Last week, I wrote a blog titled Endurance, which seemed to resonate with folk in ways I didn’t anticipate… meaning it got read, shared and commented on far more than anything I’ve published in the last few years. It made me think there’s something more to consider in the space of enduring, being resilient and making our way through the darker months well…so then the question of the week for me became about how we Nourish ourselves.
In order to endure, to be resilient etc, I figure there has to be a source of energy we can draw on… and if everyone is running around depleted, that energy source can’t reliably (or fairly) be pulled from others – some of it has to be self-generated… which means, we have to nourish ourselves practically, emotionally, physically, in the coming months…THEN we can share our nourished selves around, so others are nourished and they can share and….on and on it will grow.
And…I’m thinking about how we do this cheaply, easily – so being nourished is not a privilege thing, it’s a Universal Access thing, a Human thing.
(and as I write this I’m fully aware of the political wrangling in the UK over the need to nourish our poorest kids. I’m not getting into that here, particularly, but Marcus Rashford’s Twitter feed and the outpouring of generosity this week has felt nourishing on a number of levels and sort-of proves the point that kindness and big-heartedness are generative, not finite)
As is so often the case when I am sort-of ruminating on a puzzle, I’ve found myself noticing stuff on nourishing our internal capacity, energy and ability to “continue kindly” through all of this… ways to support ourselves…so I thought I’d share a few things that have piqued my interest.
One source in particular is Dr Brené Brown’s Unlocking Us podcast ( posted on 23rd September) where she talks about three things on her mind. The whole podcast has merit as Dr Brown reflects on the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg and the importance of legal dissents in the US Legal system ( and beyond). The next section is on an article entitled “Your “Surge Capacity” is Depleted – It’s why you feel awful” – which deals with ambiguous loss and some of the aspects of coping with long-term disaster
But it is the third section, the one on “Play” that really got my attention. Quoting from Stuart Brown from the National Institute of Play (see Ted talk here) comes the assertion that “the opposite of play is not work, the opposite of play is depression”. Neuroscience and social science repeatedly evidence that “Play” lights up our brains, renews our sense of excitement in life – energises us…. So if we are to endure, to get through all of this… play seems to be one way to re-energise and help us continue.
Something about that invitation disturbs me. Play? Now? Are you kidding me? How can I play when the world’s gone mad? Is this not indulgent, unimportant nonsense? And also… I’m not sure I’m naturally playful… I’m all grown up and serious… I can be task focussed, on-purpose… I like a clipboard of stuff to tick off and I’m horribly badly organised at times, which means playing around just frustrates me…
But Brené Brown seems to make an invitation around Play, which feels more connected to something I can work with.. more nourishing…she asks that we identify:
Time spent without purpose
Activities where you lose track of time
Activities where you feel free and uninhibited.
Her own list includes things like “Alone time, riding my bicycle, fun TV” – all of which resonated for me… and so I spent some time, identifying some of the “play” activities I already have in my life…Even taking time to think about these, made me feel better… even dwelling on nourishment, instead of how depleted I feel, made me feel more nourished…
And I was going to share my list here.. but then as I wrote it out, it became less nourishing, more curated “here – look at my list”… and my list won’t be your list…and your list is important…and not to be judged. You might value time knitting socks or playing Xbox, sweeping the back yard, washing your bike, kicking a football, star gazing, playing exploding kittens (other card games are available)… these are your sources of nourishment and it feels like knowing these might be kind of important right now… so after this, go wander about your house or out for a walk and just think about the things that replenish you – things that require nothing more from you than you show up and potter. Things that make you feel free.
Another source of interest was returning to the Danish notion of Hygge (in the authentic sense, not in the “force yourself cozy under a £150 blanket you bought because you are certain THIS ONE will relax you”). It’s defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being” and going back to paying attention to when I feel cosy and cared for – those small things like hot chocolate or cuddling in to watch TV in thick socks – means I have a sense of nourishment and things-are-well-in-the-world which can counteract the chaos long enough to strengthen me.
So play for a bit and then rest within yourself. Treat yourself as the precious and beautiful thing that you are and be well – you have it in you to get through this and many, many other things besides.
Keep nourished. Endure.