Sometimes things get you down and everything feels a bit hard. A well-meaning piece of advice feels like an attack. An old friend who has been busy feels a little like an abandonment. And a place you love to exist in suddenly becomes claustrophobic and difficult. You feel trapped. You need to spend some time centering yourself. Stress creeps up on you like that; it’s too late to avoid until you’re already there.
It’s okay to feel like that. Because sometimes it IS hard, and life DOES just get up your back and you feel two steps away from a panic attack at all times. Me, when I feel like that, I try to strip it down and simplify things. Can I cut out tasks? Stop checking my phone for a few days, drop the occasional chore, put my book back on the shelf until I have a little more time and things feel clearer? Do I need to go downstairs and cook for thirty minutes or can I have a nap? I retreat into familiarity; not quite the same as comfort. Rewatching cartoons I first watched decades ago and listening to albums I know well. I don’t want to give my brain the additional task of processing something new.
Emerging from one of these stressful states can be disorientating. Who am I again? What do I do? After a period of intense stress, I find it trying to create anything. Often, I’ll have been working incredibly hard on one particular thing and after mining all of that energy, the idea of switching over to something else feels exhausting. If I’ve been writing an album, I can’t then sit down and write a book. It should be two separate areas of creating. But I don’t know. I guess it’s not.
I have spent most of my adult life trying to work out how my creative energy works best. How to best mine it, how to achieve the best results, where to focus it. And it seems every now and then I will reach a new period of life and have to reconsider what I have learned so far. That could exhausting – sometimes you just want things to work, y’know? But I don’t know, maybe it’s a good thing, like a built-in break. It’s okay to have to sit down and get real with yourself for a moment.
Slowly, I’ve been learning the best ways to centre myself and recover from one of these stressful, long trials. That taking time to be by myself, to meditate and practise mindfulness, is key. Sparing myself a few hours alone. Being in nature. And focusing on everything that has happened; not really processing so much as just allowing my brain to settle on images. And some of the things that have helped me most are incredibly simple and easy, and I thought I’d share them with you. You know. Just in case.
So here is my advice for you.
Sit on the bed, or under a tree; someplace you feel calm and free.
Find a spare sheet, a new page in a book; write down what you gave, what you learned, what you took.
Remember your qualities (and also your flaws); recall how you work, how you grow, your laws.
Note down what you see, who you are, how you feel; and just take a moment to get a little real.
Good luck. x