Since I work a more than full-time job, write and am raising a family, I find that recharging is imperative to keeping it all together. It’s also the most neglected part of my life. Often when I’m engaging in those activities that nourish my soul, I find myself thinking “I should be working” or “My manuscript is waiting to be done.” It’s hard to shut off those voices, and sometimes the very act of trying to recharge becomes as stressful as not doing it at all.
That’s no good.
Here are three tricks I’ve come up with:
1. Schedule this time. There’s something freeing about having a time that is designated for yourself. You’re worth it. Do it.
2. Don’t let have-tos infringe on this time. This is what I mean: often my outlets can become projects for other people. In comes the stress again. Try to focus more on what you’re doing for you.
3. Put your foot down when it comes to work hours. My job could literally run from the time I get up until the time I go to bed and there would always be more to do. Designate “work hours” and stick to them.
As far as outlets go, I find there are a few things I really like to do, things that free my brain, “de-stress” me, and get my creativity flowing again.
I love to scrapbook and make cards. This is perhaps my greatest outlet. Strangely, most of my cards are never sent to other people. I just make them as something artistic to do or I give them away to other people to use. I used to make all my Christmas cards but that got to be a chore so I stopped.
I draw. I’m not a doodler. I’m very good at still-lifes and animals. Sometimes I draw people, but they’re sketchy. Portraits aren’t my strong suit. Often I’ll just open a magazine and sketch animals that are in photos. Or I’ll ‘copy’ a book cover into black and white pencil.
I sing or play the piano. I can’t do both at the same time. I’m part of a choir and I’m part of a contemporary band (as a singer). I’m also a soloist at church. Music has always been an outlet for me. Sometimes if I’m stressed, I just get in my car and drive and blast the radio. Or I’ll drive and sing, sometimes off-key, at the top of my lungs.
Most importantly, I just find some time to be alone. I think this is the place I’m often short-changed and where others are, too. Since I work at home, I’m not surrounded by office personnel all the time, but I do have family members around me constantly. When part are at school, others are at home. When others are working, the rest are at home. Being alone, in silence, is the most important creative outlet I have, and it’s the most difficult to get. I’ve found that in the constantly spinning world around me, solitude is the one thing I need daily in order to recharge. I actually start to shake with built up stress if I don’t get it. I’m a real crank, too. I require a time when I know I’m not going to be interrupted mid-thought or startled out of my skin or subjected to other people’s noise. When I can, I go to the park or again, take a drive, or take a walk…anything to be alone with my thoughts. Ironically, I’m the only one in my family who desperately needs this.
Or who knows I need it. I think many people would be surprised by how rejuvenating they’d find a few minutes silence and “aloneness” if they tried it.
In this holiday season, I’d encourage all of you to find some recharge time. Perhaps you need a few minutes of solitude or an artistic outlet. Find it and immerse yourself—guilt-free—for a short while every day. I hope you find a calm and well-being that will see you through this hectic time so that you can have a merry holiday with your sanity intact.