My Cocoon, 8" x 10", watercolours by Heather Caruso
What is a "soul stealer"?
This is a limited weekly series about “soul stealers”. A soul stealer is something that zaps your energy and dulls your vital spark. It goes against your values and does not nurture you. We consider a lack of solitude a soul stealer. Why is solitude vital? It is part of our self-care and it maintains our soul and spirit.
Soul stealer number one, taking no time for yourself
A major soul stealer is not taking time for yourself, to quietly reflect on life, catch up on rest or do whatever you need to do to recharge your batteries. Some people push on and ignore signals that their nerves are wearing thin. They may feel irritable, resentful, on edge and fatigued. They may even start to dislike their job and/or be intolerant of others. Ignoring the need to rejuvenate creates bigger problems. For example, when you are pushed into interactions you feel resentful and inadvertently hurt someone’s feelings because you were tired and burned out.
Soul stealing may look like neglecting your basic needs
Not taking enough time to nurture yourself with proper nutrition and restorative sleep is part of this. When you are sleep-deprived and running on empty mental health, focus and attitude suffer.
We need to embrace solitude from time to time
Not only does solitude help you feel recharged, but it also gives you more clarity and focus. Our world and work are externally focused. Going within helps us incorporate our daily learnings because it gives us time to reflect. It provides opportunities for the mind and body to rest and recharge. When it is, we are fresh and better able to learn and adapt. Solitude also gives us freedom and space. When you are alone, you get to decide how you spend your time and you can do what you want without interruptions.
Create space for solitude in your life
Solitude is imperative for an extrovert but more so for an introvert’s mental health. If you need to recharge, here are a few tips to implement some soul-refreshing time. Turn off your computer, tablet, and phone for an evening or as long as you need. Say no to plans and do not feel guilty. Take time to rest or indulge in something you love like art, knitting, yoga, dance, tai chi, or any other thing that takes you out of your head and into your body. Set boundaries around how you spend your time. Some people are constantly busy for no reason other than that they do not like spending time alone with their own thoughts. This is an avoidant coping mechanism and seeing a therapist will be of great benefit to heal those pain points.
Art therapy and embracing solitude
Art therapy is a helpful way to engage in quiet reflection. The art shown above is called “My Cocoon”. I created it after feeling depleted after my second COVID vaccine and I wanted to be left alone. For one reason or another, my alone time was limited to walking my dog on a trail, but it was not enough. So, I engaged in artwork that depicted what I needed. On the left side is shows my ear, eye, and mouth, not open to hear, see or speak. The phone is asleep. There may be negative news around me or annoying noises like a chainsaw outside. I cannot hear or see any of it because I am in my bubble. It is warm, restorative and healing. The hearts represent my self-care and kindness. The rainbow top symbolizes the healing that having time to myself gives me. I made my own solitude through my art and by engaging in it, I felt replenished. You can choose whatever way you wish to go within, art, dance, sleep, nature walks, a bath, music or reading. Embrace precious solitude!
“One can be instructed in society, one is inspired only in solitude.”. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
Heather Caruso is an art therapist at Art Therapy Guelph. She offers both one on one and group art therapy sessions. For more information, contact us today. Click Here.