach– quiet, spacious, leisurely days of sleeping in, reading, doing puzzles, and going on organically arising adventures.
This vacation was a speciality cruise with daily live music, comedy shows, and lots of back-to-back events. Vacations that are busy and high-energy like that can be amazing and elicit a lot of highs, but they can also be hard for me. Sometimes I feel bad that I am not the kind of person that thrives in that type of environment. There is probably no amount of self-care I can do that will make this type of vacation easy and smooth for me. It’s just too stimulating.
Maybe other people can deal with more before they get overwhelmed. I don’t know. Maybe I am a highly sensitive person. Maybe I just have anxiety. Whatever it is, I am starting to understand and accept both that I need to practice consistent, frequent self care AND that I get overwhelmed easily.
I am learning more about what I need in order to feel okay. Hag Stone Journal describes many of the practices I use to feel my most healthy, intact, and emotionally regulated: things like getting enough sleep, taking care of my body, eating the right food, journaling, communing with nature, long walks, being part of a community, trying to make the world better, reading, handicrafts, singing, church, and being with my family.
Some things I might do that aren’t that healthy for me are self-medicating with sugar and caffeine, buying stuff I don’t need because I imagine it is some form of sympathetic magic (maybe if I buy a workout bike I will look like the people in the advertisements), endlessly scrolling on my phone, and eating when I am bored. These things are not terrible, but they are not the best, either. Sometimes endlessly scrolling on my phone is the most convenient option to self-soothe in certain taxing situations. As an introvert, my smart phone allows me to turn inward and try to block out things that might be overstimulating or upsetting me. Going for a walk or reading a book would be better, but that isn’t always an option.
One thing I find that I can turn to– instead of using my phone, snacking, or ruminating– is my journal. With journaling, I am able to do several activities that are known to be positive self-care practices, like making a gratitude list, drawing, creating art, getting to-dos out of my head and onto paper so I don’t have to think about them, envisioning my dreams, having things to look forward to, coloring, designing, exploring my identity, knowing myself by tracking my sleep cycle, and exploring my feelings by writing about them.
I started journaling when I was a young girl. I carried around journals like Harriet the Spy. I picked up bullet journaling a few years ago. I also do the Artist’s Way morning pages, and keep a tarot journal.
When I was emotionally preparing for my cruise vacation, I figured out that one of the self-care practices I was really looking forward to was journaling. I was excited to make time to go back to my state room and sit on my balcony with all my bullet journaling supplies– stickers, colored pencils, markers, pens, glue, scissors– and work on this issue of Hag Stone Journal. I find it very absorbing to use my hands and my head. I feel like the practices I share below calm me and reset me to a healthier space when I am starting to feel like butter spread over too much bread.
If we want to be more capable of seeing the magic and creating the sacred in our daily lives, we need to take care of ourselves.