Yrsa Daley-Ward is a writer and poet of mixed West Indian and West African heritage.
Born to a Jamaican mother and a Nigerian father, Yrsa was raised by her devout Seventh Day Adventist grandparents in the small town of Chorley in the North of England. She is the author of ‘On Snakes and Other Stories’ and ‘Bone’.
It is easy to drown in the length and breadth of winter.
This time of year in this country can be a thick heavy, thing, resting on your inner and outer limbs, drawing on for months. There’s nothing gentle about the struggle either, the old fatigue that creeps up along with newer wear and tears on the spirit, set against the pressing reality of thinner, darker days.
Time feels brittle as one year draws to a close and a new one appears in sight.
You are preparing for battle, plodding forward in a bid to slay the cold, blues and tiredness, the dull aches that shroud you in a way that vitamins, soup and the hope of the brand new year can only scratch at.
How then do you give yourself the things you need, enough sweetness, enough rest? How do you go about maintaining a healthy equilibrium?
Commit to radical self-care from this moment. The idea itself is, in itself simple enough but firstly, being still is a skill.
So often we forget how to rest. The idea of self-care as a radical decision seems ludicrous. Such is the state of things. We race through the days and months, with anxiety, haste and urgency, often robbing ourselves of the very basics components needed for body and soul nutrition, water, creativity, spontaneity, the company of loved ones -even sleep, which must never be mistaken for rest. Each may be found in the other, yet there is a clear distinction.
The work, the heart work – I call it, pulls on you for a level of honesty and reflection, which can be uncomfortable. You may feel undeserving or self indulgent. But there is much to be found in taking time out and feeding your needs. Like love, compassion and grace, care must start deep on the inside. You cannot give if you are empty. Now is the perfect time for restoration.
It will tell you what it needs, piece by piece. Listen to it.
Most likely it will call for some kind of slowing. Honour that.
There is no rapid fix for the heart work, for being in tune with your needs – both a courageous act and a long labour of joy. Yours is an inner warmth to gain – self-acceptance, genuine compassion of self and of others.