I have been thinking recently about the importance of making space for ourselves, both figuratively and literally.
I have recently swum the rather choppy waters of sleep deprivation, crippling anxiety, and a hiccup in our finances. Quite the toxic combination, and one that has resulted in vivid (and sometimes hilarious) anxiety dreams; think Game of Thrones style peril, but wearing only flip-flops and undies. I realised in the middle of the squall, deep in the doldrums of February, that I was lacking space from which to gain some perspective. Lacking time to think about things rationally, time to create a plan. But when I finally made some proper time to sit with my journal and just think, I gained clarity and such a feeling of lightness.
It became apparent that sleep was the single biggest thing I needed. So I created a space for it. I made space mentally by stopping all work and blogging in the evenings. Other than half an hour of essential housework which I did with Dave, I went to bed, wrote in my journal, and slept, every night for weeks. We also night-weaned Auden and Dave took over the night parenting.
I created a literal space in which to sleep; a simple mattress on the floor of my study, away from Auden and Dave. I plumped and zjujed it and threw some favourite cushions and blankets on it. I put a lamp on an apple crate and put some magazines and favourite books on there- a symbolic act- even if I have only managed a few pages at a time! I gathered my favourite essential oils and put some flowers in a jar. I created a sleep retreat. It’s very simple but it makes me smile when I walk past the room; I literally silently thank it for giving me a space to rest and sleep.
We need space.
We need space to think.
And we also need spaces in which to ‘be us’ in, to feel held in.
I believe so wholeheartedly in the power of the space around us. How does your home feel to you? Does it reflect who you are? Is it a sanctuary? Is it somewhere that holds you? One that encourages the things you love or care about?
Heres are some ways I create space for myself. If you are feeling the need to create space- mentally, or physically, this might be useful for you too.
How to make space for yourself when you are feeling overwhelmed:
Put some boundaries on your time. For me that looked like closing my laptop before dinner and leaving it closed till the following day. No more work in the evenings.
Delegate something, or ask for help. Do your food shop online. Ask friends for help collecting/dropping kids off at school. Ask for help/collaboration in work (if you need it).
Go for a walk. Being outside is always transformative for my mood. It still surprises me how effective it is though! Listen to music or just wonder and think. I do this in the garden too.
Sleep. Maybe you don’t need to create a sleep nest like I did, but getting more sleep is so restorative and helps us to gain perspective and space in our minds; a fresh place from which to view stuff.
Create happy spaces. Create spaces that feel nurturing and make you feel happy when you are in or near them. Spending a few hours creating a space for yourself that really feels like ‘home’ to you, is a pretty transformative act of self care and taking up space, whether it’s a whole home overhaul or 1 area in your home. If you don’t know where to start, begin with one surface; your bedside table, or a shelf in the bathroom. Gather your most loved possessions, and include loved photo, a candle and some fresh flowers.
Make physical space for something you want more of in your life. Make some space in which to sleep, be creative, do exercise, read, complete work, eat nourishing food; whatever it is you need. Some examples: create a reading corner, declutter and prettify your desk, lay the table nicely ready for a nutritious meal, clear some floor space to lay your yoga/exercise/meditation mat down. Or create a play space for your kids- gather together some toys or books in one area to invite play. Make these spaces appealing too- create them near natural light, add plants and candles and soft textures. This scene setting can be so helpful in facilitating action; helping us to visualise the action we want to follow.
Make some time to think and journal (you know i”m going to recommend journalling if you don’t already! It’s such a revealing process. Free therapy! Blog post coming soon about it.)
If you’re feeling overwhelmed, find some things you can back out of. Clear some space in your calendar.
Invest some time and money in you- just you. A massage, a retreat, a new pen (!), a solo cafe date, whatever. You deserve it.
The more ways in which I claim space for myself, the calmer and more ‘me’, I feel, and the better I am able to be there for my family and friends. It is a constant work and one in which I need to keep myself accountable on. But it is a good work.
So whether it’s prettifying (great word) a couple of surfaces in your home, creating a physical space for your passion, or whether its asking for help or delegating some time consuming tasks, Claim that space.
So: where could you make some space for yourself?
Spring Day Retreat.
If you would like to join me and coach Ray Dodd at my Spring workshop, we will be discussing the topic of making space in more detail. I created this day precisely because of the revelations above! Ray will lead us in some work to create mental space and I will be discussing creating space in our homes. We will also make fresh floral wreathes too- which anybody can do, you don’t have to be a florist, or even consider yourself to be very creative!
Who should come to the retreat?
Anyone who feels like they need would benefit from taking a day out from their busy lives to reflect, rest, meditate and create.
It is in Faversham (just an hour from London) and is £140 which includes both the group coaching session and the creative session and delicious vegan food and cake.
I have had a cancellation and there are a couple of places left, so I am offering my readers a discount! If you would like to come there is a £20 off the fee, so it would be £120 with the code “MAKESPACEINSPRING’
I would so love to see you there!