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What to do after spending 2+ hours scrolling on social media text on photograph of rose garden, soft focus, 2 pink roses on bottom left in focus

Have you ever looked up from your device and wondered where the last hour (or two, or more) of your life went?

Wondered who spitefully replaced your spine with a series of inflexible sticks and how they managed it?

Felt sick from all the information and stimulation you’d taken in and despite all those ‘DIY’, ‘5 Easy Steps to Fabulous’ * articles, you still felt absolutely confused about where to begin or go from here?

Have you then, actually, just collapsed further, because it turns out, binge watching/scrolling may have it’s own health risks that just aren’t printed on the side of the packet.

I have been there my dears, This used to happen to me all.the.time.

(I mean, there’s a reason I quit my smartphone and smart devices)

It generally happened when I was extra sick, or in a flare.  I felt like being in my body, close to the symptoms, feeling it all, was just intolerable. My iPhone was easy, distracting. It took me out body for a time and that gave me a break from pain I didn’t know how to handle or bear.

This is not another quit your iPhone or Facebook article** in fact, today I’d like to talk to you not about how to prevent the internet hangover (I have a great interview with the founder of Digital Detox, Brooke about conscious internet use here  and self-care maven Mara Glatzel on finding true restoration and avoiding ‘junk food rest’ here.)

Instead, I want to talk about what to do once you realise that you got hooked in. Where do we go from the post-screen malaise?

For so many reasons, throughout our day, we can find ourselves constricted, disembodied and struggling with symptoms that perhaps, maybe, we don’t have to.

So how do we re-calibrate and re-set?

After those moments of mindfulness, when we come back to ourselves and realise we are not in a position we want to be in, what happens next?

I have been inspired by this interactive self-care guide (NSFW) and I have discovered the more pain I am in and the more under-resourced, dissociated and/or disembodied I am, the more likely I am to pursue more and more complex, new, likely expensive solutions/management strategies.

These are also increasingly likely to be things outside myself or my networks, involving people/products I am not familiar with and buy on impulse in increasing frustration, self-doubt and self-recrimination.

At this point, I have flipped into cure seeking (something we talk about navigating in The Phoenix Fire Academy) and I am not making conscious choices.

In this state, if I had the option between say:

A) Sitting up, supported by pillows, drinking some water and listening to a favourite audio book for 20 minutes

Or

B) Signing up for a 40-week healing course that I can’t even finish reading the sales page for but just KNOW I need and am sure I can do.

(And look at all those people who used to be sick like me and are now totally cured with just 10 easy payments of $99.99.)

Guess which one I would choose? Just guess.

This is how, some years ago, I was stuck in bed one day and a delivery person called in the open window and asked where he should put the delivery…

“Hi, my carer is out and I’m sick in bed, I can’t get up. Can you leave it on the doorstep, please?”.

“I can’t love, it’s too big”.

“Uh, ok…that’s weird. What have I ordered recently? Um, can you leave it in the garden then, please?”

“Look love, it’s a delivery pallet, it’s come on a fork lift truck, I can’t get it near your house”

OMG exactly how big was that Goddess statue I cure-seeking-binge-bought on eBay!?!

To set your mind at rest, it was actually our wholesale food cooperative delivery that arrived on the wrong day. The goddess statue arrived and fitted in the palm of my hand. But I had to wait until my carer came home to discover this and spent hours lying in bed trying to work out how I was going to explain a 10-foot goddess statue blocking the road to the local council (apparition? visitation? notify the Vatican?).

But just think, if it had been that size, what a bargain, eh?

So, my attempts to cure myself with pagan idols*** aside what simple, accessible things can we do to re-set when we find ourselves stuck?

This isn’t something with a simple answer I can give you, but I can give you some ideas and a framework to support you in making your own tailored plan.

You might have noticed this is a theme in my teaching; in my ebook and audiobook Beyond the Boundaries, I guide you through creating your own Limits Liberation Plan for living a fulfilling life from bed/home.

And in my flagship programme, The Phoenix Fire Academy I support you in crafting a tailored Healing Blueprint for living well with health challenges now and going forward. That’s because I don’t believe in assuming what’s worked for me will work for you but I do believe in empowering and resourcing you to explore what’s right for you in a sustainable, conscious way.

So, I made a downloadable ebooklet for us to create self-care check-in plans. Let’s do our future selves a favour and make the plan now.

Check out the by-donation downloadable PDF below. It’s open pricing (so you decide what feels fair and possible to pay). I’d love it if you check it out and let me know what you think!

And feel free to share your self-care plan in the comments! 

Creating Our Trailblazing Self-Care Check-In Catalog

 

* Not to do these articles an injustice, I have found them useful, written them myself but my point here is that there is often a web-time-warp we can get caught in, endlessly consuming information but too stuck/tired/disembodied to take action.

** although these can be very valuable and have their place, but right now I’m focusing on how we can take care of ourselves once we have been caught up. This is, I believe an important self-care activity along side prevention.

*** nothing against pagan idols, but speaking for a more balanced alternative to a healing plan. Although if faith is part of your healing/wellness practice, as it is mine, that can be wonderful if it’s right for you.

Trail Blazing Times and How To Turn Trail Blazer E-Book

Gratitude and Grace List: Start of Term edition. Including myth, magic, kicking kyriarchy, lavish literary reads and sequin appreciation

Inspired by my dear friend Gala Darling, I’m taking my love lists out of my (gold, sparkly) journal and sharing them with you.

Little Things I Love:

I am beginning my last taught term at college (I’m studying psychotherapeutic counselling). I have been deep in essays, clinical placement and I’m still there. But it was lovely to have an easter break, to paint, to write, to sleeeep.

Here are some of the things I am enjoying right now:

Listening to BBC Radio 4 * My new journal, which is marbled and sparkly! * Not having a smartphone – it’s my 3rd month and I am feeling only relief and gratitude at this point – also, for my privilage of being able to choose to go smartphone free * Seeing the apple tree getting even more beautiful with a mist of green leaves, buds and spring-time gloriousness * The poems of Rilke * Finding stacks of my favourite books in a charity shop * My sequined cardigan * My red vegan boots * Daffodils – in the garden, on my table, the scent * Seeing violets in the woods * Working on my dissertation – so exciting! * Painting with watercolours * Planning my birthday retreat and celebrations! * Seeing moorhens building their secret nests on the lakes * rose, turmeric and cacao tea * learning rag time on the harp * Self-compassion week in the Trailblazers’ Cafe *

Continue Reading Gratitude & Grace List: Start of Term Edition

Trail Blazing Times and How To Turn Trail Blazer E-Book

Dear Grace Q & A: How do I cope with anxiety/triggers when I'm in public? Text above out of focus photo of forest. Below photograph of older black woman with red hair hugging a younger black woman to her.

Dear Grace Q &A: what can I do if I’m outside my home, like shopping or working and I have anxiety? If I encounter a painful/difficult situation or I have an intrusive thought or memory that throws me off balance? I can’t use my usual tools like meditating or grounding exercises and I’m stuck on how to handle this.

I really hear you, my dear. On how difficult it is to cope with these difficulties when out and about. When you are in an environment you can’t control or make healing choices that fit you, it’s tough to handle these difficulties like anxiety, triggers or painful memories.

N.B: What I am hearing in this question is how to handle triggers, including for anxiety. And while this is a larger question, and my answer can’t constitute medical advice, I can give my opinion on options that might be available/useful. I am addressing interpersonal difficulties here rather than micro-agressions from systemic prejudice like racism, transphobia, disablism, sexism, homophobia and similar. While all too often these are at the root of the interactions that wound and wear on us daily, they are more indepth and nuanced than I can address in this single blog.

When we encounter someone/thing that throws us, several things might be happening. Our boundaries might have been crossed, we could be feeling shaken, our feelings could be hurt or overwhelming. The situation could also be triggering a mental/emotional/sensory flashback.

All these things can, I believe, be handled, but they can be handled differently. I think it’s important to break it down as it explains why something so ‘small’ can actually be really, really big.

In the case of boundaries being crossed, I think a very helpful thing to do is to get to safety as much as possible.

This might mean calling a friend who is safe, moving to another area, leaving the rude person or situation etc.

Sometimes we don’t realise a boundary has been breached until a lot later. That’s totally understandable, at that point, we can still take action to make ourselves as safe as we can. To reassure and comfort ourselves.

Sometimes it can be as small as stepping away to ‘take a phone call’ and leaving a message with a friend, or going to the bathroom to doing a breathing exercise, journal, listen to music, read a few pages of a favourite book you carry in your bag or similar.

If feelings are overwhelming, taking care of ourselves is paramount.

Read: How to cope with emotional overwhelm

If we have been triggered or flashback, then it can be helpful to come back to the present if that’s possible and safe.

Things like counting all the blue objects in a room, or the ceiling tiles or floor tiles, or noticing where we are now and what’s present in this situation for all our senses, can help bring us back.

So can things like gripping the chair we are sitting on, flexing our feet/legs or hands, if that’s possible. Rocking a little or wiggling bottom on the chair can be very grounding…

In terms of a memory emerging that we have trouble coping with, it can be useful to contain the memory safely, without trying to push it down into ourselves.

Remember the Pensive in Harry Potter? Can a journal be a Pensive? Can a note titled Pensive on your smartphone contain the memory for now, and hold it until you are in a safe, held place to process it? Can you take a selfie of that moment and let the camera contain what’s happening. To witness it for you. And then you can still be able to be in the present and get yourself safe?

One thing that can be useful is to have a more extensive grounding ritual and then each time you practice it, have a small movement that feels like the beginning/completion.

Say, you might begin by putting your hand on your belly and taking a breath. Then the whole grounding ritual could unfold as you need e.g body scan, mindfulness, rooted visualisation. You could end the ritual with the same small gesture.

This then becomes something very evocative of the overall grounding. And it’s such a small movement that you could potentially do it in any situation, using it as a helpful association to bring the sensation of grounding to the fore.

Another option is to use an anchor. Often my clients have used a photo on their phone, or a piece of jewellery they always wear, as something that symbolises the now, comfort and stability.

If triggered they focus on it – it’s very discreet, just looking at your phone, you can have an ‘anchor album’ of photos on phone – and looking at the picture, thinking about the senses, the love for the image…it could be a landscape you feel safe in, a safe space in your home, picture of a nest, picture of a loved one or animal.

It’s an anchor if triggered/spiralling thoughts, to help bring you back.

How do you take care of yourself in challenging situations? Let me know in the comments. 

P.S You might also like Dear Grace Q & A: How do I explain that my chronic illness and life aren’t a tragedy? and Dear Grace Q & A: 7 steps to your business come back after chronic illness. Read all the Dear Grace columns here.

Trail Blazing Times and How To Turn Trail Blazer E-Book

Be flare prepared: how to make a flare kit for 'bad' days text over photo of asian woman surrounded by orange flare smoke.

That moment when you wake up and the pain hits you over the head with a hammer? Flare day.

The time when you can’t sleep at.all because of pain/fever/anxiety/all of the above? Flare day.

When the difficulties you deal with day to day just mushroom into impossibility? Flare day.

When living with chronic illness, disability, mental or physical, visible or invisible, we have days that are worse than others. The ‘bad’ days, the days when symptoms are stronger and strength is sapped. We all experience them, but how do we handle them?

What’s a Flare Kit?

We want so much to be well that we often don’t prep, so a difficult or ‘bad’ day happens and we have to start from scratch. To remember ‘what am I supposed to do when this happens again?’ ‘Where are the extra strong pain meds and the big heating pad?’

It’s almost like the focus on wellness prevents us prepping for difficult times. Is it fear that if we prepare for bad things, they’ll somehow happen? Are we just avoiding prepping for times we don’t want to experience? I’ve struggled with this myself, but I have learned, running 2 businesses with chronic illness, that prepping for painful times is essential. 

Michelle of Bombchelle.com is a system (and all around) goddess, from whom I’ve learned the golden rule of systems: if you do it regularly, write it down.

Take x medicine for y challenge at z dosage stocked at a chemist –> Write it down in your planner.

Use 3 recipes regularly when sick because they are easy to throw together and digest? –> Make a note of those in your self-care kit.

Finding you try a combination of tools, tricks, meds and magic when struggling? –> Get that into a flowchart and keep it in your self-care box.

Continue Reading Be Flare Prepared: How to Make a Flare Kit for ‘Bad’ Days

Trail Blazing Times and How To Turn Trail Blazer E-Book

February Trailblazing Resources: Fuel for Your Healing Fire white text on photo of a bonfire at night, distant trees shown behind against the sky, sparks flying in the night air. Text at bottom in white: gracequantock.com

The best of the wellness internet. Lovingly curated trailblazing healing resources for fun and wellness fabulousness to fuel your healing fire. Relax and dive in!

My favourite trailblazing healing resources, inspirations, proclamation and motivation this month.

How to support your disabled friends in winter and beyond.

Also: winter magic and herbs for support ourselves through the darker, colder times. I’m celebrating spring on the way with snowdrops, birdsong, trees budding and even violets and primroses emerging. But still – the ground is icy, it’s snowing intermittently and still feels a lot like winter here. I’m supporting my body accordingly.

Do you recognise a biopsychosocial model in illness? This is a new term to me and I’m still exploring it, but I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mindfulness can be misused by medicalisation and individualisation of health struggles. I love and adore mindfulness and that’s why I believe we need to guard it carefully against misuse.

Continue Reading February Trailblazing Resources: Fuel for Your Healing Fire

Trail Blazing Times and How To Turn Trail Blazer E-Book

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