Following on from my previous article about mental well-being affecting physical health, I'd like to explore remedies for the soul. When I worked in the City, running used to be my saviour. I would try to carve out time to go for a run after a stressful meeting. Outside I would release my fury over a boss who would not push back on client's demands and get over other niggles. Running along the Thames also showed me the world outside my office: tourists snapping the Big Ben, kids pestering their parents for some candy floss on the Southbank. After my runs, I would relax and get things in perspective: the world did not revolve around my boss. Running reminded me that I was a person, not just a City cog.
Chronic fatigue closed that vent for me. Fortunately, I discovered writing. Writing is a wonderful therapy. It does not matter what I am writing about: a Life Tonic blog, a story of an inspiring woman for my Ladies Who Impress website or an article about current affairs in Russia. I came to think that writing helps to keep a lid on worries because it is a creative activity. It is the achievement of creating something from scratch that feels rewarding. Focusing the mind on its favourite hobby releases happiness hormones. Since our executive function can only do one thing at a time - be angry or calm, frightened or soothed - a happy activity takes over any negative emotions. I also believe that creativity is powerful because it's a process: word by word, stroke by stroke, step by step, it resembles a journey, at the end of which your perseverance takes you from being stuck in an unhappy place to feeling warm and fuzzy.
Chicken soup for the soul does not need to be fancy. What makes you happy and takes you into a state of flow, when you stop noticing the time and feel so immersed in the experience that other needs seem to disappear? It really does not matter how good you are, as long as your favourite pass-time nurtures the soul. Cooking, teaching yoga, writing music, photography, playing an instrument, blogging, making soap or upcycling furniture are capable of turning a lousy day into a bright one. A creative project is just like a bowl of homemade chicken soup: it makes you feel better, as if by magic.