At the moment, life feels busy.
It keeps coming in waves. I can go for a week or two without having any commitments, then suddenly bam I’ve got something on every night after work. I get to Thursday evenings absolutely willing it to be the weekend so I can have a little bit of a break, a lie in.
I like to always be doing something. Whether it’s seeing friends after work, spending time with Dan, going to the gym, yoga, blogging event, writing my blog… I do enough to fill five nights a week plus usually two full days at the weekend. I’m very lucky that my job and my blog provide give me the opportunity to go to different places. I can afford the odd weekend away and last week, my blog took me to Edinburgh for 24 hours!
I think part of this need to be busy comes from when I was younger. I would always be doing some kind of after-school activity. Orchestra, drama club, swimming lessons, flute lessons, ballet classes… Yep, I was a crazy cool kid! As I got older, certain things had to give as I got significantly cooler (ha) and started to want to hang around with friends after school. Then I started uni and although it probably took me the first year to adjust, by the second year, I was doing everything I could again. The uni newspaper, dancing, and then by third year, I’d found myself as the editor for the food section of the newspaper and a dance teacher. Still, doing everything where I could!
But in reality, this illusion of busyness, isn’t always a good thing. Sometimes it’s okay to not be busy.
I’ve made no secret of my struggle with anxiety over the last year and a bit. Somehow it’s wriggled into my life and just when I think it’s going away, it creeps back in at the most inconvenient of times. A therapist told me last year that because of all the crazy life stuff like finishing uni, moving home and starting a new routine, my brain had just gone HOLD UP. I’VE HAD ENOUGH. PAY ME ATTENTION. And so I’ve learned to take care of myself, to not let my battery drop back down to 20%, because that’s when stuff is really shitty.
Somewhere in the panicky mess, there is a pattern. Take it on a four weekly basis as an example. Week one, I’ll feel really good. I start to book my diary up because I feel happy and well. Week two I do something basically every night after work. Then I start to feel a bit tired. Week three I’ve still got a fairly full diary and I feel like a crash is inevitable but I keep going because I can rest at the weekend. Then in week four, I burn out. I lose it, I’m overwhelmed and everything is so terrifying and I can’t manage anymore because I’m so tired.
Okay, so it doesn’t always happen in four-week cycles, it’s more like six or eight, but you get the picture. It’s a big cycle. And then it takes me a good week sometimes to pick myself up again. About a month ago I had the biggest panic attack I’d had in a long time and it was definitely because I hadn’t given myself time.
What I’m wearing
Yellow polo neck jumper – ASOS | Tartan mini skirt – Primark | Buckle boots – ASOS | Biker jacket – Wallis | Bumblebee bag & blanket scarf – Primark
“I don’t have time for me”
I’ve learned the hard way too often that I need to take a step back and relax. However busy you are, however much stuff you think you have to do, however many people you think you have to please – you can always say no. If you think you will look weak because you take a break, you are so wrong. It’s incredibly brave to admit to yourself, let alone your friends, that actually, you’ve overdone and you need to take time out. When talking to friends about mental health, I always recommend methods that work for me, especially meditation. When I advised one to one friend that she tried practising meditation for ten minutes a day, she told me she didn’t have time.
And I felt a little confused about that.
How many hours of the day do we actively focus on ourselves?
We work for at least eight hours a day. We sleep for another eight. That’s 16 hours already, gone. What do you do with the other eight? You might spend two or three hours an evening seeing friends. Maybe 90 minutes in the morning are spent getting ready. So that’s five hours left. How long do you spend scrolling through your phone or idly watching Netflix? I bet ten minutes out of your day to solely focus on yourself doesn’t seem too strenuous now, does it?
As with most things in life like diet and work / life, you need to strike a balance. Knowing your limits is absolutely key to ensuring you don’t experience burn out. Last week, I had a manicure booked on Monday, restaurant review on Tuesday, a trip to Edinburgh on Wednesday to Thursday and then date night on Friday. I’ve been going to the gym in the morning for the past few weeks before work so I can actually fit in some exercise, but I was starting to stress about actually having a moment to breathe, so I left it out of my routine last week. It took a weight of my shoulders and I knew it was there for me to return to this week. As soon as things start to feel like a chore and you’re getting stressed about them, it probably means you need to take a step back.
Making time for yourself is so important. We are connected all the time, and it is all too easy to waste an hour scrolling through Instagram when actually half of that time might be better spent investing in yourself by meditating, doing yoga or talking yourself for a walk. Self-care is a phrase that is thrown around a lot nowadays, but it’s something I think we should all practice a lot more.
Next time you find yourself thinking “I’m way too busy – I don’t have time”, check yourself.
I’m feeling a little bit like a cross between Ron Burgundy and Cher Horowitz in this outfit. Since buying myself a yellow biker jacket, I have found myself gravitating towards all shades of yellow and mustard for autumn. This crazy canary polo neck was a steal from ASOS and is so fluffy. That’s the Ron Burgundy bit. The skirt is a little bit of nineties Clueless vibes, and I love it. It’s one of those go-with-everything skirts. Primark have some great autumn winter pieces at the moment so I highly recommend taking a trip there! The buckle boots were an ASOS buy too – I think you’re gonna see a little bit more of these babies…
Dan snapped these photos for me down a quiet street outside Queen’s College when we were in Cambridge last weekend. If you missed my city guide, you can catch it here.