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3 tactile ways to improve your wellbeing

Easy ways to manage your mental health and physical wellbeing through these trying times

issue eleven : tactile colour

You may have noticed some serious radio silence on the virtual pages of Untainted these past few months. This, of course, was not my intention…my intention was to provide you with an issue of wild and unapologetic colour. Instead, like all of you, I have been trying to find my way through a global pandemic and deepen my understanding of unlived experiences in order to become a better ally. 

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry

Robert Burns

None the less, this pause has given me time to reflect on something I do not allocate a huge amount of personal time and effort too. My own mental health and wellbeing. I’ve even gone so far as to deleted the Instagram app from my phone to give me some head and heart space. I have been incredibly fortunate in my life with regards to my mental health. This is of course not to say that I have not experienced bouts of depression or anxiety in my lifetime, but for the most part, they have been pretty mild and manageable without intervention. 

A vivid memory

When I was about 17, I went to go live with my dad. He lived in one of the most beautiful parts of Cape Town and my new bedroom window looked out onto a lush and plentiful garden. The front porch had an uninterrupted view of the ocean and the garden had its own private spring that bubbled away leaving the lawn exuberant. It was idyllic…but it’s easy to forget the effortlessness of youth and I was going through my first experience with depression. It was brought on by a perfect storm or teenagedom, boredom, hormones and heartbreak…which caused me to stop sleeping, which in turn manifested itself in me as depression.

Not coming from a family – or time – when therapists were considered a resource, I went to see my GP who recommended some mild sleeping tablets to help reset my sleep patterns. It’s only upon looking back at that period of darkness and many talks with friends and colleagues about their own mental health troubles that I even know that it was depression. 

Months before moving in with my dad, a huge fire ravaged the hillside behind his home. The ground was charred to carbon. I had a whole garden to enjoy, but I found solace up in the nothingness…I would sit there for hours crying, thinking and staring off into the void. I lose track of how long this period really was…but at the time it felt like an eternity.

One afternoon, while sitting in my favourite spot, I noticed a single blade of grass, a bright, vivid green appearing from the blackness. In that moment, inspired by natures teachings, I knew that I too would be okay. I too could explode with colour and joy once more.

A global pandemic, a growing movement and a collapsing climate

I don’t know anyone who hasn’t been affected by COVID-19…either directly or indirectly. While many of us are starting to return to some sort of life that resembles the ones we knew, many others are still struggling beyond comprehension with the ramifications of it all. Some will struggle with the physical impacts of COVID, but most of us will be struggling with emotional fatigue, financial stress and fear.

This pandemic has also highlighted – in a way that I don’t think was possible pre-COVID – the generations of fatigue and fear and financial stresses black and brown people have experienced through centuries of systematic racism…because we have had the time to feel the discomfort like we – non-black, but specifically white people, never have before. 

I, of course, can’t speak for anybody other than myself here, but I am prepared to say out loud that these two monumental events, along with the very big, very real realities of our collapsing climate, I have been taking a substantial mental toll. 

In an attempt to manage my mental and physical wellbeing, I have relied on a number of tactile, practical and colour-filled measures to help improve my state of mind, and I hope that some of these recommendations my serve you well too.

1. Growing Greens (and pinks, purples, reds and blues):

I don’t have a garden, but I have managed to carve out a small space on my neighbour’s roof (which I am not technically allowed to use…but you know, LOCKDOWN) in which I have planted some wildflowers (which offered explosions of colour outside my window) and upcycled some cold bags into grow bags and filled them with vegetable seeds. I cannot begin to tell you how fulfilling this has been to me. The is an indescribable sense of pride and pleasure that comes along with growing something from seed, watching it grow and then, when the time is right, feasting on its nourishment. As an added bonus, I am actively participating in a climate change solution according to a UN Report highlighted in this great article by Off Grid World.

My rooftop garden

There is also lots of supporting evidence of the mental and physical health benefits of gardening. So even if you are stuck in the confines of your home, gardening (whether that’s with indoor plants, rooftop gardens, allotments or a huge garden) can be very beneficial.

2. Mindfulness and Meditation

I’m not someone who religiously practices mindfulness or meditation, however, I do buy into their benefits. I think that perhaps the spirituality associated with meditation has always been a bit of deterrent for me – being a believer of science and all. But the more I learn about the science behind mindfulness, the more I am drawn to explore their merits.  I am particularly fond of the Insight Timer app because it offers a wide selection of good quality free guided meditations and practices, which, when the financial pressure is on, makes a world of difference. I have been using a Yoga Nidra meditation by Jennifer Piercy to help get to sleep with my brain is overcome with stress, worry and chaos. I find her voice especially comforting and easy to listen too – which I can’t say about many guides if I am honest.  

I suppose I should also mention that I have used this time in lockdown to develop The Beautiful Art of Letting Go into an online offering…and mindfulness is the backbone of these experiential art & beauty classes, workshops and programmes!

Create an At-Home Spa Experience

Image by Lisa Moyneur@lmoyneur via Unsplash

Perhaps it won’t surprise you to hear that the search term “facial at home” is up by 115% during lockdown, according to a report by Cult Beauty. Creating an at-home spa experience is easy, relatively inexpensive (if you just use what you have and don’t feel compelled to buy more stuff) and oh-so beneficial. So if you are privileged enough to be able to carve out some time to yourself in the bathroom, I highly recommend it for a total sensory experience for your skin and overall wellbeing.  

Olverum Bath Oil

My personal spa experience consists of a bath* containing a capful of Olverum Bath Oil (I am obsessed with the earthy, herbal, green smell of this beautiful British heritage brand. It makes me feel safe and nurtured), a face mask (I am currently using up my Evolve Beauty’s Radiant Glow Face Mask, made from raw cacao and upcycled blueberry pulp…it smells so good that you can actually taste it!), a glass of rosé with a couple of cubes of ice…and my iPad blaring reruns of Grey’s Anatomy.

*I am acutely aware that we have a looming water crisis in our midst, so when I do have the occasional bath/spa experience, I make sure to capture large amounts of the bathwater and use it to water the plants – both indoors and on the roof garden.

Parting thoughts

We are still facing enormous uncertainty in the days, weeks and months ahead. With that comes waves of emotions exacerbated by the many hardships we are all living through – albeit in drastically varying degrees. Sometimes these ‘waves’ will crash down on us as if from out of nowhere, and other times we will see them coming so that we can brace ourselves. But in between…whether your drowning, floating or swimming with ease, do whatever you can within your power or means to immerse yourself in nature, find beauty wherever you can and seek out the colours the fill your soul with joy.

What do you do to care for yourself through trying times?

untainted |ˌənˈtān(t)əd| adjective
not contaminated, polluted, or tainted: the paper was untainted by age.

UNTAINTED is a directional beauty platform, pushing the boundaries of clean, sustainable beauty. We are inspired and motivated by the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-sabi.

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