Wednesday 16 November 2016

Dull November...

...brings the blast;
Then the leaves are swirling fast.

I always loved that poem (by R. L. Stevenson) and it perfectly describes what's going on outside my window right now.

Autumn and winter are my favourite seasons, but it's always sad to see the leaves being whipped from the trees. All those bright colours giving way to bare branches.

But there are good things to come. And for all those people who are determined not to mention the 'C' word just yet: look away now.

You see, when you're a maker of one kind or another, Christmas is something which must be prepared for early. There are fairs to attend where you (hopefully) sell your wares. It's no good leaving it until December, unless you enjoy a bit of panic. So I've been printing cards and doing line drawings of pine cones and mistletoe.

Of course, I'm not in favour of the shops playing carols in October. Or the endless TV adverts aimed at children. In fact, Joe's pretty confused by it all. He's convinced Christmas is going to be upon us within the next 24 hours.

School is a whirlwind of activity: non-uniform days, PTA fundraisers, birthday parties (sometimes two in a single day), numerous performances and services and early bird sessions.

Busy, busy, busy.

One thing I've realised, though - stress is not good for you. In fact, I've been reading about it. I'm tired of succumbing to each and every infection/virus/bug that comes my way. Of lying awake in the early hours while my mind jumps from one thing to another. Of worrying about things that are far beyond my control.

I've always been an anxious person, ever since childhood. It's usually pretty manageable, if unpleasant. I envy those people who are laid-back and able to just let life wash over them.

Accepting I'll never be one of them is important. So is getting a handle on things. 

I know that the concept of 'Hygge' is all the rage. But there's something to be said for it, even if it's just my interpretation. Like taking pleasure from little things. Being warm indoors. Seeing friends. Reading books.

I've made a conscious effort, these past few weeks, to relax more and worry less. To try and feel physically well too and not be so susceptible to illness. Here's what I've been doing:

Curbing the social media (it's full of negativity and sensationalism) and just looking at the things I find enjoyable (mostly pretty pictures on Pinterest).

Organising my time better. I now have a 'day off' during the week to catch up with friends and deal with chores, or to batch cook meals.

Keeping lists and staying on top of potential causes of worry (finances, appointments etc.)

Eating better. Avoiding caffeine, cutting down on sugar and processed carbohydrates.

Accepting that my business is new, that I have a lot to learn, and that things take time.

Avoiding comparing myself to others, and 'how well' they're doing.

Going to bed at a reasonable hour.

Enjoying small treats: a magazine, a scented candle, a film.

Removing myself from situations where I feel helpless or taken advantage of, and instead prioritising Joe, Jay and myself.

Learning not to feel guilty.

Fighting perfectionism (not easy!) and realising I can't be all things to all people, that there are only so many hours in a day, and 'multi-tasking' really isn't the be all and end all.

So, dull November. I did say it was a time of introspection, of evaluation, this winter of ours. I know it isn't here just yet but it's cold and dark and wet. Time to make plans and hibernate and enjoy what's closest to us: hearth, home, family, friends.


  1. Dear Sarah,
    I nodded my head along with all of this! I too am prone to anxiety and, additionally, I am very sensitive and susceptible to discord, harsh words, vulgarity and the like. So, all my life has been a gradually improving process of elimination and creating an environment where I feel shielded and safe. For me, that means no TV or internet in my home. It also means not giving in to every impulse to say yes when no is really what's best for my inner peace. And, begrudgingly, I am coming to accept that eating sweets and drinking alcohol are no longer tolerated by my middle-aged bones.
    After the awful election season here in the states, I have also abandoned all news and social media (not blogs, but instagram and the like). I cannot see myself returning any time soon. My chest still feels tight from the endless barrage of people's opinions. This time of year helps with all this turning inward and moving slow, doesn't it?
    I wish you a peaceful and cozy season.

  2. A great list of calming ideas. I suffer from anxiety a lot too and often lie awake worrying about things. I tell myself to think about a happy place. The pre-Christmas period at school is utterly insane isn't it. I try and keep it as minimal as I can. Good luck with all of your making and creating. You're right, building a business does take time, but it is so worth doing and something you should be very proud of. Best wishes, CJ xx

  3. I love your list Sarah. I'm not particularly anxious but I do lie awake at night worrying about stuff I can't control. I find walking really helpful, whatever the weather. I'm glad not to be part of that school pre-Christmas build anymore though.

  4. Great list Sarah, I fret all the time too, I'm a crafter and a perfectionist :-( I read this last night and hope it might help others too. "Pareto Principle" "80% results come from 20% of the effort. So concentrate on 20% of important to you things. Give yourself permission to drop, delegate, look for shortcuts or just be good enough not perfect" I'm going to try this, I have a day off every week too and it really helps. Good luck with the fairs.

  5. Hi Sarah
    Here are some of the things that help me: walking, daylight, keeping warm in day, hot water bottle at night, audio books instead of radio programmes (Womans Hour is guaranteed to send me into a decline), BBC Breaking on twitter instead of news programmes which recycle the same stories over + over. At night I make a conscious effort to list the good things that have happened rather than things I am worried about in future. Finally, I try to keep make a note of anxiety episodes so that I can identify triggers to avoid and work out what helps.

  6. Hi Sarah, I identify with lot of what you say and it's not easy when you are running your own business and juggling everything else! It's easy to get caught up in social media and feel we are never doing or being enough. I am stream lining a lot of things in life to be able to concentrate and enjoy what I do enjoy and to put as much time as is healthy into taking my nursery forward and making it as good as it can be, It's all a work in progress though and sometimes two forward one back! Your list is great, I'm a list person, but it does get things done, stops me feeling overwhelmed and keeps me focused.


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