Natalie Garro, 129 TCCS
My name is Natalie Garro, and I’m a TCCS 129 volunteer here in Peace Corps Thailand. I’m not quite sure how to introduce myself, so I suppose I’ll start with the basics. I am your new Healthy Living correspondent, and I’m super excited to attempt to advise you in a general direction of maintaining your mental and physical health whilst here in Thailand – or, you know, wherever it is you may be!
My qualifications are as follows: I have successfully survived for 26+ years on this planet, sometimes run unnecessarily long distances in absurdly hot weather and somehow manage to not hate it, and have previously guided other humans through some yoga flows. But seriously, every individual is unique, and everybody – every body – needs a different kind of care. My intention for this column in 2018 is to offer up some of my own healthcare practices in the hope that some of you will find them useful in your own lives. I’ll touch on nutrition, exercise and healthy movement, organization, and everyday routines that help me maintain my composure – sanity, what-have-you.
As we are starting the new year, I’d like to touch on a bit of advice from William Morris I read somewhere, one time (probably Pinterest):
I have always found I am the most at peace, productive, etc. when I am in a comfortable environment. Going back to high school, I have never been able to focus if my environment is dirty, messy, or otherwise in disarray. Perhaps this isn’t the case for you, and that’s fine! But I encourage you to take a moment – 30 seconds – to sit and reflect on what your surroundings look like when you’re most productive.
That is the type of environment you should aim to create for yourself in your personal space – whether that be a room, a portion of a room, an apartment, or a house – keep your space in the manner that makes you most comfortable. For me, this is where this advice comes in. When I first came to Thailand, I shared a room with my two host sisters, Nim and Por, and – on the first night – the three of us shared a bed. I’ll admit, that first night, I lay in the bed, attempting to take up as little space as possible next to these two girls, thinking, “What the hell have I gotten myself into?” But, I went through the motions I knew I needed to make to settle into my home for the next three months: I “nested” by putting out some pictures from home, moved some of my things into the three plastic drawers Por cleaned out for me after I’d arrived, put my blanket out on the bed, and found a place to keep the things I’d use every day. It wasn’t much, but it was enough to make me feel a little more settled and a little more at ease. It was something to come home to.
When I moved in with my second host family, it was much the same. I moved into my host sister’s room, this time alone, and though the room was just big enough to hold the bed, my suitcase, and my moving box, I put out my books and my pictures, and I made the space mine.
I now have a house, and I’ve set up a yoga/ reading/ drawing space that I’ve decorated with pictures, plants, white Christmas lights, and trinkets I’ve bought in my travels, and I’ve allowed myself to spread out and make the space mine. Settling into my space has allowed me to feel grounded – rooted in my site, if you will – and it’s helped me feel more a part of my community. When people come over, I take pride in showing them I can maintain a clean, comfortable home (something which everyone gently expressed concern over when I moved into my rather large house, which is a bit big for one person), and I enjoy entertaining guests, as I have created a very habitable space.
Whether you’re currently in PST, living in your rental (which may have surpassed or miserably failed to meet your housing hopes and dreams), or living with your host family, this is the first bit of mental health advice I leave you with: make whatever space you’re given, yours.
Make your space your own.
- Put up decorations.
- Keep your space in your preferred state of organization – or disorganization – as often as possible.
- Create an accessible place for things you use often, and create an out-of-the-way/ out-of-sight place for things you use occasionally.
- Keep pictures of the people and places you love visible.
- If you live alone, have enough dishes/silverware to host at least three people, in addition to yourself. Keep an extra mat, pillow, and blanket for guests.
- Keep at least one food or beverage in-stock to provide to unexpected guests.
- And, once again, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”