The reason this blog took a wellbeing turn over the last few years is because I became so passionate about self-care and mindset, but I’m also passionate about having it all; the simple, slow lifestyle, but also an exciting life, great career and so on. That’s where the ‘slow living in the fast lane’ tagline came from. I am a true believer that we can have our cake and eat it, but sometimes we can get a little over-indulgent.
Only recently I finally took a holiday to visit family and spend some time in beautiful Wales. It was a long overdue break and I’d been working like crazy to make sure I could take it without it affecting anything else. However, what I didn’t think about is how going from being insanely busy to doing nothing suddenly can affect your health too.
Immune system shutdown
The first part of my holiday was spent with crippling stomach pains for a whole week. I still managed to have some fun during the holiday, but it was definitely made more difficult. I thought maybe it was down to food and so on, but the fun continued. I came back surprisingly relaxed ready for an extra day off before going back to work. The second week though (partial holiday, partial first sick days in years), has been spent with a cold from hell, affecting my sinuses and had me streaming tears all week while trying not to have a sneezing or coughing episode on a walk to the kettle that would cause migraines. It hit me so hard! It feels ridiculous to me that a cold could get to me so much, but the sinus issue has always been a thing and it’s bloody painful! As with everyone, it often occurs around the change of the season (and who knows what season we’re currently in!), I’m just often luckier/healthier and it goes away more quickly. I currently resemble a sick panda, with black eyes, pale face and a red flaky nose. It’s a sight!
Something this past couple of weeks has made me realise is that I need to stop more often. I honestly think that while I usually look after my immune system, I’ve neglected myself in other ways. I need to learn to pause. I am such an advocate for it for others, but looking back over the past few months I can’t remember a weekend of not being busy, or two evenings in a row with no plans. It’s also bothering me that the busy evenings aren’t just time with friends, if anything I’ve neglected some of them a bit recently.
It’s odd to me as I am genuinely so calm about everything, I don’t feel generally stressed, but I know that I am as it’s manifesting itself in a physical way and when I stop and think, or ramble on the page here, I realise what I’m doing to myself to keep both ends of the candle burning, and ultimately causing me burnout.
I believe this is my body’s way of telling me to slow down.
During lockdown last year, I felt like myself again. I had thought about what I want, taken some time to enjoy the every day, wake up slowly, write more, take time for hobbies. I came out of lockdown ready to charge at absolutely everything, and I did. My career has changed a lot this year, I have been studying for a diploma alongside work, and I have projects of my own that I’ve been working on (because you can never have too many?), plus I did a fitness programme that led me to finding some bodily issues and had a life coach for a bit with some deep internal work. I also had a new relationship to nurture with who I can only describe as the most patient and caring man ever. It’s been a lot!
However, while working on my mindset, career, studying and training, I neglected my actual wellbeing. I didn’t spend enough time just relaxing with friends or even alone. My partner and I were long-distance for a while and would only manage things around our schedules. My sister who lived with me worked very different hours to me, so we spent less time together once I went back to work. I was isolating myself, trying to spend every minute being ‘productive’, rather than just taking in the small moments.
Don’t get me wrong, I still lived in pure childlike-mindedness when it came to the beauty in every day, but I didn’t let myself indulge in that way. Instead, anything indulgent was like a reward for getting something done. Despite my constant going, I was actually less productive than when I relaxed more. I didn’t spend enough time doing things that mattered to me and when I did relax, it was more avoidance of the tasks ahead so not fully switching off, meaning I did coursework after work nights out, squeezed in phone calls to friends and family on a walk home from work, and so on.
After the past couple of weeks of feeling rough as toast (as my good friend put it, and I will forever steal!), I have realised I need to be more mindful of what I need and not just what I want. I need to slow down, make time for myself and those I love, and enjoy all of the in between bits.
I also need to enjoy my achievements so far. Despite the work I have put into things this year, I don’t think I’ve actually taken a moment to celebrate the wins properly, or be proud of what I’ve done. I just finished and moved onto the next bit!
How I plan to pause again…
Daily walks (without a catch up)
I love chatting to friends and family while walking, but I need to take walks again with no distractions. True time out to enjoy my surroundings. Even though it’s cold again!
I am really last minute with plans and it often ends up stressful. I want to plan some weekend breaks and evenings out, rather than just last minute deciding to do things. Spontaneity is great, but I need to make sure I have things to look forward to as well.
I looove yoga, but have never spent enough time on it. I want to create some rituals that are quick and easy, but help me feel like I’m having some down time. I know I have felt better after every yoga session I’ve ever done so need to give myself that time.
I have always had issues with sleep, but I think they actually stem from the feeling of wasting time as an adult. Yep, I see sleep as a waste of precious time. I’m changing my mindset towards it though, and trying to realise the importance of recharging.
This sounds counter-productive. However, I used to spend some time each morning journalling, having my first cup of tea, with no hurry or worries. Lately I have been jumping out of bed, getting ready fairly quickly and getting straight into work. I need my mornings back to feel like I’m taking charge of the day and not the other way around.
When I have spare time, I either watch tv, research things or read non-fiction such as articles, business books, and so on. I find it difficult to read fiction, but am going to try and work it into my daily life and allow myself some escapism.
Planning with friends
I have been trying this more lately, but I am the worst planner ever, I hate the idea of committing to something in case I don’t feel up to it, even though time with my friends always makes me infinitely happier and I’m always up for anything. I think it’s because I’m not having much time out, so feel my diary is too full too often. I want to spend more time with those that make me happy, rather than coming down from things that don’t.
I promised myself I would meditate each day, but of course commitment is too much for me, so instead I am going to just try to mediate more often. Just taking a few minutes here and there to have some time out in whatever meditative form that may take.
Write it down
Despite being an avid list-maker and note-taker, sometimes I leave ideas or thoughts or things to do whirring around in my mind. Rather than them taking up space there, I am going to get everything on paper (or computer), like I used to and let them be.
Having so much on your mind can be exhausting. Even little things like what needs doing in the house. I will embrace my list-making enjoyment and get it down. Then at least if I don’t have time or can’t be bothered to do something, it won’t disappear off the radar and will give me some head space.
I found some new hobbies during lockdown and rediscovered old ones. I’d like to spend more time doing these than thinking about my next move or worrying I should be spending my time elsewhere.
I am going to try to implement these small changes into my life naturally so there is no pressure, which seem ridiculously easy when reading them back. However, when adding them as an extra ‘task’, they have been ignored or avoided.