Review: The Bell Jar

The Bell Jar Sylvia Plath Harper Perennial

I am genuinely surprised that I’d enjoyed The Bell Jar this much. The first time I tried reading it was back in 2018 but couldn’t continue after just a few chapters. It really affected my mood, and maybe that’s because I wasn’t in the best place emotionally speaking back then. But now that has changed, and I’m glad I decided to give this book a second chance!

Despite being a rather sad story about Esther Greenwood going mad with depression (and possibly schizophrenia), her peculiar retellings and personality have made her a memorable character for me. Mental health is a topic that’s greatly discussed nowadays, but it wasn’t so much in the ’60s when it was first published. And while most of us stay informed, only a handful undergo severe conditions like the one Sylvia Plath recounted.

In addition to the psychological side of this novel, here Plath goes beyond and shares common experiences, misconceptions, and doubts that many young women go through while entering womanhood.

Despite being a little over 200 pages long, here the reader will experiment alongside Esther, all sorts of emotions — from funny moments to very gruesome ones. The quality of Sylvia Plath’s writing makes it all palpable and real, being simple yet beautiful.

I can officially say it has become a new favorite of mine, and it won’t be my last time reading it.

“I felt very still and very empty, the way the eye of a tornado must feel, moving dully along in the middle of the surrounding hullabaloo.”

Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

Overall rating: 4/5

* Trigger warning: suicide

5 ways to cope with stress in times of Covid

Image: Unsplash

Hi there! I feel it’s been forever since I’ve posted a non-book related post. These uncertain times have caused me some episodes of stress and anxiety, and I’m sure I haven’t been the only one. I’ve been meaning to write about it and share my experience and tips that I’ve found helpful, but I’ve ended up postponing it. My main source of doubt has been: Do people read blogs anymore? I feel like these past two years, Instagram has transformed into a micro-blogging platform, where “bloggers” have replaced their blogs with 2,200 characters in Instagram captions. Let me know if I’m wrong, perhaps I’ll start posting here more often.

Anyway, these are the main 5 things that I’ve found useful while coping with stress during self-isolation:

1.Yoga

I’ve been practicing yoga for eight years already (time flies!) but I’ve always lacked consistency. It wasn’t until lockdown when I found myself with so much spare time, it was a bit scary. Until I remembered how much I’d been complaining in the past about how my lack of free time prevented me from practicing yoga more often. I began with easy vinyasa flows and have moved my way up to more advanced sequences. If I’m honest, at first it wasn’t easy. Some days I felt lazy and had zero motivation. I had to remind myself how good I would feel afterwards, so I literally had forced myself to take my mat out more than once. Even if you start with short 15-minute sessions every couple of days, remember: you’re showing up for yourself. That’s what matters most.

2. Meditation

Along side with yoga — but not exclusively– I’ve found comfort in meditating. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was an over saturation of news (mostly all negative) and it was too overwhelming. The only way out of it was disconnecting to connect. And yes, I mean forgetting about my smartphone, laptop and social media for a while. The easiest way to start meditating is by taking baby steps: just set aside one minute of your time, at least once a day. And breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Focus on the ground beneath you, feel the pull of gravity, listen to surrounding noises. Listen and let go. Breathe. And if thoughts come along your way (they always do), observe them — and let them go too. If it’s something out of your control, it’s not worth your energy. Just be present.

3. Trying out new hobbies

Having spare time means you can learn new things! The internet is an infinite source for new knowledge. These past few months I’ve cooked recipes that had been saved in my Pinterest board since forever. I also learned how to make my own soy-wax candles. And it’s not always about learning something new. Do you have a forgotten hobby? Well give it another try! I’ve started drawing and painting again, and I still cannot understand why I even stopped in the first place. Sure, binge watching Netflix or playing video games could be considered as hobbies too, do whatever suits you best. But I do suggest to limit the use of electronic devices, whether we want to admit it or not, they prevent us from being more mindful and present.

4. Journaling

Write your heart out. That’s all I can say. During these uncertain times, sure it’s been helpful to have Zoom meetings with friends and family, but everyone is going through their own struggles. Ok, perhaps I do this because I’m a Type 5w4, but I personally don’t like to worry others with my own incessant ramblings. So my journals have sort of become like my BFFs. Write whatever you feel, whatever comes to your mind. And once your get all those negative emotions off your chest, don’t forget to also write down what you’re grateful for. It’s the small details that count.

5. Reading

Last but not least (as you could’ve guessed), books have helped me so much. Last year I went through a big reading slump that lasted many months (I only read 8 books which is very little for me). This year, I thought it was going to be the same due to the circumstances. But the more time I passed in self-isolation, the more I realized I needed an escape. And what a better escape than books. I love reading fiction because you can go anywhere — whether it’d be a magical world with strange creatures or simply relive Jane Austen’s love stories, I assure you it will make you forget everything else.

I know some have viewed quarantine as a time of competition, many people have used this time to learn new skills and languages, but if you feel pressured, then don’t do it. Never do something just because everyone else is doing it. Engage in activities that make you feel relaxed, and if you’re going to pick up a new hobby, remember that it’s meant to be fun.

And just to keep in mind, this post is a compilation of some ideas that have worked for me during times of stress. But if you’re experiencing severe anxiety, please reach out to a friend or professional. There will always be someone willing to help ❤

That’s all for today! And how about you, how have you been dealing with stress? Let me know in the comments!