Feeding Your Soul
by anna issacson and hannah barrett
Find your soul food and eat up!
We often talk about how important it is to feed your soul by doing what you love; how important it is to learn to shift focus from required projects to passion projects. I am not here to tell you to quit your job. But if you find that the two don’t align- well, maybe you should quit your job.
The bottom line is, it is time to make time for the things that feed your soul. It’s these things that bring meaning to life; it’s not the grade you’re worried about or that job you roll out of bed for in the morning. It is the note you left your friend after a bad day. It is a quiet cup of coffee to yourself in the morning. It is a skincare routine you’ve come to look forward to. It is hiking. Or swimming. Or Karate. Or napping. Or a moment of doing nothing at all.
It’s those things that- after doing them- you feel peace. A sense of accomplishment and a moment of clarity.
We need to chase these feelings as long as we know how to.
But how do we actually apply this to our everyday life? I am learning how. Small changes = big differences.
Digest some of our favorite soul food:
Writing- I like to think of writing as self therapy. It cannot be overstated just how much taking time to write -to force yourself into a state of reflection- can benefit you and your state of mind. Whenever I feel as though my mental health needs some calibrating, the first question I ask myself is ‘when was the last time you wrote?’ If I cannot remember, I know what to do. Pick up a journal. Pen. Vomit my chaotic thoughts into clarity. Afterwards, I feel peace.
Find a routine to look forward to- I have recently started a new, stressful job. It is challenging in a good way, but challenging nonetheless. Since beginning, I have started a nighttime routine I so look forward to, and I know that going to sleep feeling accomplished but relaxed is one of the ways I ensure I don’t bring today’s stress into tomorrow.
The routine itself: A ridiculously long skincare routine- I’m talking masks, moisturizers, overnight treatments- the whole nine yards. Then, I fill up a big glass of water. I put something on Netflix- usually The Office. (Background noise quiets my mind.) And lastly, I light some candles- even if only for five minutes. This concoction of self care helps to melt the day away, and as soon as I feel tiredness sink into me, I blow out the candles. Since this new routine, I have slept well and through the night, every night. And I wake up on a day that feels genuinely new; the weight of any old stress has burned off.
Reading- I used to read for pleasure often, but after reading became associated with sources and research and papers and all other things University, I left that hobby behind. Lately, I have picked it back up, and I am glad I have! There are so many books. There are so many stories, and lessons, and heartaches, and triumphs worth knowing about and worth dreaming about. It is important to live other people’s art, and reading gives you an opportunity to do just that. It also gives you a chance to shut off your own story and become a part of someone else’s for a while.
Gardening- or anything that can gift you quality time with sweat and Vitamin D. I learned a while ago that if I don’t incorporate work into a routine of self care then I feel a lack of purpose and drive and that is vital in self care. A basic human need is to actually feel needed. Even if it’s by your strawberry bushes! I recently moved into a home of an avid gardening couple, so my green thumb has been pushed and growing. Being able to sink my fingers into soil and give nurture to actual life has been a healing process. The refreshment of standing up after working for an hour, with all of the worms and the grime that come with the job, is a feeling unmatched.
Walking- This has been another perk of moving in with the aforementioned power couple. I’m constantly walking their dog, not because she doesn’t get enough walks in, but because it’s become so enjoyable. I walk this pupper in the morning, in the evening, sometimes both, and I notice new benefits every time. First of all, how great is walking? I think the best part is it’s not running? I’m the opposite of a runner, I truly do hate it. I’ve given it a good try and it’s not for me. Walking though, how great?! I could walk forever! Take in all the views at an average pace, breath like a normal person, and even take detours because who cares about mileage if you’re not working out! Secondly, I’ve gotten to have acquaintance with so many neighbors! I get invited to things now! Our pup, Joy, even gets to make friends. It’s truly a social win. Lastly, I can literally stop and smell the flowers. And how good is that for your soul. On top of endorphins and social interaction, the soul fill of time is so beautiful. Sometimes I stop just to look at a cool mental picture. Whatever! My walk! No rules!
Pottery- AKA being intentional about your passions. Obviously this one is harder to do because time is a real thing that we usually don’t have. But honestly, I do my own pottery once every week and a half. That’s not a ton of time! But I freaking do it because I freaking want to and it is really good to me. I’m realizing that the more time I spend doing something that opens up my creative mind and outlets all of the ideas I’ve had and set aside for a later time, is a true release that makes room for more things. When I’m intentionally scheduling time to do something that I actually care about, I have room in my heart to be a space of release for others and both of these things feed your soul.
You never ever have to look yourself in the mirror and say, “Be BETTER.” You are trying! You are doing what you can! Be an ally to your soul, your body, your mind, and say, “here are spaces where we can thrive together.” Gift these spaces to yourself, I promise you deserve it, it’s not easy out here! It’s so easy to reprimand ourselves. I even reprimand myself when I don’t incorporate enough self care time into my schedule! How silly! We are fragile beings, who endure a lot, and need much grace. Be the first to hold yourself accountable, and the first to give yourself grace. It’s easier to love the world around you when you make space for love inside of your being. And we all know the world could use more love!