A little piece of sanity

A quiet moment of ritualistic contentment. A simple pleasure. A wee moment of unadulterated peace and quiet. I firmly believe we all need them. Those moments in which you breathe deeply, straighten out the kinks in your spine, remind yourself just how fierce you are, and calm your centre. They’re the moments that re-energise and re-fresh you, re-centre and re-set. They are an introvert’s daily haven and a luxury extroverts often take for granted. And they make the world go around.

As an ambivert (or, more specifically, an ENFP/Campaigner – the most introverted of the extroverted personality types) I am all too familiar with how quickly life can get away with us. I fill my time with friends and hobbies and noise. I book my weekends weeks in advance and surround myself with music and the hustle and bustle of life. And then one day, in a quiet moment, I wonder why I’m so tired.

I’m tired because I’ve lost those little moments of sanity. And I am so tired. After months of moving, burglaries, money problems, job hunting and career uncertainty, study, new routines, new friends, a new relationship, travel, late nights, homesickness and germs I am exhausted. On Thursday, midway through date night with my wonderful boyfriend, I developed flu-like symptoms. I have barely left bed since. Two pairs of pyjamas, a duvet, two blankets, two hot wheat bags and the aforementioned boyfriend snuggling me weren’t enough to keep my teeth from chattering so hard I almost chipped one. It was the last straw.

Some people walk or run. Some listen to music. Some paint or write. Some knit. Some cuddle their pets. Some, like my boyfriend, play computer games. Some find their peace in that first morning coffee 10 minutes before the house rises. Some in their early morning walk to work. I enjoy and value all these things. But my true sanity lies in literal self-care. Most specifically, in the ritual of bathing. The hot water, the steam, the aromatics and the soft and rough sensations of scrubs and moisturisers on my body. In those small moments of routine and cleanliness I find my centre.

Today, after an amazing (and exhausting) lunch with a good friend, I wandered into Lush and bought a cacophony of peace and deliciousness. Bath bombs, shower scrubs, body butter, face masks and exfoliants. I stocked up. I spent the princely sum of $100 for what will amount to months of happiness and sanity. Aromas of rose, lavender, peppermint, lemon and sandalwood fill my bathroom now, tempting me every time I walk in. And tonight, finally, after dinner and chores and further exhaustion brought on by basic tasks, I let myself seek my solace.

My bath was heaven. Peace. Quiet. Solitude. Heaven. I lathered on a face mask, filled the tub with marshmallow scented pink water, scrubbed myself down with green sugar and rubbed cocoa body butter into my skin. I read my book and let my concerns leak from my mind with every line on the page. I lit a candle and closed my eyes and drifted. And slowly but surely every broken piece of my core glued itself back together.

You see, you don’t need to fork out a tonne of money or go somewhere exotic to relax. You don’t need trained practitioners, expensive treatments or complicated detoxes. You just need to take a few moments, however brief or stolen, entirely for yourself. Regularly. You owe it to you to be calm and content. No one else will look out for you first, however much they may love you. No one else can see your true exhaustion or how lost you may feel inside. That’s all you. Only you can ease that confusion. Only you can dim that noise.

A friend recently told me a secret. She said that no one really knows what they’re doing or where they’re going; that everyone is just faking it and hoping for the best. And she’s right. But in moments like these, in my little pieces of sanity, I feel like I can put the puzzle of the world back together.

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5 things to always remember (and one thing to never forget)

Being an adult is hard. It can be made even harder by those little curveballs life likes to throw at us to remind us we’re alive (and how miserable that can sometimes be). I often look back on the hardest times of my life and realise those are where the best lessons lay, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t wish for a light in the darkness at the time.

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So for future me, when things get hard again, and for everyone else struggling with something right now, I present five things to always remember (and one thing to never forget).

  1. Don’t hold on.      Every time something or someone angers or upsets you you have two choices: Do something about it or let it go. If it’s a person who is causing you stress try to remember that they probably don’t realise and it probably isn’t intentional. Give them the benefit of the doubt. And if you can manage it, talk to them. You don’t have to make a big production of it or get up in arms; just calmly and quietly mention that an action or behaviour of theirs is upsetting you. If you can’t or won’t mention it then understand you have made that choice and let go of the frustration. People can only fix what they’re aware is a problem and it’s not your job to carry the discomforts and choices of others with you. You’re worth more.
  2. Be kind to yourself.     You are human. That means you’re fallible; you won’t always get everything right. That’s okay. Sometimes the worst mistakes become the best lessons. Try to remember that everyone makes mistakes and forgive yourself for yours. After all, once you’ve made a mistake you’re unlikely to repeat it.
  3. Be humble… in moderation.     Bragging may not be an appreciated behaviour in Western society but that doesn’t mean you always have to put yourself down. Celebrate your successes, and when you feel low celebrate them even harder. Did you get out of bed today despite every fibre in your body telling you not to? Congratulations! I’ve had those days and I know how hard it was to swing the covers back, plant my feet on the floor and tell myself I was going to “adult” like a grownup all day. Be proud of your achievements; you’re worth it.
  4. Be a child sometimes.     Have you ever looked at yourself in the mirror and just wanted cuddle your mum or hide in a blanket fort? Do it, then. That’s fine. Some days are harder than others and sometimes being a grown up is too much. Take care of your mental health and your physical heath first and foremost. And, when the urge hits you, go and do something silly like play a round of mini-golf or look at rock pools at the beach. Appreciate the tiny things that make you happy. Tiny things, one after the other, have the ability to move mountains.
  5. All you need to do is put one foot in front of the other.     This is the hardest to remember and, also, I feel, the most important. You don’t need to know where you’re headed or what’s around the next bend. If you can’t think past tomorrow then definitely don’t think past your next meal. Take each event and each day one at a time, do the best you can, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I have battled many demons and my sheer stubbornness and determination not to be beaten is what I credit with getting me through, even when I didn’t always know where I would end up. You can do it. You are stronger than you think.

And never forget: You are loved. It may not be in the way you want right now; it may not be by the person you want. You may not even know it. But I guarantee you are. Hold onto that knowledge, hold onto those people if you can, and remember that you matter. You always matter.

So there’s my list. I don’t claim to be a psychologist or some sort of guru, but I know what’s helped me out over the years, through bad days, bad moments, and full blown depression. I hope they can help you.

Do you have any other tips on getting through the hard parts of life? Let me know in the comments.