I am useless at ‘switching off.’
Even in the dark surroundings of my local cinema and watching the latest Liam Neeson thriller, I can feel my brain start to buzz with all the things I should me considering, planning, all the mounting items on my to-do list. Did I send that email? Should I be doing more or less freelance? Is there something I’ve forgotten?
It doesn’t always have a negative impact, either. Sometimes having a never-stop-thinking sort of brain is a bonus. I’ve always got new ideas and ambitions on the go and can be perceptive as to what everyone else is feeling and thinking.
Other times, it can feel a bit tiring.
Having a break at Christmas reminded me that there is an alternative way to live – a way to ‘switch off’.
Instead of filling the limbo between Christmas and New Year with social engagements and freelance opportunities, I stepped back. I even began to feel less tired. Days were filled with lazy brunches in bed, long walks, catching up on TV series we liked the look of, digging out old board games and messing around. I even stopped cooking proper meals – and despite the inevitable weight gain that a nightly tea of cheese and biscuits will leave you with, it removed some of the pressure too.
The thing is, in the last year or so, I’ve noticed guilt slipping in and disrupting my peace. Guilt about not seeing my friends or supporting my family, about not keeping up my twice-weekly gym visits or taking on enough freelance work. Feeling guilt about different aspects of my life has meant that I’ve often felt conflicted, pulled this way or that way and in different directions. I have spent so much of my time worrying about what I should be doing, I almost forget to enjoy myself.
Which is why, this January, I’ve been trying to keep my Sundays set by to do something I find peaceful. It doesn’t have to be anything exciting or new – relaxing in the bath with a new magazine, perhaps, or going for a muddy walk in the countryside. This Sunday, after feeling particularly burnt-out, I curled up in my bed (complete with fairy lights and a lit candle) and watched a film on my own with a bowlful of popcorn.
I’ve also been reading a few different books that promote peace, in the hope that some of the words will stick. Fearne Cotton’s ‘Calm‘ was an enjoyable read – I recommend grabbing it in hardback rather than Kindle format for its excellent drawings. I have also begun to read Chloe Brotheridge’s book, ‘The Anxiety Solution‘, which has already started to resonate with me.
I have also started attending yoga classes and I’m already enjoying them. While I’m very much at beginner’s level, there’s something about having a hour to yourself, stretching in a dimly-lit room, that feels quite therapeutic. Incidentally, the class falls on a Monday evening too, so I’m making it my motivation to get through that difficult first day of the week.
I’d be interested to know what your tips and tricks are for maintaining peace, especially when guilt sets in. Is there anything you set aside as a must-do to stop your brain from whirring?