I’ve been trying to troubleshoot my soul lately. It’s been battered and bruised one too many times.
We take care of our bodies when we’re physically ill, do we not? Why don’t we do the same with our minds? Our hearts? Our souls? Why don’t we give them the same care that we would for physical illness?
The other day I started to come down with a cold. My children had already had it, and I knew what was coming for me. So I started eating one orange after another. And I took a few extra immune-boosting vitamins. I made myself an herbal tea. I smudged the whole house for its cleansing benefits. I turned on every Himalayan salt lamp in my home. I ate healthy foods and sanitized the house. I took care of my initial symptoms like it was my job to do it!
But when I start to feel sad or deeply weary about my life, I don’t seem to rush around trying to ward off depression or anxiety or even general melancholy.
But what if we did?
So I’ve been formulating a plan, thinking of all the things that nourish my soul. What are the things that make us feel whole and healthy at a deep soul level? It will differ for everyone. Figuring out what those things are and how we can incorporate them into our lives as regularly as we do our daily vitamin and eight glasses of water is essential to begin to truly take care of ourselves in a holistic sense. That body/mind connection is so strong that doing so can only serve to improve our physical health as well.
For me, soul-nourishing things are often linked to beauty. Art, music, and dance all make my heart swell with joy.
So that gives me a range of options: concerts, ballet, theatrical performances, and museums. I would also add laughter to that, so add in comedy clubs. Then I remember that nature makes me feel deeply contented and balanced, so I could add in a trip to a park or going on a hike.
But we can’t always just go, go, go.
I’m a single mom of two. I can neither afford to do every single thing I love nor do I have the time. However, I can learn about art from the comfort of my home with books and videos. I can listen to soul-touching music. I can dance around my own home when I clean or watch a film about dance.
I can turn on “The Golden Girls” or “Grace and Frankie” to get a few laughs in. I can walk in my town, even taking my kids with me. There are so many ways that I can feed my unique soul, and I imagine that if we all think of what enriches us individually, we can all do the same.
When it comes to troubleshooting, I often think about the advice computer techs often give me. Well, the first one is always a tad bit insulting: “Is it plugged in?” Let’s assume our souls are plugged in, and we’re aware of the need to nurture them. The other standard tech advice is this: “Just turn it off and turn it back on.”
Perhaps what we sometimes need is a break. A chance to shut ourselves down and try again later. That may be in the form of taking long naps or simply turning off our phones for a bit and recharging. Maybe all we need is a quick reboot so we can feel a little better.
Recently, I took a reboot in the form of a yoga class. A local studio was offering a winter solstice session that promised to be candlelit with Christmas music. As an added bonus, it was a free session for the community.
Of course, I don’t think I quite realized that it was going to be hot yoga, but still, my stress melted away. It felt like it literally melted away, given the temperature. We did 100 sun salutations and eight moon salutations, and the promised Christmas carols played softly in the background. Candles flickered from every corner of the room, and at the very end, staff members placed cold, wet towels on our heated foreheads, scented with lavender.
My whole body seemed to sigh. It was a reboot that fit my current budget (free), and it allowed me a little space to meet new people, do yoga for exercise, and have a little meditation time. My children happily played with a new babysitter while I got some much-needed peace of mind.
There’s no need to over-think how we troubleshoot our souls. What’s important is that we determine what it is that makes our souls soar.
What are the unique things that make us feel a little more enriched in this life? When we figure that out, the next question is how we can incorporate these ideas into our lives more regularly so that we take better care of our whole selves. Then, it’s simply about making this a priority and working it in.
The day I took the yoga class was brutal. It was just one of those awful days, which made me glad it was the shortest day of the year. After I rebooted myself in the class, I chose to treat myself to a small piece of ethically-sourced dark chocolate with bits of sea salt and caramel in it. Then I took a long, hot bath where I started a new book. I gave myself yoga, chocolate, and literature that night because it was doable, and it made my soul feel better.
On another day, the answer might be different because what I need may change. But I keep thinking how I rushed around my home trying to ward off a cold that I knew was coming, and I wonder why I don’t take more of a proactive approach to keeping my heart, mind, and soul equally as strong and healthy.
I know that I’ll have to be careful not to overdo it and add an additional stress factor to my life. It’s always possible to try too hard and exhaust ourselves in the process. But if we think of a few gentle ways to give ourselves more holistic care, I think it would be worth it.
Can you see it now? We are rested, rejuvenated, restored. Still can’t see it? Try turning it off and turning it back on again.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends 52 Ways to Live a Kick-Ass Life: BS-Free Wisdom to Ignite Your Inner Badass and Live the Life You Deserve.
Sip a little more: