Finding balance and calm when it all feels too much
How much of our lives do we spend trying to achieve balance?
As I've gotten older, I've realised that the 'balance' in life we all seek, perhaps isn't an attainable thing. I don't mean that in a negative way, I just think that some days/weeks we will inevitably do more of one thing than another, and the following days/weeks will be about compensating for that and shifting our priorites. I guess what I'm saying is that life isn't constant, it ebbs and flows, like the sea. And perhaps instead of finding balance, we should learn to ride the waves.
Because we do have waves in our life like the sea. Ups, and downs.
This week for me has been a bit of a down, and I will admit that I do sometimes feel a pressure to appear online like I'm swimming steadily above the water perfectly all the time, when in fact some weeks it feels like I could be drowning. It feels unprofessional to admit it, like I have to be okay all of the time. But really, who actually is okay all of the time?
Of course, I don't believe in spreading negativity, but I also really don't believe in toxic positivity. There has to be a mid ground, right? And shouldn't we all learn to talk about both the highs and lows in our life? (perhaps this is amplified even more right now when it feels like everybody's social media account is a glowing showreel of their life...Especially as I type this in the build up to Valentines Day, perhaps the showiest social media day of the year....and I say that as a married woman!)
Initially, this blog post was going to be an Instagram post, then an email to my email subscribers....and now here we are and it's ended up as a blog post! Just because I feel like I want to share my week with you and what's helped me, in the hope that it'll help you too.
So for those who don't know me, I am a Mum to 15 month old Oliver, and a part-time maker. My Husband and I are about to delve into a very exciting (and equally terrifying) business venture which looks like it's going to finally come into fruition this spring after 3 years of work (I can't tell you what it is right now, but I promise I will). I also suffer with chronic migraine which flares up when I'm stressed, and my family live 6 hours away so childcare is limited (thank God for my in laws!!!!)
This week has been rather chaotic. I don't want to bore you with the details, but in a nutshell:
-An important piece of my jewellery making equipment has broken. It's expensive, and I've got a lot to do but now can't solder anything until it's fixed
-An elderly relative has been taken ill, and is very unwell in hospital
-My son has 4 or 5 teeth coming through, and a cold which means I've barely had time to eat or even think.
-Lots of other small things have happened too, like finding a mouse in box of jewellery display kit and dealing with all of it's mess, forgetting to order half of the food shopping and just generally trying to deal with a load of ridiculous life admin.
Basically, I'm tired and fed up. And like so many Mums, there's a level of guilt that can come with that. It's an absolute privilege to be able to spend time with our children, shouldn't we be cherishing every moment? But realistically isn't it hard to cherish every moment when your sons new game is emptying the dishwasher when you're not looking?
It can be hard to find the time to eat, cook, clean, exercise, buy birthday presents, go to appointments, do work, do 10 tonnes of laundry a week...It's a juggle right? I love my son to pieces, and after losing my first pregnancy I'm grateful for him every day....But that doesn't mean some weeks aren't hard.
Most weeks, it's a breeze. This week, it isn't. I'm tired, and every day I've had to make a real effort to find parts of me again, because I feel a bit lost at sea.
But then it occurred to me how great it is that I know what to do in this scenario to help myself. I have previously suffered with anxiety and depression for years on end, and I have a strong family history of mental health problems too. So I am always on guard for signs of those and trying to make my life easier where I can.
So, I wanted to share with you the things I've done this week to rescue myself when things got tough, and to find a moment of calm...
1) Get out in nature. When my little boy started being particularly difficult and struggling with his teething pain, I felt like neither of us were getting any respite (imagine having 4 teeth come through at the same time!). So I decided to go for a walk, and it was one of the best moments of the whole week. We went to a local woods and he played happily running through the leaves and into little woodland dens...And I got to sit on a tree stump and watch him whilst managing to catch my breath. We were out of the house for 2 hours and were only half a kilometre from home. It wasn't a big adventure, but it felt wonderful!
2) Gardening. I've never been much of a gardener, but I've been loving watching things grow in the garden and taking care of the few plants I do have, so I decided this week to buy some seeds and try and grow some new things from seed. I bought a little plant pot from a lady up the road from me, and I'm excited to plant some lavendar in it to encourage bees into the garden. There's something really rewarding and mindful about watching plants grow, so definitely something to consider if you're feeling in a bit of a rut.
3) Exercise. I run regularly anyway, but it would have been really easy this week to not go, and to sit on the sofa eating biscuits instead. But I went out for all of my runs this week and feel so much better for it. Yes i'm tired, but my head feels so much clearer. If you're feeling overwhelmed, exercise is a really good way to stay in the moment, and focus your mind. And something like yoga, pilates or slow walking is a really gentle way to start.
4) Small luxuries. Think bubble baths, 15 minutes spent reading a book, lighting your favourite candle (I recommend anything by Whist UK, they're divine!) or just a little foodie treat (mine is Booja Booja....or Becky Excells' recipe for Gluten and Dairy free chocolate shortbread). I guess we can call it self care, but really its just a way to spend 15 minutes on something that feels a bit indulgent and helps us to reset ourselves when we're feeling stressed. We all need a treat.
5) A mindful walk. This is something that really helped me this morning. I felt obligued to do some work, but knew that really what I needed was a walk in nature, and it really made a difference. A walk without headphones in, just quietly observing nature, listening to the birds and sitting in the sun. It really does make a difference to unplug from technology and just immerse ourselves in the great outdoors. And if you don't have time for a walk, a garden or even just a shelf of plants in your home can be just as effective, as long as you're taking the time to really look and see. As a creative, sometimes I challenge myself to take interesting photos of all the beautiful things I see in nature on my walks or in my garden (which incidentally is pretty small), and I find that really inspiring and rewarding!
6) Wear things that make you feel safe and joyous. So, when I'm feeling particulary lost or fed up, I notice I instinctively make really considered choices about what I wear. I wear things that have sentimental value, especially jewellery. I might wear a scarf that my sister gifted me, or my favourite rings that remind me of nature and my Husband who bought them for me....Or I might get out a handbag that my Mum bought me for my 30th. It feels like these things are all tiny parts of me. They're like beautiful comfort blankets, tiny pieces of joy. And on the days where I feel most alone, it helps to have them to hand. Maybe you have clothes or accessories like this too?
These are all things that I've put into practice this week, and they've really helped me to calm down and feel less overwhelmed. So I wanted to share them in the hope that they help you too.
I don't think balance is something we should really try and achieve in life, but perhaps it's something we can try and achieve within ourselves? If we have the tools to know what we need to do in times of stress and overwhelm, then creating harmony within ourselves feels so much more doable, right?
Of course, it's also really important to know that we are allowed to feel tired, sad, stressed, overwhelmed etc...And sometimes I think it's really important to sit with those feelings and just allow them some space.
But where stress is concerned, often what we need is just a little space to be ourselves. Whether that's watching TV, gardening, baking, cycling, photography or whatever you love to do most (actually I wrote a post on why we all need creativity, you can read it here).
So if you've had a rough week too, I hope your coming weeks provide some respite, and I hope the ideas above help you to reconnect to you!
If you have any other ideas for finding a moment of calm, share them in the comments below, and please do let me know if you found this helpful, its always wonderful to read your comments.
P.S, If you'd like to check out my nature inspired jewellery, you can find it at www.gemmatremayne.com
And, for more creative musings, early access to new designs, my inspiration, beautiful nature images, notes on eco-consciousness, musings on mindful living and of course helpful jewellery tips and tricks. I'd love to invite you to join my Email Friends I promise my email letters will always be inspiring and informative!
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Life has so many ups and downs, just like waves in the ocean. Sometimes it's hard to see over some of the bigger waves, but being by the sea and seeing it's magnitude can make us realise how lucky we are to even be here at all.