One of the things I’ve been talking about with my therapist this year is thinking about how much of my time I spend doing ‘productive’ things and following a to do list, vs doing things to help myself recharge the mental batteries (shock horror: I need to chill out on pressuring myself to be productive).
I feel like I’ve been constantly adjusting how I make my to do lists since I started my bullet journal in 2017 – there was a point where I’d have 5 ‘major’ tasks and 3 ‘minor’ tasks, a point where I’d let leftover tasks sit on my list all week then reassign them on a Sunday, a point where I used time blocking in an app called tiimo to plan not just what I do but when I do it. But I’ve never found anything consistent because I’ve realised that no one is and I don’t have to be!
At the moment, I have a few tasks that I am to do daily, I have a morning routine and an evening routine that I try to do as many steps as I can but even just one is enough and then a few tasks that I set myself each day to try and do something meaningful with my day, whether it’s working on something for my professional skillset while I’m between jobs or doing practising something for no reason other than I want to (like playing the piano!).
But doing something relaxing for the sake of relaxing is something I really have had to practise at – getting back in touch with my creativity has been a fantastic outlet for me and doing things that let my mind go quiet (and not by drowning it out) is helping me learn so much about what is energy draining and what is replenishing.
So here are my favourite ways to really switch off at the moment, just in case you need some inspiration too.
I have so many Christmas themed cross stitch kits from Hobbycraft and I had a half finished one on my side table by the sofa since December, so since finishing that and rediscovering how therapeutic I find the repetitive and precise nature of cross stitch has been really lovely (and technically, I’m making a start on some Christmassy gifts!).
Following a pattern and sewing pretty colours into cute pictures is a lovely way to feel creative without feeling too overwhelmed with where to start. But one thing leads to another – these kits always come with my embroidery thread than the design needs, so I really enjoy using up that extra thread to expand the existing design, or using the thread to make a brand new piece further down the line.
I got a kit from the Range that was some very simple flowers and I reckon I only needed 25% of the thread provided, so I used the excess to make a colourful border. Then I started using excess from other kids and now I have a full design that’s completely full of colourful cross stitches. It’s been so much fun to work on and now that it’s (nearly) finished it’s very satisfying too!
Extra bonuses are that I love the way the cloth feels when it’s completely filled with stitches (it’s so soft and I love the texture) and it’s a mostly-mindless activity that I can pair with another thing I find relaxing; listening to audiobooks. It’s like the mindless background TV show but you actually don’t need to look at anything. Bliss!
I don’t think this one is a surprise, considering I’ve almost completely focused my blog to be about books now and I literally just tagged on audiobooks to the cross stitch section!
I was one of those kids who would sneak out of bed at night to read, then I was the teenager that fell out of love with reading because studying English killed any enthusiasm I had for literature and I grew up with the rise of the internet and the birth of YouTubers (plus, I read a lot of fanfiction).
In 2019 I properly dedicated myself to reading and ever since then it’s been a journey towards reading more and more each year. The unread books in my house sits at an unreasonable 331 and The Works always having a 3 for £6 deal is dangerous for that total and my bank account, but I adore that I’ve been able to turn something that was such a pivotal part of my personality as a child back into my adult life.
I love reading. I love posting on Instagram and TikTok about reading. I love talking about books. And one day I might just get round to finishing another one of my own! I’m manifesting ‘published author’ into my future.
Drawing on my iPad
Updating my iPad last year was a spontaneous decision that I probably should have thought about more, but knowing that has made me all the more determined to make it worth it.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not a good artist; I have no definitive style, I usually have absolutely no idea where to start and there’s so many skills I’ve seen on TikTok that I have absolutely no idea how to do, but I am enjoying it.
I started by tracing outlines of some of our wedding pictures and making minimal colour block pictures. I practised adding my handwriting to some blog headers and learning about different techniques available in the ProCreate app. I’ve even downloaded some colouring pages that I’m going to outline and colour on the plane to our honeymoon next month.
It’s not something I’m good at, but as a depressed-former-gifted-kid (yes, that stereotype), not doing something perfectly straight away is something I’m really bad at. So not only am I spending some time relaxing and exploring my creativity while learning something new, I’m practising being bad! And hopefully one day I’ll be less bad, then maybe even good.
But at the moment, I’m enjoying the process without thinking too much about the ‘worth’ of what I produce at the end.
This is another one that goes excellently with an audiobook.
Basically, any excuse to spend more time listening to audiobooks!
Thank you for reading,