We tend to view stress as a modern phenomena, however, historical documents, biographies and interviews from almost any point in history show us that it has been around for as long as we have!
Common sense tells us that; having lived such hard lives and coped with such trauma and loss, it is inevitable that the Brontes, individually and as family suffered from stress, and anxiety and this is indeed backed up by their writing. The diary papers and letters they left behind also show us how they invested time and effort in attending to their mood and wellbeing. So, having immersed myself in Bronte life, here’s my top 5 Bronte inspired relaxation and wellbeing tips.
- Write it Down. Carlotte, Emily & Anne all wrote huge amounts, not just the novels and poetry they were famous for, but, also masses of letters and ‘diary papers’. They used these to reach out and communicate with each other and the outside world about their hopes, fears & worries, important in guarding against isolation and loneliness. They also used their writing to express gratitude, again a really vital part of looking after your wellbeing. The Bronte Sisters also did something that we recognise as journaling and brain dumping today. They wrote their diary papers, allowing events, thoughts and feelings to escape from their heads and make a little room! So, if it was good enough for Emily, Anne & Charlotte it’s good enough for us. Reach out, write a letter, postcard or a note to someone, share how you feel with them. Use your letter or journal to express your gratitude, and clear your head with a brain dump.
- Get Moving. The Brontes were out and about almost every day, even when the weather was bad, they walked into Haworth to do their errands and up on to the moors for fresh air and relaxation, their work is festooned with references to how well they felt when they’d had a good dose of fresh air and excercise. Even in winter, when it was too cold and dark to venture outside, they would walk around their table. They felt it helped digestion of their meal, avoided stiffness and restlessness and helped them think. They were of course, right in their thinking, so follow their example.
- Read a Good Book. Thanks to their dad Patrick, all the Bronte children were taught to read and write at an early age and they all developed a real love of books, newspapers and reading. Their writing shows us that they read often and very much viewed it as an enjoyable and relaxing part of their routine. So why not adopt their habit and read a good book for a few minutes each day?
- Hang Out With The Animals. Emily, Anne & Charlotte all clearly recognised the importance of animals to thier wellbeing and they had pets throught their lives. Emily was so devoted to her dog Keeper that she insisted on feeding him herself just hours before her death, despite being virtually bedridden. Indeed research has shown that spending time in nature and with animals has a really positive effect on our health & wellbeing. So get a pet, walk the neighbours dog, go feed the ducks or just watch the birds through the window, but spend some time with other lifeforms!
- Create Something. The Brontes were ultimately creative and it sustained them, even after the loss of all her siblings Charlotte Bronte returned to her writing as a source of solance. As a family, they sketched, painted, embroidered, tatted, acted, cooked, wrote poetry, plays, novels and generally created. So, give it a try (whatever it may be that interests you). Create something – just for the sake of creating and expressing your own creativity.
- Nature Bathing. Emily, Anne & Charlotte all spent as much time as possible outside in nature. They viewed it as an essential restorative activity and we should too! Get out there, breath deeply and absorbe the natural environment!
I hope you enjoy these ideas for relaxing, inspired by the Bronte Sisters and their lives. Stress and strains are as old as we are and we must be mindful of getting some time to relax, even a few minutes to restore ourselves.
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