Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Finding balance when the world is on pause

Family barbecues, spontaneous McDonald's pit-stops and the instant sense of calm I feel when weaving between bookcases in Waterstones are all foreign concepts to me now. It's strange to think how much has changed in the last few months.

When the year began, I would finish my commute after work and cherish the moment when I could step over the threshold into the house. Now, I look forward to getting out of it. Back then I felt like I was gasping for air - dividing myself between tasks and fighting for time. Now I have reams of it.

I'm not the only one, either. My social feeds are filled with people baking, reading, exercising, cooking, working, creating. It seems like we're all buckling under the same pressure to do and achieve, overfeeding our minds with online courses, tripping over to-do lists, filling our days with making things just so that we have something to show at the end of it.

But what I'm really trying to do during this time is find balance in, what is currently a very unbalanced world. Isn't there a strange flicker of beauty in this forced state of calm? Times are tough, to say the least. They're uncertain, unnerving, upsetting. And yet, as the world is thrown into complete chaos and the seasons change around us, we are trapped in a pocket of stillness, forced to press pause.

Admittedly, this is what makes the chaos outside of our brick homes and our driveways and our bedrooms all the more deafening. Moments spent between the pages of a book or magazine are now spent poring over the news, always refreshing. And refreshing. What I don't see live on TV I will see on social media, in texts from friends, in news alerts on my phone, my chest tightening with each buzz that brings me back down to earth with a thump. The small pieces of daily life that would normally keep me feeling grounded are now all that I know, and maintaining a mundane normality is suddenly a much heavier task. Which is why - more than ever - it's important to allow ourselves to feel calm when we can.

If starting the day with a to-do list is what helps you find peace, then do it. But do it for you. Not because you feel like you need to prove anything to anyone. A lot of people are referring to this vast ocean-floor of time as an opportunity, and in some ways that's true. If you feel like some of your creative hobbies have taken a backseat recently, or you have stacks of books beside your bed that you've been waiting to sink into, then absolutely - take this as an opportunity to enjoy those things. But likewise, if you feel like the last few months have had you scrambling from one thing to the next with little breathing space, then don't be afraid to use this time to slow down. The world is in a crazy state right now, so if you want to curl up with Disney Plus for a few hours (or days) in your comfy clothes, then I'm not going to judge you, and neither should anyone else.

I'm learning to soothe anxious thoughts by reinterpreting this time as a chance to do things that I love. I'm picking up my books, my laptop, my paintbrushes, but I'm also acknowledging that it's perfectly okay to simply enjoy some downtime with a film or TV show, because if there's one thing to remember during these trying times, it's to be kind to others and kind to yourself.

Stay safe everyone.

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