A couple of years ago, I joined a yoga class. I’ve never been able to meditate but after an hour of yoga I felt mentally calm and physically relaxed, and the class has been a regular part of my self-care routine ever since. During one class, something my instructor said resonated with me when she described the stretch we were practising as “making space in the body”, and I realised I needed to make space in other areas of my life too.
Both at work and in our personal lives, my husband and I often felt like our lives revolved around meeting other people’s needs, and we were sometimes so busy caring for others that we had little time or energy leftover to care for ourselves.
Yet even while struggling under the weight of obligations and in the midst of turmoil, we found solace together in quiet evenings at home taking it in turns to read chapters of the Harry Potter books to each other, or ambling hand in hand along a secluded beach we found (which became our favourite escape), confiding our fears and hopes for the future in each other as the sun slipped beneath the horizon. These intimate and restorative moments sometimes seemed like lanterns in the darkness, strengthening our resolve, and guiding us towards the peace and simplicity we both longed for.
Learning to say “no” to people who were used to us acquiescing to all of their requests (and in some cases, unreasonable demands) was, and still is, a challenge, and it caused some friction as we adjusted our boundaries with them. Yet the most difficult people were always counterbalanced by all the kind and supportive people in our lives who loyally stood by us through the darkest times, and focusing on our relationships with these family members, friends and even colleagues helped us to keep the more challenging relationships in perspective.
As we began to feel less harassed, we set about tackling the numerous little jobs that had been accumulating around our home, gradually decluttering and downsizing our possessions. We felt physically lighter every time we donated a bag of clothes to a charity shop or took a box of stuff to be recycled, and our home became a more pleasant and tranquil place to inhabit.
Now, as the build up to Christmas begins, and the dates in our calendar start to fill up, it would be easy to fall back into old habits, but we’re still finding ways to simplify our lives and make space for ourselves. Have a lovely week.