Finding your Flow in the midst of Chaos
I know a lot of people are struggling with adjusting to this lifestyle we are all forced to live at the moment. I wanted to share how I dealt with having no routine and feelings of guilt when I spent yet another day in bed.
I started working as a flight attendant 2 years ago, and for the first time ever my full-time job was practical, hands-on and there was no routine whatsoever. Whenever I got home from a trip, with my body clock being all over the place and I was seriously lacking sleep; instead of just giving myself rest for 1 or 2 days, I started feeling guilty for not ”being productive”. Because for so many years productivity for me meant checking off to-do lists, improving some sort of skill and working traditionally on a computer, in my brain, the work I actually did didn’t really count, so I had to do something when I got back home.
Don’t get me wrong, if you’d watch me on a lot of days, you’d never think that of me. I never needed a lockdown to not leave my bed, let alone the house for days. I know that if I let my body, I’d probably morph into a baby koala, who sleeps about 20 hours a day. I could binge Netflix series after series, and order takeaway food for every meal. However I also know how I’d feel about myself and the state of my mental health after an extended period of this lifestyle.
On the other end of the spectrum, I can start my days really motivated with a morning routine straight out of Pinterest, cook up a banging breakfast, probably take pictures and write up a recipe about it as well, and then start working on the blog, researching topics, watching inspiring videos, plan out my week, my quartal, throw in a quick workout, go through a few modules of my holistic health course, the list goes on and on and on. A few days of this and I crash.
It’s either a splitting headache or a feeling of ‘what’s the point anyway’ in the morning.
Learning the Middle Path
I have started to recognize the warning signs and know that when they happen, it’s time to slow down again. While for a long time I jumped between the one extreme to the other, I am finally grasping the middle path.
"From science we know that if you pull a pendulum thirty degrees to the right, it will swing back until it’s thirty degrees to the left. All the laws are the same – inner laws and outer laws. The same principles drive everything in this world." - from The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
The funny thing about feeling or being productive is that we don’t tend to recognize that when we keep doing, doing, doing and then eventually and undoubtedly crash or burn out, it takes so much longer to get back up and create once again. It doesn’t matter whether the moment of crashing happens after a few days or a few years, it will eventually happen and the more we have exhausted ourselves, the longer it takes to get back into equilibrium.
Another thing to note is that, when we keep pushing ourselves even though we’re craving rest, the longer it takes to finish a task. I don’t know about you, but when I’m trying to force myself to be creative or to get something done, I could sit in front of a blank page for hours or try and read one sentence 10 times without having understood it.
On the other hand, if I just give myself the downtime I need and then get back to being productive, I am bursting with energy and creativity.
Since being on lockdown (and furlough), I am starting to integrate a routine back into my life. Despite my previous aversion to routine (one of the reasons I left my office job was my dislike for the 9-5 life), humans tend to operate better on them. I have learned that there are different kinds of routines and that to be our best selves, integrating healthy habits is important.
Here’s a great article on the psychology of routines!
My routine now has nothing to do with doing the exact same thing every day. It’s more like, waking up at a certain time in the morning, writing down or thinking about what I feel grateful for, doing an hour of learning, and then see how I feel. Whether it’s a high energy day and I do everything I’ve been pushing away for days and more, or a low energy day and I do nothing, I am learning to accept whatever it is.
Finding my Flow
It took me a while, but I know myself well enough now to know how my energy differs from day to day. I’m trying to map it out a bit better, by comparing it to the moon and my menstrual cycle (read the book Wild Power if you want to find out more about this) and feeling how long the ‘highs’ last, by writing down when I’ve had a clear high day, and the same with the ‘lows’. So far it’s going great! I am alternating between lying in bed and watching Netflix and doing workouts, between reading a book and working/cleaning in the house and garden, between writing content and talking to my family and friends, and between learning new things and daydreaming.
If you would like to learn more about finding balance, I can recommend finding out a bit more about the teachings of Tao te Ching. I’ve only recently come across this and it really resonates with me. Lao-tzu talks about the Tao, which literally translated means “The Way”, however it can’t be defined as it is different for everyone (that’s my understanding of it anyway). Embracing Taoism means accepting your way, your flow, your life.
You don’t have to be productive. You don’t have to be anything. Just be.