We find ourselves in the middle of a moment that none of us thought would ever land in. There’s something so incredible and awe inspiring in the way that the whole world has suddenly become joined together, joined together in the fight against something very real indeed.
I am blessed to be able to work from home, to have loved ones checking in on me and to have ways of living that keep me grounded. For my circumstances and my blessings at this moment, I am truly thankful.
Current events are turning our attention to our inner space, that of our homes, that of our bodies and that of our minds. All of those elements will be important over the coming weeks and months, but our mind and the relationship we have with ourselves will be most important of all.
Over the past few years I have done a lot of work on my inner environment, my mental wellbeing. A couple of years ago I wrote a blog about that very thing, and in remembering it this week, I decided to re-write it with a 2020 lens.
Many of us spent a large portion of our lives focusing on building physical homes for the people around us, when in actual fact, we needed to first focus our energies on a different kind of ‘home’ making; that of the home that we build inside ourselves, now more than ever.
Our internal environment has to come first because our sense of belonging, our sense of safety, our ability to love deeply and our truest sense of self has to start there.
So to real home making; what does it take to really create the time, space and energy to maximise your hours in the day and live your best life, even in isolation? To create a life that’s fulfilling and truly joyFULL; one that celebrates and allows space for all spectrum of emotion, whilst holding steady and feeling well in the midst of it.
Here are some of the things that have worked for me.
1. Clear the way so you can hear the messages from your inner most; spiritually and physically.
We live in a world of distraction and disconnection. Before we can move forward in any kind of positive direction, we need to give ourselves the chance to truly listen to what is at play in any given situation. My emotions used to jump up and down and all over the place, with all kinds of different situations triggering my fight or flight defences.
The thing that’s allowed me the space to really stabilise and walk in line with myself, is the work I have done (and continue to do) on stillness. That is, the art of just being. The art of connecting to yourself in such a way that you can determine what is for you, and what you need to let pass you by.
For me that has meant learning to meditate as the backbone, but that isn’t something that’s static and disconnecting me from the rest of the world. True meditation can happen every moment of your waking life if you let it, by simply living in a connected way. Start small, just a few minutes here and there, and see if you start to feel inspired to do a little more.
2. Honour your body and give it the space to rest.
Once you have cleared some space within yourself, you should start to tap into how you are feeling underneath everything. Even though life right now has become more sedentary, are you simply finding new ways to do too much?
Learn to make choices that support you being at your best, and support that by choosing to say yes to the things that are truly enriching, but no to the things that aren’t. At the moment, our cycles will be hugely important, especially for those of us working from home.
With the information overload that is available to you now, anxiety could start to impact your sleep. Having done a lot of work sleeping in general (quality, duration) I overcome that by holding my bedtimes and wakeup times sacred, and by allowing myself time to switch off from the world as I make a path towards bed. As much as possible, try to sleep and work in separate spaces.
3. You aren’t just what you eat, you are how you eat it too.
The focus on health today is a beautiful thing, but much of that is tied up with an overwhelming drive to achieve something that isn’t what we truly are. The truth is; much of our actual life-enriching health comes from the inside out.
Our mental wellbeing is huge, but also what we are consuming in terms of produce. How much, when and in what energy. Many of the things that we feel are ‘healthy choices’ are still being made in the wrong energy. That energy is one of disconnection.
Many of us will now have an open fridge in arm’s reach all day long, so it’s important to be honest and accountable about your relationship with food. In the moments where you feel inclined to overeat and eat something you know doesn’t serve you, stop for a moment and consider what is underneath it, and see whether you might like to choose a different way.
What you consume isn’t just about food, it’s also about energy. It would be very easy to look upon the next bit of time bleakly, and dive into every last scrap of news. Consider what you choose to take into your body super carefully, now more than ever.
4. Finding a structure that works for you is everything.
People are at their best at different times of day. I truly believe that. For me; that time is at the beginning of the day. I wake early, and have a morning routine that supports my connection, my health and my growth. That means a mixture of meditation, movement and learning. To support that, that means I need those early bedtimes.
It doesn’t matter how you are built or what works for you; the key is to find a way of being that works for you. Just you. Not me or anyone else. Craft a way of being that supports both your evolution and the brilliant human being that you are right now.
Given the lines may be blurring between home and work more than normal, consider having something that you do just before work, or just after, that draws a line in the sand. Perhaps it is singing to your favourite song at the top of your lungs, perhaps it’s star jumps on your balcony, perhaps it is just a cup of your favourite kind of tea.
My evenings are generally about rest, as I mentioned before, as someone who has a predisposition towards anxiety and overthinking, I have to work hard on my sleep. I aim to disconnect from the internet in good time and set myself up for the next day by doing my ‘love me later’ chores – the tiny little bits of effort that make my home feel like someone loves me in it. As someone who lives alone, loving me later has long become my operating model.
5. Flip the script; changing your inner dialogue.
Flipping back to mental wellbeing here; in most cases we are the master of our own internal destruction. That is to say; we are our own worst critics and therefore usually the most negative person we have in our world.
If this sounds familiar, I’m afraid I don’t have a quick fix here, but what I can say is that with time, patience and love, you can at least become aware of how you address yourself internally, and catch yourself in time to change the conversation. I literally say ‘no!’ to myself when I catch myself doing it, and force myself to change my attitude. Zero tolerance. We can choose better thoughts.
In time, I have become better overall and show myself much more forgiveness than I might have done before. I also tell myself ‘I love you’. Sounds crazy but it honestly works. Right now I have stepped that up a little; ‘you are safe, you are well, you are doing great, I love you and I’ve got you’.
6. Embrace your inner child.
With true joy comes playfulness, you can’t even help it. Allowing yourself some time to play is key. Create a couple of hours in your week where you do something you really love. Doesn’t matter what it is. Right now, that might mean cooking your favourite dinner or listening to your favourite album. Where possible, try to inject those things into your world.
Once you allow your natural curiosity to unfurl, its very easy to start to follow the trail of breadcrumbs (perhaps just online for now) to figure out what truly lights you up (if this is something you are still working on). Another good compass is to observe where you can feel yourself feeling jealous of something. Jealousy; whilst not our favourite emotion, is a sign of frustration with ourselves. So what is your jealousy telling you that deep down you feel like you might like to do?
Ultimately what I am trying to say here, is that it’s wonderful to have desires to live your best life and to work towards that, but that I promise you, it will all start to fall into line once you keep a firm check on the spiritual house you live within day to day.
I accept this moment with complete gratitude. Gratitude for my safety and gratitude for the love of those near and far. I also take this moment of time as a chance to learn and perhaps do a little remodelling, and work on the next build phase of my inner space.