After talking about all of the meditative things I had been enjoying discovering over the past year, my therapist helped me pinpoint the feeling I had been searching to achieve. She called it being “Still by Choice.”
“Still by Choice” is not a reward. It is as essential as brushing your teeth or charging your phone. She explained to me that just as we wouldn’t forget to charge our phones each day, we shouldn’t forget to charge our own reserves. Being “Still by Choice” is basically a simple mindfulness practice. And just like many mindfulness practices, it doesn’t have to take forever. Little breaks of 10-15 minutes a couple times a day will do the trick. She explained that it is important to practice “Still by Choice” while it is still a choice. Nowadays it is very common to experience severe burnout. Life has become so stressful and complicated that we often forget to allow ourselves the space to even think. When we get to the point of burnout and severe anxiety or depression, it is no longer a choice to be still. We become frozen in our overwhelm and therefore become still by force. Choosing to consistently practice giving ourselves times of quiet will help us refill our reserves and help us be more resilient to the daily stressors of life.
You can practice “Still by Choice” in any meditative way that you prefer, but here are some things I do that I really enjoy (some of them are shorter and some of them can be more extended):
- Diffusing essential oils. Some of my favorite essential oils are citrus (orange, lime, grapefruit) or minty (peppermint, spearmint, eucalyptus). Aromatherapy has been around for forever and for good reason. This is a whole blog post in itself, so I will write on this in the future.
- Writing in my Bullet Journal. There is something so calming about physically putting a pen to paper. It is very similar to doodling or coloring for anxiety. The lack of a screen helps to avoid distractions and for some reason physically writing things down helps me to process them more easily.
- Massaging my feet with coconut oil (and vetiver essential oil). This is a great self care basic. Our feet are the foundations of our bodies and take the (literal) weight of our burdens every day. They support us everywhere that we go. Unfortunately these hardworkers often get forgotten. Massaging them with oil or lotion not only gives a calming activity, but will help soften them and refresh them so they can serve us in the future.
- Practicing Calligraphy. I have horrible handwriting. Like really bad. Like whenever I give someone a list they usually say they have no idea what it says. However, I am not too bad at calligraphy. I think the reason why is because Calligraphy is more of an exercise of drawing shapes rather than just writing words. It is an expressive art form. Similar to the Bullet Journal, calligraphy practice offers a great physical pen to paper experience.
- Making myself a steamy hot drink. Making a matcha latte is one of my favorite things to do. I have a little milk steamer that I have had for literally over 5 years. I usually put coconut milk or other non-dairy milk in it and let it work while I am warming the hot water. I use a traditional bamboo matcha whisk to froth the matcha powder into the water—it creates a beautiful foam froth.
- Doing family history. I often get pulled into this one for extended periods of time because I love learning about my heritage. It helps me feel connected to my past and encourages me to appreciate where I have come from. Ancestry.com is a great resource to get started with this.
- Read a book by a lit candle. Just make sure not to burn the house down! No, seriously. I have a horrible tendency to forget burning candles, so I usually only let myself enjoy a candle while reading a book. That way I don’t forget to blow out the candles since I always blow them out when I close the book. My favorite is the Capri Blue Volcano candle.
- Listen to an audiobook. I usually try to avoid all things Amazon, but Audible can be good resource. I most often purchase audiobooks from Google Play or discover new ones at the library. Listening is to an audiobook is a good one for doing double duty for “Still by choice” since I can usually listen to something and either enjoy a drink or eat a chocolate at the same time.
- Savor a really good piece of chocolate. Speaking of chocolate, here we are. I really like going to my local grocery store and discovering different artisanal chocolates. It is a nice treat and there are so many different types of chocolate out there
- Smudging with palo santo wood, dried sage, or frankincense resin. Many religions for millennia have used incense to offer prayer, invite positive energy, or to show gratitude. Not only does it smell good, but I like to take my time watching the smoke travel up and imagine a sense of gratitude and love filling my room.
Many of the things I practice for “Still by Choice” are similar to the act of practicing Hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga”), the Danish lifestyle of using simple pleasures to invite feelings of warm and well-being into your home. If you want to learn about Hygge and how it helps the Danish be some of the happiest people in the world, I recommend checking out The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living by Meik Wiking.
Practicing “Still by Choice” for at least a couple minutes a couple times a day has been incredibly invigorating. It’s surprising how giving yourself even just a couple minutes to breathe can help you reset and fill your energy for the rest of the day.
Be well and stay safe.