By Press Room Contributor and Marketing Manager Katie McAllister
Saturday – 11:30am – 12:30pm, Soul Cafe
It was quite fitting that the self-care panel was in Soul Café. As we all walked in to take our seats, one of the managers handed out pamphlets and told us about the incredible work of the place. Soul Café provided meals, counselling, legal aid, resume workshops and a safe space for people who needed somewhere to heal and to recuperate. The audience was feeling reflective and mindful before the round table had even started.
Vince Ruston and Chloe Walker were warm and welcoming in sharing their wealth of self care knowledge with the audience. We started with a discussion of what self care actually was. Vince was quick to clarify that self care was not all about “green smoothies, a little bit of lemon and a lot of yoga,” but about taking the time to listen to what your body needed. We all agreed that the marketing industry had appropriated self care as this activity or pastime that required a lot of money, adult colouring books and Lorna Jane active wear. In reality, it was a very individual and personal thing. Izzy Roberts-Orr suggested it was about catching yourself before you fall and knowing what you needed at any one time.
Chloe explained that we all know we must look after our bodies; we must sleep, eat, exercise and remember to get some sunshine. But so often, we forget these things, because we are inside writing. Vince said that they tended to dissociate a lot and it was essential for them to come back to their body, especially after writing for five hours. The body holds a lot of stress and it is essential to create the space and time to stretch, to breathe and to not get suntanned by the glow of a laptop and you next best selling novel. There were plenty of apps for meditation and for bringing you back to yourself, Vince told us, things like the Smiling Mind app or the Breathe app. If we ignore the new age branding and marketing around meditation, we can appreciate it as something very useful for self-care.
From here, the round table really became a discussion back and forth with the audience around what worked for self care and what didn’t. Ultimately, it became clear that self care is deeply individual and that it’s fine to ask for support and help when you needed it. As writers, we tend to live in our own heads a fair bit, but we need to remember we have a body that needs to move more than fingers across a keyboard. We have friends who will help us when we ask. And some days the greatest victory we will achieve will be getting out of bed. Other days it will be running a kick arse panel on self-care in café that exists to care for others. So now, everyone, have a glass of water, stretch, breathe and listen to your body. You know what you need.