This weekend has consisted largely of catching up with shopping, household chores (yesterday) and time-consuming work projects I didn’t have the space for during the week (I sometimes feel I never get around to significant work during the week 😦 ). The coming week will consist of regular work / teaching commitments, PLUS exams, PLUS a deadline on Friday for my writing project. Today I forced myself to go out for half an hour – it was a glorious day, weatherwise – and really felt the benefit, brief though it was. I’ve decided that I need to prepare a few such chinks of light to get me through the week ahead: nothing time-consuming, nothing requiring me to go out of the way, but things that will remind me that I’m worth investing time and energy in, too. I’m not going to schedule them specifically, but I want to have done something off this list every day by the time next weekend comes around. I’m quite aware that a lot of these are pretty humdrum things that other people manage to fit in as a matter of course, but maybe that increases their significance…
- going to bed early with a crossword
- making a fresh fruit, ginger and soya milk smoothie (I might even manage this more than once – I can’t use a whole carton of soya milk at once…)
- dyeing my hair
- relaxing with a magazine while a facepack does its thing
- making a pot of proper tea before a writing session, rather than a mug of something unexciting
- eating lunch ONE day in a place that is not at my desk
- …and making the effort to go and get a salad rather than the quickest sandwich
- …and maybe even catching a few rays of sun on the way – it all helps to keep the mood buoyant!
Well, I’ve run out of ideas now, which probably only proves that I don’t think about such things often enough. If you know any quick pick-me-ups for the body, soul or general sense of well-being, do please leave a comment and I’ll gladly add them to the list for future reference.
I’m pleased to report that last week’s pre-weekend stress abated in the end and that I am approaching the end of this week in a much calmer frame of mind and with less unfinished business on my to-do list. Many thanks to all those who posted their tried-and-tested stress remedies and suggestions on the blog, on Twitter and on Facebook. Here is a selection of the ones that appealed most…
- Anne-Julie passed on lots of tips, including the suggestion that I make an appointment for a massage or a facial. Such “extravagances” struck me as way too indulgent, but I’m seriously wondering whether this is something I should rethink. I do feel the benefit of taking the time to give myself a leisurely facial at home, but I wonder how much more relaxing and rewarding it could be (not to mention better results, perhaps) to have someone else do it all.
- Something else she said struck an immediate chord: “Not having to listen to anyone but the voice in your head can be very relaxing”. When I’m under stress I can get inordinately irritated by someone having the TV on (even quietly) in another room, and so I do very much appreciate the chance of silence. Even soothing music can be too much at times, so I really did try to make the most of some silent times when I could, and I felt the stress easing immediately. How lucky I am to have access to silence!
- Sharon also gave me lots of advice, one great piece being “sipping hot chocolate as slowly as possible (shot of mead or other enhancement optional)”. I tried this (the unenhanced variety was good enough) and it was really very good indeed. I don’t drink hot chocolate very often so it’s a treat in any case, and really savouring it down to the last drop was a wonderfully calming experience. I’ve been doing the same with tea, too, choosing a really aromatic sort where the perfume lingers in the room.
- James passed on the tip that “setting aside some time at the beginning of weekend-days to do some of the small discrete tasks lets me enjoy the rest of the day”. This most definitely works for me, and I have grown to love the routine of going out and getting the weekend shopping done before breakfast on a Saturday – that way the shops and market are less crowded, and I invariably come home with some goodie or other for the breakfast table to boot.
- Keith said “I find the sound of sea birds and the tides to be quite relaxing”, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s something I miss when I’m in land-locked Southern Germany, but a river or a lake is quite a good partial substitute, or even just watching and listening to the water flowing along the Bächle (water channels) in Freiburg’s streets. At some point when the weather was mild a few days ago I opened the french windows and just enjoyed that sound floating up from the street – it must have been Sunday as the street was blissfully quiet otherwise.
- Niamh’s suggestions included “a bath with lots of bubbles in the dark, candles and a eye mask”. I’m not much of a bath person (I’m too impatient and much prefer showers under almost any circumstances), but I did bring out various candles to put in the living room, which in combination with softer artificial lighting had a wonderful effect, as well as providing that special intense but delicate warmth that the dullness of central heating can’t match.
- Claire reminded me of a tip I’d forgotten about, that “orange garments have the power to lift your mood”. I’m a big fan of orange and luckily it’s a colour that seems to suit me, so this seemed like a grand opportunity to do a wardrobe check. Unfortunately the only orange thing I could find that was seasonably suitable was a scarf, but hey – it was a lovely soft angora scarf and so the feel was as comforting as the colour was cheery. And I’ve promised myself I’ll keep an eye out for a lovely dark orange dress or tunic top the next time I go shopping.
So, thanks again to my lovely friends for all the wonderful suggestions – every one was appreciated and as you can see, each had its own appeal and benefit.