I’ve been away for a while. A lot has been going on; I’ve changed jobs, I’ve changed out my car (after 8 happy years of motoring together), I’ve been juggling a busy schedule and I’ve been working hard to maintain my commitment to volunteer each week.
What I’ve not been so good at is taking time out. Time to breathe.
I find I can’t sit still when I know there’s tasks to be done. Dishes in the sink, laundry in the basket, dog hair on the floor: these chores all weigh on my mind. I’ve realised that whilst I’ve been trying to keep the household afloat, and at the same time adapt to a new job, I’ve been letting my personal downtime slide. My “me-time” activities – reading, baking, sketching, even blogging – they’ve all fallen by the wayside. By way of example; at the end May I’d read 7 books this year. This figure, at the end of October, still stands at 7.
Mindfulness, the act of bringing your attention to the present, is exceptionally prominent in both the press and social media. Now, more than ever, we are aware of the importance of downtime and self care. It prevents burnout, allows us to appreciate the moment, and generally makes us happier people who are a joy to be around. So why do we feel guilty taking time out for ourselves? – I believe it has something to do with perception. I, like many women, feel that I am expected to portray the notion that I am on top of things at all times. After a full week of work, evening activities/commitments, cooking and housework, “down time” just keeps slipping further down the to-do list. There’s always a higher priority. I don’t want to be seen to be failing.
Today I read a BBC news article about the so-called millennial phenomenon of FOMOMG (Fear Of Missing Out on My Goals). This is the situation where the fear of missing your own personal life goals causes the goal-setter both stress and anxiety. I definitely can relate to the women in the article. I judge my “life-progress” based upon a mixture of milestones set by the generation before, the progress of my peers and the achievements of those who I follow on Instagram. Dwelling on what I have and haven’t achieved can easily spiral into blind panic. My teenage, or even early twenty-something year old self, would have anticipated that I’d be married with kids and in a senior role at work by now. Life doesn’t quite work out how you imagine it though… I’ve sometimes got to remind myself how lucky I am already.
So, in order to prevent myself from becoming a large ball of stress, I’ve decided I need to make a conscious effort to chill. I’m going to work hard at “allowing” myself free time to do all the (on the surface) frivolous tasks which I enjoy and make me chirpier in every aspect of my life. I’m not going to set any fixed targets for my downtime, for fear of adding to my already bulging to-do list. Instead, I’m just going to make time to breathe.
I’ll keep you posted with how I’m getting on.
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BBC article: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45894506