Permission to relax

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Last Friday, on my day off, I gave myself a wonderful gift.  It didn’t cost any money and I didn’t even need to leave the house. It was a grey rainy day outside and I knew I had an intensive weekend ahead, so I spent a large part of the day just lying on the sofa, reading.

I let myself be swept into the characters’ lives and was completely absorbed in another world for hours, while totally ignoring my real-life to-do list and not feeling like I needed to stop reading to do something more important.  It was wonderful and it recharged my batteries much more than ticking off items on my to-do list ever would. I plan to do this again soon. Here’s to giving ourselves permission to relax and recharge in whatever way works for us, regardless of what still needs to be done!

How-to for a day of extreme self-care

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  1. Make sure to have no plans whatsoever. Nothing on the agenda. No-one to meet with.
  2. Go for a walk after breakfast. Soak up the rays of winter sun, stock up on precious vitamine D. Breathe in the fresh air. Enjoy exploring the familiar paths of your neighbourhood.
  3. Look for some nice plants to photograph. Feel your fingers get cold as you take pictures without gloves on.
  4. Pass by the little free library down the road. Pick up a book or two that catch your fancy.
  5. When it starts raining, rush home.  Enjoy the excuse to stay indoors. Use the quiet time to journal and process your thoughts. Listen to the voice of your intuition.
  6. Spend the rest of the afternoon reading peacefully on the sofa while sipping fresh ginger tea.
  7. Have a delicious dinner of left-overs.
  8. Read some more.
  9. Go to sleep early.
  10. Repeat:)

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Chilling in Haarlem

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JOYFUL GRATITUDE #39

There are those magic days where you travel to another city to meet with a friend for no other reason than to go and eat scones! Hooray!

Then you explore the tiny, well-kept streets overflowing with plants, and somehow later find yourself sitting in the sun for hours, enjoying vegan delicacies and talking about ‘everything and nothing’ like we say in French:) One topic leads to another and you start reminiscing about the books you read (or didn’t read!) as a teenager – Adrian Mole’s diary, Watership Down, ‘Fucked up youth’ (??, so curious about that last one;).

So grateful for the simple pleasure of good company, tasty food and lots of laughs!

On being an introvert

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When I found out that I am an introvert (I think I was about 30), it was a real a-ha moment. I had so often wondered how other people managed to spend so much time in groups or hanging out with other people, when after a couple of hours of socialising the only thing I felt like was heading home to chill alone with a good book. I often felt like there was something wrong with me.

Basically being an introvert simply means that spending time with other people drains your energy, and spending time alone allows you to recharge your energy. It was such a relief to find out that I’m not flawed. Knowing that I am an introvert has helped me to just be myself, and also I’ve become much more conscious of protecting my downtime by myself so that I recharge and save my energy. The best comparison I read is that as an introvert you are like a computer battery, you have a certain amount of capacity to interact with others, but once it is empty you can’t be social again until you recharge.

It’s definitely a learning curve as I spent most of my life feeling like I constantly ‘should’ want to be more social. Nowadays I can recognise my physical need to relax in order to process a busy day at the office or a social weekend with friends.  I am practising saying NO a lot more to invitations (a part of me often wants to go but if I feel another part of me pulling back and thinking ‘this is too much, I actually just want to chill’, I do my best to listen to that voice). I try not to make too many social plans, especially when I’m using a lot of energy at work. But I do actively plan time alone to recharge (going for walks, naps, journalling, reading or daydreaming:)

A wonderful book I would recommend (for both introverts and those around them) is Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain. She writes really well on the common misunderstandings about introverts, how the world should pay more attention to them and how to carve space for yourself in our world as an introvert.