The Survival Kit

Calm: Calm the Mind. Change the World by Michael Acton Smith

Whenever we go through a tough time or crisis, we need things that are comforting and familiar. 

One very helpful suggestion I found a few years ago was to keep a running list of things that bring joy, comfort and calm to you. As soon as I noticed something that made me feel better in any way I wrote it down. 

We need this list for future moments when we feel low, tired or in need of an instant pick me up, which is usually when we don’t have the brain power or energy to work out what to do. We can just pull out the list, take a quick look and choose what takes our fancy. 

Having a varied and specific list of activities is preferable depending on how much time you have to do the activity in that moment, for example something that could take a few minutes or the entire afternoon. Preferably they should be activities that take very little preparation or resources.

Here are some suggestions of what to put on your list. Experience and make it unique to your own preferences! What might work for me, may not work for you and vice versa. 

  • Watch your favourite movie or tv show
  • Spend time in nature or a garden
  • Call a friend or family for a chat
  • Do something you loved when you were younger
  • Read or listen to your favourite book
  • Meditative activities – guided meditation, breathing exercises or stillness 
  • Get clean – shower, wash your hair, put on fresh clothes 
  • Make a cup of tea and take a mindful moment to listen to the kettle boil
  • Bask in the sunshine or breathe in the rain
  • Have a nap
  • Look at the night sky, moon and stars
  • Gentle walk or exercise
  • Local playground swings
  • Watch comedy
  • Put on some music and move, dance or sing if you can
  • Cloud and bird watch 
  • Gentle massage
  • Create a playlist of uplifting or relaxing music
  • Play with pets or animals
  • Sit by a pond or lake, watch the water and feed the ducks
  • Be creative – paint, draw, sew, build, music, play!
  • Journal
  • Watch the sunrise and sunset
  • Disconnect – time out from news, social media and screens

When you have an overarching activity, such as indulging in your favourite book or movie, write down specific names to speed up the choice and avoid decision fatigue, for example read The Secret Garden or watch The Office.  

Writing down a list also acted as a project where I grew in awareness of what I really enjoyed, and of what I did out of convenience which was not enriching how I was feeling. More on that later!

Nurturing ourselves with familiar and enriching activities that restore our energy is what keeps us afloat when everything around us is uncertain, rough and stormy. Having an idea list of activities are the life buoys we grab onto in a hurry until we feel ready to go again.

Take heart Readers, I’ll keep the light on.

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