The Vine – Issue 3
Curated by John McCallum-Cherry
Welcome to The Vine.
A monthly editorial bringing fresh cultural content from Bloom.
Self-care is a relatively new concept. The term entered the Western lexicon in 2016 as a salve for record levels of reported stress. It’s now an industry valued at figures between $10 and $400 billion dollars. Pasting a face mask on once a fortnight now = #selfcare. But it has deeper roots.
T.S Eliot once wrote that ‘April is the cruellest month, breeding/Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing/Memory and desire, stirring/dull roots with spring rain.’
Fun fact: When T.S. Eliot wrote the above, his mental health had deteriorated. He worked long hours for Lloyd’s Bank and his creativity faltered. He took a sabbatical and discovered a Swiss psychoanalyst, Vittoz. The techniques he learnt – rewiring mental pathways and changing behavioural clichés are what we now call Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. He went on to complete The Wasteland, a poem which would define the Modernist movement and cement him as one of the finest poets of the 20th Century.
What is the self? It’s a concept that is found in discussions about religion, psychology, sociology, neuroscience, philosophy and culture. Before you can commit to the practical methods of care, take a second to think about the self. About your self. Being present and mindful can help develop that feeling of knowing the quintessential you.
What is care? Seems obvious, right? Food, clothing, shelter; the bare necessities to survive. What we’re interested in here though is more than surviving; it’s blooming (wink-wink).
Nutritional psychiatry is a relatively new field of study exploring the link between diet and mental health. Felice Jacka, president of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry, published the results of Smiles, a 2017 trial in which 67 moderate to severely depressed people with unhealthy diets were given different methods of treatment. Half ‘received seven sessions with a clinical dietician while the others received social support, involving friendly conversation’. Three months in, a third of those from the first group were in remission compared to just 8% of the second group. This isn’t to suggest that a cheeky takeaway will doom you to low mood and anxiety. Positive mental wellbeing can be impacted by practical things such as a well-balanced diet. If knowing the difference between saturated, monounsaturated, trans and polyunsaturated fats makes you scratch your head. Don’t despair, learning a new skill and becoming more mindful of what you put into your body can increase self-confidence.
Ah, sleep. We all love a bit of shut-eye. To be more precise we love the nourishment we get from sleep. There is growing awareness of the importance of sleep quality and a beneficial night-time routine. A few of the benefits of regular and high-quality sleep are clear: it reduces stress and blood pressure, improves cognitive abilities, maintains weight and can improve mental health conditions. It’s important to create a night-time routine that suits you. How? Here’s a tip – screens, try and put them to one side an hour before you go to bed. Research shows that looking at screens before bedtime will take you longer to fall asleep, delay your circadian rhythm by supressing melatonin secretion, decrease your REM sleep and make you feel like a tossed pancake in the morning. The same content will be available to scroll through come the morning, scouts honour.
‘Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.’ Audre Lorde