I write a lot about what to do when there is too much on your plate. Long weeks and heavy work loads seem to be the name of the game lately but every so often the universe gives us the gift of time and space. The trick is not to fill it up – as we are often so tempted to do when we catch a spare moment. The day will pass, time has a way of marching on even when we feel stuck or busy, but we can choose to use our unscheduled time with intention.
Free time is our opportunity to rest, recover, and reflect but so often the way we spend our free time leaves us just as drained and exhausted as if we had worked a full day. Therefore when we find ourselves facing an empty agenda it helps to take a moment to think and set an intention for the day.
Setting my intention – Do I want to feel energized? Do I need rest? What does my mind, body, heart, spirit ask of me today? These are some excellent questions I use to figure out what I need for myself in the day. This way I don’t loose myself in social media or in a Netflix binge and wonder where the day has gone and why I am so hungry. For instance, today I have noticed our family is a bit on edge and so we took a trip to the library. New books always put us in better moods and having an adventure that doesn’t cost anything but feeds our minds and souls is one wonderful way I take care of my family and myself.
Eating well – What foods do I like or need to feel nourished? In our house a diet consisting of primarily meatballs and meatball derivatives would satisfy half of our household at all times. For those of us who prefer more variety than just ground meat this includes indulging my cravings for a hearty salad and vegetables. It means making cookies on cold days or preparing soups that we can warm up later in the week for a satisfying non-meatball based dinner.
Making space for fun – I already talked about watching mindless television and how that can suck my energy without leaving me feeling particularly satisfied but I do want to offer a caveat to that rule. I feel better when I watch something that I love – if I cuddle up to watch any film in the Norah Ephron or Nancy Myers Library, Sabrina, or recently Good Omens by Neil Gaimen – these creative endeavors leave me feeling inspired and engaged.
When you watch something fulfilling, or write an extra page in a journal, you indulge yourself and give yourself the space to think differently. Activities that allow us to imagine and play leave us more refreshed and alive than had we just vegged out in front of a stressful news program or show that doesn’t particularly interest us. Don’t waste your own time, give yourself the gift of being attentive to your intention and doing something that brings you joy.
Being productive – If you insist on being productive or completing a task give yourself a time limit. I sometimes find when I have a day where nothing needs to be done I fill it with errands – grocery shopping, deep cleaning the stove, or starting a small home renovation project. Don’t fill your day with obligations but if you do need food in the house give yourself a time limit. Take an hour to run to the shops but be sure to honor yourself and your own time and be home to lay out on the couch with a good book and a hot tea. Show up for what you need not just what everyone else wants.
Quality Time – Quality time can be by yourself or with a friend, partner, child, whomever you like and admire and want to share your time with on this day of nothing. If you’d like to call a friend and catch up or hide in your bed and read both are acceptable and equally valid uses of your time. I have decided to dig out a recipe for fall cookies that my grandmother used to make and I plan to make them with my children this afternoon. It’s not a huge undertaking or a difficult task. There’s sugar involved so we’ll all have fun making snickerdoodle cookies. It will be nice to share a piece of my childhood with my children and celebrate our shared family history together. And then we’ll have cookies for dessert later, which is always a good way to end the day.
Early to bed – Sometimes when I start having fun painting or reading it’s difficult to stop and the day whips away from me more quickly than I realize. Before I know it, it’s 6pm and I need to eat, the house needs to be tidied, and I’ve lost a day – it’s like a good day hang-over. To avoid getting into that situation where instead of savoring and celebrating the end of a good day I regret or beat myself up about how I chose to spend my time I make sure to set the alarm – just a reminder to have a good dinner, share some cookies for dessert, and stick with my regular bedtime routine. I may even add in a face mask or some luxurious treat for myself before bed. Make it sweet and simple and get some good rest so that I can enjoy reflecting on this day of leisure and rest joyfully for the rest of the week and maybe make more time in my schedule for days like this that really nourish and fill me up.