Time and space can seem especially scarce when you need it the most. However, it’s closer at hand than we often realize. The smallest amount can make a huge difference in our outlook and well-being.
Recently, my grandmother passed away. The Queen of my family’s Universe, the most humble, generous, and loving human I’ve ever known, and someone I deeply deeply love. Just writing this, I’m breaking into sobs over my latte. Processing…
What the heck is processing?
My own personal and unscientific definition is thinking all the thoughts and feeling all the feelings associated with a challenging or traumatic event. Acknowledging them, working through any misunderstandings, allowing the various waves of emotion to rise and fall, seeking support from a therapist, a coach, a dear friend…basically not letting anything get stuck.
Processing flows, like a river. Without it, the thoughts and feelings stagnate, and create an internal swampy bog. Yuck.
Processing takes time, and it takes space—two things we aren’t particularly good at giving ourselves these days.
After the hustle and bustle of the funeral, immersed in family, love, laughter, hugs, tears, stories, I returned back home to Florida expecting I was ready to go back to work. I was in for a shock.
On the Monday I went back, my brain could not function. I couldn’t take in all the information, I couldn’t prioritize or make decisions. After one meeting, I went to lie down and passed out for three solid hours.
It was clearly too soon to go back.
The only answer was to give myself a little more space to breathe, to feel the feelings with no need to hold back tears or keep it together. I took two more days off, and that made a huge difference. And, the processing continues.
I realize time off of work is a privilege and a luxury that’s not available to everyone. However, there are many ways to create space in your life, that in my experience, have a huge impact. Here are some of things I’ve tried that work wonders for spaciousness:
- Turn off your phone for several hours one evening. This is astoundingly freeing.
- Remove social media apps from your phone for a week, a month, a year.
- Make no plans for an entire weekend.
- Turn off the TV, take a shower or a bath, and climb into bed an hour earlier than usual, with a journal.
- Keep your phone outside of your bedroom, always.
- Give yourself 15 minutes in the morning to drink tea quietly, before anyone or anything else is vying for your attention. Do nothing. Just sit, breathe, sip tea, maybe look out the window or pet your dog.
Don’t worry about what comes after. Just see what bubbles up when you actually give yourself some moments free of distraction to think and feel, or simply to daydream. Your heart will thank you.