This month's guest blog post is from the wonderful Louise Budd of 'Tiny Acorn Mighty Oak'. Louise has been a massive supporter of Eva & Alma. Like me, Louise lives with health challenges and uses self care as her healthcare. Louise shares some of her insight and wisdom on how she runs a successful creative business whilst living with Rheumatoid Arthritis. She's a real inspiration with a positive mindset and a lot of love for others...
After working as a project manager for eight years, I decided it was time to pursue my dream of becoming a primary school teacher. At aged 27, I went to university and gained my degree. I started teaching but soon realised something wasn’t right with my health. I was ill and exhausted most of the time and I could hardly move my painful, stiff, swollen hands. Over the next few years, after many blood tests, a new doctor sent me for x-rays, which showed I had an aggressive form of Rheumatoid Arthritis and that I already had quite severe damage to my joints.
The day after my diagnosis, after 3 months in bed, I handed in my resignation and made the decision to give myself the time and the space to try and heal my body naturally - without medication. I realised that for years I had been pushing my body too hard, not looking after myself properly or listening to what my body needed and I had to overhaul my life. I dramatically lowered my stress levels; started working for myself as a private tutor, which offered me flexibility; nourished my body and mind with healthy anti-inflammatory foods and holistic treatments; and embraced my craving for creativity through art.
A couple of years later, my x-rays showed that I had no further damage, my day to day pain and swelling was almost gone and, as long as I paced myself, I no longer suffered with the debilitating fatigue. I was by no means back to how I was before the condition but I had reached a new normal.
Starting my creative business
I realised that I had been given a second chance to create a life that I loved. I wanted balance, peace and a life where I could be creative. I’ve always been a big fan of holistic therapies, crystals, affirmations, arts and craft so I decided to combine my passions into a business, where hopefully I could help others going through a tough time. I decided upon the name – Tiny Acorn Mighty Oak - because I believe we have the strength of an oak tree within us and we can create great things with lots of little steps from a small starting point – the acorn.
Pacing myself whilst running my business
I have to really carefully pace myself as I’ve always been someone who gets things done (usually multiple things at once!) but I have had to manage my expectations with my illness. Each week, I know there are things I need to work on – my blog, orders, making new products, photography etc, which I try to block together so I am being as efficient as possible, working around my tutoring commitments in the afternoon.
I try to plan my day according to how I’m feeling when I wake up, using my bullet journal as part of my morning routine. On a high energy day, I will choose the more physical jobs and when I’m feeling tired, I will work on the paperwork side of things and make sure I include time for rest.
Prioritising tasks is very important, along with being gentle with myself when I don’t get through everything I wanted to. I remind myself that I’ve done enough and tomorrow is a new day.
I also like to build in various points during the day for self-care, depending on what I need that day, which may be a walk in nature, a rest, something creative, meditation, a hot bath or some affirmations.
Being in nature helps me to be mindful as I find the colours and beauty found in nature very inspirational for my art. Meditation has also helped me to focus on the now, along with making sure I am grounded (using visualisation and crystals) to bring myself down from my whirling mind and into my body in the present moment.
The importance of self-care
Self-care has been so important on my journey back to wellness. I believe it is so vital to fill up our tanks and help build resilience. Firstly, I think it’s really important to be realistic about how much time you have for self-care and to try to schedule in something each day even if it’s only a 10-minute pocket of time. Another important point is to really make that time count and do things that YOU really need and love. I now view self-care as a way of honouring my body, mind and soul.
There are many different elements to self-care, including pampering ourselves, resting, eating healthily, exercising, gratitude practice, being creative, protecting your peace with boundaries and being kind to ourselves to name a few, so spend some time listening to your body and choosing what you need that day.
It can be really useful to gather together some items which you love using for self-care in a corner on your desk or in a little kit to carry in your bag. My items include a small candle, some crystals, affirmation pebbles, an aromatherapy spray and a nourishing snack. This makes it much easier to carve out a few minutes of self-care during a busy day.
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