avoid stress

I often find myself wondering how on earth it is possible that — even after those often celebrated inventions such internet, cars, and the laundry machine — we still find ourselves incredibly busy all day every day. We continuously think of ways to do things faster (and often succeed in doing so), but I guess we simultaneously think of ways to do more in the same amount of time. So instead of ending up with more off-time, we end up with a serious need for multitask-skills to tackle that impressive to do list.

At various points in my life (and I think every single one of you can relate), I’ve found myself on the edge of my capabilities. Last year, it happened again and I knew I could not go on the way I did forever, so the last couple of months I’ve tried to make some changes. This post is devoted to the things that worked for me — that helped me unwind and avoid stress. Perhaps it’ll help you too!

avoid stress

This is probably the most rewarding thing I’ve ever tried. I’ve noticed that multiple activities on one day make me nervous, so I limited myself to two. For example, when I have class in the morning, I can meet up with a friend later that day, but that will then be it, even if I have plenty of time in between. I’ll devote that time to myself; to study, to get some cleaning done, or whatever, as long as it doesn’t take me somewhere I’m expected to be. Naturally, this is something that might be different for everyone (I’m not that spontaneous and outgoing, so I can easily feel overwhelmed), but consciously saying ‘no’ to activities in favor of some off-time you can spend however you like really can be liberating.

The above advice goes hand in hand with this one, because those who have difficulties saying ‘no’ often ‘suffer’ from a fear of missing out. It can be hard to suppress this feeling, because nowadays, the world seems to move so fast and everyone around you seems to be on top of their game. It’s hard not to try to keep up. Battle this fear with the notion that quality is always more important than quantity. You don’t have to be dancing the night away every Saturday night, going to a big festival every once in a while can make you just as happy. The same goes for work or studies: Don’t be afraid to tackle one task after another instead of everything at once. Doing things more slowly enables you to do it with more focus, so you’ll enjoy it more, learn from it better, and — hopefully — reach a more satisfying end result.

Kobo e-reader

Don’t fall in the same the trap I did when I figured that doing things you love automatically means it’s relaxing or unwinding. I love my studies, I love blogging, I love hanging out with friends — don’t get me wrong — but when something is in some way ‘pre-arranged’ or ‘obligatory’, you’re not able to completely relax. It still is something you ‘have to do’. Unwinding, for me, is to sit down and to do whatever I like to do, even if that is nothing in particular, and — even more importantly — to not feel guilty about that.

Closely related to the above is something I find myself struggling with over and over again: to be able to do something without a purpose. Each time I find something new I like to do to relax — the latest example being knitting — I somehow manage to turn it into something with a purpose — a one-day-in-the-future-knitting-shop. So now all my knitting evolves around improving myself, which totally misses the point and the purpose it once served, namely relaxation. Not that I don’t like the evolution, but I knew I had to find another activity-without-a-purpose.
In my case, the Kobo e-reader my boyfriend gave me a while ago (I’ve got this waterproof one, very holiday-appropriate!), and which features on the photos in this post, has fulfilled this quest. Reading a book had been crossed off of my relax-activities-list long ago, since I thought I already did enough reading for uni. Besides, why read something that is not of an informative nature? That will not provide me with ready-to-go tips and advice or other kinds of input? Well, that was exactly the wrong thought, fueled by the wish to be continuously productive, even when reading ‘for fun’. The easiness of this e-reader made me start reading just for the sake of reading again. To pick up a ‘book’ and get lost in the story and think of nothing else. It’s sincerely rewarding to find a ‘purposeless’ activity that you like!

cat in bed

06 relax 05

Well, here’s to a lovely new day to make some changes in your schedule if needed!

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  • juni 19, 2016 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Love this post! And it is so timely! The last months have been crazy, I am trying to fit too many things in my day and always feel frustrated when I don’t have enough time. So I have a new routine now. At 8 p.m. I turn off my computer and just do things I enjoy, without any purpose – read, stretch, manicure, walk, eat :) I made such a huge difference! I feel more energized and alive!

    • Merel
      juni 20, 2016 - 8:35 am | Permalink

      Hi Alina, that’s such a good advice! I’ve been trying to do that too: claim the evenings for me, to do whatever I please. Unfortunately, I’m always struggling between 1) doing more and feeling more satisfied, and 2) taking time to myself and feeling more relaxed. I’ve calculated once that I need to work a minimum of 9 hours a day (7 days a week) to be able to finish all my studies, work, household and blog activities. That’s just crazy and trying to live up to that will cause disappointment for sure. Anyhow, I think the trick is (and here my rambling reaches a conclusion) to learn how to be at peace with taking time to yourself after a reasonably productive day. Which is exactly what this post is about haha!

      Thanks for your lovely comment!

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