I keep thinking I need to write a blog as it's been so long, but I really haven't had much to say. I promised myself I wouldn't write for the sake of it and honestly everything has been so great and chilled I've not felt the need to write. That is until today. I was sitting in a hammock looking out over the Mekon Delta and all I could think was I should be doing something, anything. Reading a book, writing a blog, studying (I signed up to an online course). Something. Why was I finding it so hard to do nothing?
I think for one, I'm still finding it hard to get out of teacher mode, there's always so much to do! Between marking and planning, detentions and meetings, it's non stop. So now when I have none of that I can't just sit still and do nothing. I meditate usually, but that is different to just sitting there, I had to actually force myself to stay in the hammock for an hour and just be. But it got me thinking about all my colleagues and even my mum, if it's hard for me out here in the most chilled environment possible, it's a million times harder for you guys at home.
Let me tell you about my mum. She is one of the most incredible women I've ever known, she was a headteacher, I'm sure we can all agree, possibly the most stressful job ever. She retired after a few very stressful years trying to deal with the constantly changing education system. And she can't sit still. Ever. We went Christmas shopping last year for a few nibbles, which was a trial in itself, but we got to the checkout queue and she starts getting very antsy. Moaning about queues, actually growling. So I asked her where she had to be that was so important? Nowhere, obviously, her plan for the day was to watch TV, read a book and cook dinner. We got in the car to drive home and there was, shockingly, a lot of traffic. Again she started stressing out, I'm no angel with road rage, but we had nowhere to be, no rush and we expected the traffic. We have a silly tradition in our family, whereby you start rummaging around in your bag, and dramatically pull out an invisible pill and offer the person stressing out a chill pill. Which in this case was enough to make her laugh and indeed chill out.
But this is a retired woman, so again I came back to thinking about those dealing with this level of stress everyday. I remember how bad it was for me and without meditation I never would have made it through. But that's not for everyone, I get it. But sometimes we need a chill pill, so what could I do if I needed to destress? Well I think we all know it needs to be quick and convenient, me suggesting you go for an hour's walk isn't going to help when you don't have an hour to spare. So first you need to ask yourself how long do I have to spare?
5 minutes or less?
Pull over on your way to work or home from work, that spot that you always look at through the window and think, that's pretty. Or that tree that you could sit under. Park a street away and give yourself that short walk to put work out of your head and shake the stress off. Or just sit in the car and take 3 deep breaths before you do anything. When I was sitting my university finals the BBC did a segment on how 3 deep breaths literally reduced your heart rate significantly. I had my students do this before exams, some got theatrical but I think generally it was appreciated.
My go to would be a short meditation session, I use an app called calm but I've heard of others like head space. It honestly changed my life. But a short walk round a park would be just as good, sit in Costa and have a coffee before you head home, do something for you. Park further away and have a nice stroll.
30 minutes to an hour?
When I was really depressed I almost had to force myself to leave the house once a week to do some exercise or do something for myself. The councillor suggested swimming or a long walk but literally anything that I would enjoy would work. Go sit and have lunch away from the staffroom, sit and have a cake after work at a nice coffee shop. Go see a movie if you have the time, I can 100% say it IS ok to go to the cinema on your own! Or to have dinner on your own, it's funny how comfortable you get doing things on your own when you're traveling.
I can't explain how important it is to take some you time, I spoke about my depression in a previous post, but the stress at work was a serious factor. Until I sorted that out I had no hope, if you can help yourself prevent the stress you will be saving yourself a lot of pain in the future. And you know if it all gets too much, I can highly recommend quitting your job and going traveling!