This has been a fraught week, for me and for just about everyone I know – as if something has wafted in on a breeze, determined to mess with even the best laid plans. No matter how much you try to simplify your life, unforeseen stresses will still come calling. There are a myriad of options for dealing with everyday stresses, the supreme one being distraction; doing something out of the ordinary to take your mind off of the situation in front of you.
Immersion in meaningful work might help - sometimes sitting down with a craft project, violently kneading bread dough or maniacally cleaning the kitchen on a whim is just the ticket to make you feel more centred. Then again, sometimes it is a recipe for more frustration, stress and exhaustion. In the midst of the dramas, I didn't have the energy to think of any distractions that would bring me respite, which meant that I resorted to the premier distractions of our age – mindless TV and mindless Internet browsing - both of which distracted me with very little effort on my part but left me feeling as stressed and even more lacklustre than before.
Life has calmed down again, but in preparation for the next bad day that comes my way, I have written a list of little things to take my mind off of things. All of them are things that bring me joy but are certainly not routine for me; some of them are productive, some are completely vacuous, all of them require very little effort, money or energy expenditure on my part:
1) Go for a solitary 20 minute walk down to the sea and paddle awhile, before meandering back via the ice cream stand.
2) Take a solo trip to the allotment with a flask of tea, to sit and stare and perhaps pull the occasional weed should the mood strike.
3) Paint my nails a cheeringly antisocial colour (or several), take time to wear my hair a new way, wear makeup or get overly dressed up for an otherwise routine day.
4) Ignore all but the most essential routine housework and throw myself into the more interesting tasks that I never quite find the time for – painting the front door or learning to make soap, for example.
5) Buy a magazine or a book, something I rarely do these days; and devote time to reading it, even if that means the laundry stacks up.
6) Take a small but solid step towards one of my long term goals; a step that can’t possibly be justified amidst all the day to day dramas – but which ultimately moves me in the right direction.
7) Try a new recipe, probably for something sweet and desert like – and eat a lot of it, of course.
8) Take my son to a big wide open space; and watch him run around contentedly like a crazy thing until blissfully worn out and ready for bed. A little hands-off parenting when mental energy escapes me.
I will add to this list no doubt as I remember the little things that bring me peace. What little things bring you joy when life goes a little crazy?