Dealing Hope, Mental Health

May 4, 2021

How a She Shed saved my mental health

I'm WillowjakMama!

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. Now it's my favourite place to be.

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Boundaries. They are always hard for me to set. Since recovering from depression and anxiety, I’ve learned to set boundaries for my mental health. 

One of the most important boundaries for me is the fine line between work and home. It’s hard, because I do bring my work home with me.  I bring home the usual teacher work – curriculum planning and marking. But I also bring home students’ worries and moods and attitudes. 

As a highly sensitive person and empath, I feel everyone’s emotions and energy. A good day can leave me exhilarated and joyful. A bad day can leave me anxious, depressed, and cranky. And of course everything in between. It was important for me to learn how to channel my own emotions and separate them from others’ emotions that I latch onto. I learned during my recovery and return to work that setting boundaries early and maintaining them was critical to my selfcare and mental health. 

Things were going smoothly … until Covid-19 hit. 

I no longer had separation from work and home. I was working at home. I was trying to teach while supporting my own children. This left me trying to support them and students, all at the same time. And of course, the first thing to go was the boundary between work and home, and my mental health spiraled. 

My husband first suggested I needed a place of my own. Of course I insisted that was nonsense, I could do it all. (Yeah right!) 

He pointed out he has a man cave of his own in the basement. A workspace for his tech stuff and office. But beyond that, we were out of space. There was no unused space in our home to repurpose into a workspace for me. A workspace I desperately needed. 

Then the idea hit my husband. Why not make a space for me outside? We could buy a shed … 

Now, I love the outdoors, but working in a shed? Was he nuts? 

Nope, I just wasn’t thinking outside the box. Not just any shed like the little one we keep our lawnmower in, but a well built “She Shed”. We started looking around at prices and sizes, and trying to figure out exactly what I needed. 

And one year ago this past weekend, my shed arrived. 

My little space to call my own. (Ok, not so little.) It has since been painted bright purple with white trim. Window boxes and shutters are in progress for this summer. 

This shed has saved my mental health in Covid. Since we bought it in May 2020, we have had 3 sessions of school closures and online learning. A grand total of 3.5 months (and counting) worth of online teaching spread over the year.  That’s a long time to sit in a shed looking at a screen.  But I’ve made it my home. I have a desk, chair, and bookshelf in there. I set up my laptop and I’m good to go. I have paintings in there that I have painted.  I have a wall hanging made by a friend. I have hung curtains for a backdrop for my zoom calls and google meets. I have my own workspace, at home, but yet away from home. 

Over the year, it has housed an air conditioner and heater (depending on the season) and is now fully insulated. Drywall is an eventual goal, but hasn’t been done yet. 

Other than online teaching, I’ve used it as a haven in stressful moments, an office for running my own business, and a corner to share a coffee or glass of wine with a friend. 

Over the past year it has become a huge part of our lives – both a work necessity and a safe haven. It’s helped me create boundaries. It’s a physical boundary of “I’m going to work” and a sign to my kids that mommy is working and should not be bothered. It’s a mental boundary during virtual teaching that this is my workspace. I can leave my work here, and go into the house and focus on family. It’s saved my mental health countless times. 

Happy 1st Anniversary She Shed. 

Marilyn R.

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Hi, I'm Stacey.
Welcome to the
Willowjak Blog 

My blog started as a way to document my journey to wellness, but turned into a place to be inspired by others through our collective messy & authentic stories. We chat about themes that are often ignored and voices that aren't often given a chance at the mic. Now it's my favourite place to be. 

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