I’ve never been able to sit still for long; a ‘quiet’ moment is usually filled with checking my email ‘just in case’, scrolling social media, editing a picture or googling random facts about serial killers. My multi-tasking is getting ridiculous, as I often can be found watching a documentary and reading a book simultaneously – just to maximise use of the time I have available and ensure I can absorb as much of the world around me as possible. A long relaxing bath is mostly accompanied by a podcast, magazine or book, while my weekends are usually spent taking photos or filming videos with my husband between brunch dates and cinema trips. Even while studying at Uni I juggled a day job and a night job to feed my shopping habit (and Snakebite habit, but that’s another story!) until I pretty much collapsed from exhaustion and was told to take it easy. (Unsurprisingly it didn’t last long.)
For me, there’s always so much to do and see; there’s so much I could be getting on with and so much I want to absorb, that it’s so easy to get swept away and forget that what feeds the body and spirit is actually space. We need space to breathe, to listen and to look – and we need space in order for creativity to flow and for us to perform at our very best. As a freelancer it can be harder than most to recognise the need for a few days (or weeks) getting detached from technology and to resist the constant pull of your inbox. The feeling that every moment should be used to in some way build your brand, prepare for the future or be making money can be overwhelming, but often space is what you need to reignite your passion and focus.
As I stepped into 2019 I felt hugely optimistic for the future; I had a lot of exciting things planned and a handful of super exciting clients within my portfolio, but one by one everything started to go a little bit tits up. Not to toot my own horn, but I’m a pretty hard nut to crack and can fight my own (that’s what working in a male dominated environment with the face of a teenager will do to you) but I slowly started to crumble. I couldn’t focus, every little thing felt like it was the end of the world and I honestly wanted to do nothing more than curl up in my pyjamas watching Doctor Who and devouring leftover festive chocolate. So you know what? I let myself do just that.
It’s a rare occurrence for me to just throw in the towel and give myself a few days to wallow, but that’s exactly what I needed in order for the fog to clear and for my focus to be reborn. A few days of pottering about, drinking coffee and not putting pressure on myself to be creative actually started to stimulate my creativity; a few days of getting my nails done, buying myself a new bag, going to the theatre and embracing a snow day was just what I needed to start seeing the positive in things again. I came back after practically a week away with more clarity of what I wanted to do, how I wanted my future to look and what kind of content I wanted to keep creating – something that forcing myself to sit at my laptop from 9am to 6pm every day simply wouldn’t have achieved.
Our society breeds multi-tasking, constant connectivity and the feeling that we’re never doing enough; there’s always another task that needs doing, a new hobby that needs enjoying, a new documentary that needs watching, a new restaurant that needs trying… And our smartphones there by our side to document it all. But with that comes the need to step back, breathe deeply and look after your wellbeing for the long-term – something we’re all a bit guilty of forgetting about.
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed, lacking focus, feeling frustrated or simply haven’t been sleeping as well as you’d like, switch off and take as much time out as you need; being selfish in the short term benefits both yourself and everyone around you in the long term.
Take it from someone who’s known for burning the candle at both ends, and in the middle.
How do you try to switch off, take time out for yourself and allow your mind to have the space it needs?
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