Breathe Issue 25

Strength. It’s a solid word, not quite onomatopoeic, but a robust sound nonetheless, conjuring up images of centuries-old trees that refuse to be toppled. It also feels decisive and suggestive of resilience, stoicism and wisdom as much as physical prowess.

People who display these traits, especially on an emotional level, seem to have these qualities in abundance. It’s what tends to make them the go-to person in times of crisis whether it’s to seek advice, to enlist their support or to cry on their shoulder.

Yet strength, no matter how solid it sounds or appears, doesn’t preclude vulnerability, frailty or uncertainty. On the contrary. Strong people are still human – they feel, they absorb, they worry. And, just like an age-old oak, they’re also dealing with their own internal and external anxieties and can equally succumb when storms refuse to abate.

It’s why self-care is so important, for everyone – even those who outwardly appear as though they could never be uprooted. It could be taking time out to practise a craft, listening to music, heading out for a walk, reading a book or engaging with art in a sensory way. In fact, why not take time out just to sit and enjoy the stillness (maybe with a cup or glass of something warming and a slice of spicy cake)?

After all, at this time of year, the weather can be inclement and nourishing mind, body and soul can help us all to stay warm and strong.