Monday, 21 January 2013

Restoration Day

This last week has been tough and I have found myself very much in need of some restoration. Sunday saw me coming home from church and collapsing in a heap on the sofa. That is the pre-restoration stage. The 'too exhausted to think so someone bring me a cup of tea and stick a film on' kind of afternoon. By 11pm I staggered upstairs and fell into bed where I slept way past the time I should have gotten up and woke up to sunlight rather than darkness. It was a real treat.

It was a perfect start to the day I needed. A day for daydreaming, a real restoration. My Greek class was cancelled and the hill up to college was too snowy and icy to contemplate getting my bike out so I gave in to it guilt free. Finally, the time I needed. And so I wandered about my house, made a pie for dinner and sat in my favourite chair and read.

I used to live with someone who called these days 'mental health days' and that's kind of what they are. As much as you need a bit of time to let your body recover after an illness sometimes you need it just as much for your emotions, especially if you commit to your life, work and relationships with everything you have. In the study week on conflict I attended one of the course leaders said she could write a whole book on 'self care' and I quite believe her.

We're not very good at it are we? Looking after ourselves to the same level that we care for others? An insightful question is always 'What advice would you give your best friend?' I found myself in the odd position of talking to a friend in exactly the same situation as me this weekend. And do you know what I said to her 'Go easy on yourself, take time out if you need it.' But isn't it so much easier to give advice than to take it?

I know when a day of restoration has done it's job when I start to think about the future positively again. I deliberately do that on these days. What are my goals? What are the values behind them? What do I really care about? What am I really doing here? The answers to those questions aren't so radically different from what I'm doing day to day now and that is a great joy. But often it is a chance to remember it a fresh. To remember that it's the people in my life that make my world go round, the rest is just fluff, just stuff really.

Restoration days are a good day to commit to things. To mad plans that will make your year. Mine is a cookery course in Tuscany. I'm going to learn to make pasta this year in a kitchen in Florence and I can't wait. So what about you? Are you needing a restoration day? What questions would you ask on yours? And what madcap schemes will you cook up? I hope you get one soon!


  1. I'm glad the weather stepped in and gave you that day off you needed, Nicola. In my experience most clergy (and here I include clergy-to-be) are very bad at looking after themselves. In parish ministry there always seems to be more to do than time to do it, so this is a lesson learned at the right time.

    PS Your holiday in Florence sounds out of this world. :-)

  2. Thanks for the comment Perpetua. Yes, it does seem quite endemic which doesn't surprise me really given the rate of clergy going off sick with stress! I'm figuring that if I want to last more than a few years in ministry then self care is a must so I am prioritizing it.

    And yes, can't wait for the holiday! It's going to be a wonderful summer!