This past Friday was my grandfather’s 70th birthday which meant a trip up north to spend some time with family at the campground. We spent a few hours munching on Chinese food, enjoying cheesecake, and just hanging around a campfire. I checked my phone every now and then but there was no running around or flitting from one place to the other, there was just good food and good company. It was a nice change from the hectic lifestyle of multiple jobs and city living that I’ve been getting used to the past few months. Don’t get me wrong, I prefer the business over the long days of nothing all the time but sometimes it’s nice to just to find a moment to slow down.
This weekend’s little slow down helped me realize just how busy I’ve been, and I am realizing that I’m on my way to burning out if I’m not careful. This weekend was a good way for me to take a step back and to just relax. It’s something I realized I probably need more of in my life. Of course, I don’t always have the time to make the trip home and to sit around a fire. So with that in mind I thought it would be useful to create a list of things I can do to slow down in the city. And of course, that meant sharing the ideas with all of you. I’ve found a lot of the items on this list coincide with the items with my self-care post from eons ago but there’s some new additions as well.
Colouring or Journalling
There are a lot of beautiful adult colouring books out there but I will admit after trying one for myself I realized I don’t have the patience for colouring inside the lines. However, if you find a notebook or a notepad in my house you will likely find dozens of doodles of Felicity Smoak as well as random patterns that I’ve sketched all over papers. I don’t consider myself much of an artist but filling pages with doodles is quite calming.
I’ve turned my love of doodling into something slightly productive by keeping a bullet journal. My bullet journal is often about preparing for a busy week; it allows me to track my meals, to keep a running grocery list, and to know what day I have to be where, but it is also a creative outlet. New layouts and ideas for pages are a way for me to log off the computer for a while and to just focus on one thing. It’s good for clearing the mind and making sure things stay organized through all the chaos. Plus, as an added bonus my handwriting is getting neater.
Bubble baths are my number one feel good thing in general and they would go on a lot of different self-care and happiness lifts if I was ever to write more. I would say I love bubble baths more than the average person and I can easily stay in one for well over an hour if I have time. That being said, a quick fifteen minute bubble bath is also often enough to help me recharge and to just relax. There’s also been some studies that suggest bubble baths could burn calories but unfortunately it’s not enough to negate the need for meal planning and exercise. If only bath bombs and hot water were the secret to shedding those unwanted pounds, I wouldn’t struggle nearly as much as I do now.
I am someone who loves to sleep but over the years I have found I have a harder and harder time with this aspect of life. I used to be able to conk out right at nine or ten and then not wake up at all until six or seven in the morning, getting a good eight or nine hours. Unfortunately with one job that keeps me out late often, and a lessened ability to sleep right through the night, my sleep patterns just are not what I would like them to be. Long days mean I need a lot more energy to power through and little naps are often the way to make things work for me. There have been days where I’ll work a seven hour shift at one job and then have about three hours before I head off to a later shift at another. In those three hours I often try to squeeze in a little nap to help me get through the rest of the evening. In fact, I am writing this post after just having squeezed in a solid hour of midday sleep.
I know a lot of people struggle with napping, even though they’re exhausted and could really use the restorative powers naps can bring. There’s something to really be said about knowing what naps do to your body and how different timing of naps can effect you in different ways. One of the things I’ve used to inform my napping habits is the infographic below from The Wall Street Journal. My naps really range in length but I like to keep this information in mind, especially because avoiding 30 naps seems to be the way to go for me. I either do a really short 20 minute nap or I go full force for a 60-90 minutes since I seem to get the least amount of grogginess than these.
If you have the issue where naps just make you feel worse afterwards I suggest trying to nap in different places, positions, and for different lengths of time. You may just be able to find your sweet spot.
A Trip to the Coffee Shop
I am one of those people out of a romance movie that will sit in coffee shops for hours behind a laptop screen or with a notebook just doodling away. I like the music that Starbucks plays but really as long as the place has wifi I’m pretty content. The key to making coffee shops a slow down zone is to not just chip away at more work while you’re there. I don’t mind a little day planning but really if I’m using a solo coffee shop date to unwind it should be a time to detox from the work week by people watching and by enjoying an overpriced beverage or two.
Reading in Bed
You’ll notice how I’m very specific about where the reading takes place in this one. I think reading is pretty excellent just about anywhere and I’m very happy that I’ve been able to get back into reading for pleasure after struggling with it so much in university. But I’ve specifically listed reading in bed as one of my slow down ideas because I find that when I read in bed it is the place where I’m most likely to minimize all other distractions. Reading on transit involves being mindful of where I am, what I’m heading to do, and what’s going on around me. Reading on the couch often involves a computer screen beside me and my phone buzzing every now and then. But reading in bed is usually just reading. I’ve often put my phone away for the night and I’m just focused on whatever world exists on the pages before me. It’s easier to get lost that way.
Phone Calls with Friends and Family
If I didn’t have unlimited calling I would have the most outrageous phone bill ever. Where it’s easy for many of my friends to rake up hundreds of text messages a month, you are more likely to see me ending up with hours upon hours of call time. I’ve always preferred actual phone calls over text message and I am that person who will get lazy midway through texting and just call you because ‘I’m too tired to type’.
While I’ve probably lost the usefulness of quick text messages through this preference I do believe actual phone calls have a really therapeutic effect that texting does not. I call my mom pretty much every day and most of the time it’s been such a short time between our last phone call that we just say ‘I’ve got nothing new’ and then talk about something random. But those random conversations are a good way to unload and just stay in touch with whoever is on the other end of the phone. I always feel better after a long phone call and while I’m known for multi-tasking my way around the house while I’m on the phone, it still seems like a pretty good way to unwind.
There are many more relaxing things you can do without wandering off to the wilderness of course and I’m sure if I wanted to ramble on for another thousand words I could share some more ideas but instead I’m going to turn it to you: how do you slow down when life is crazy? What do you do to help stop yourself from burning out? Please share in the comments below!