This post may seem random but I promise if you hang with me I think you’ll see where I’m going.
When I get home from work in the evening, I need to get out of my thoughts and do something that distracts me or relaxes me from whatever happened during the day. I think it’s fair to say that most of us need to tune out the noise of everyday life and protect our well being.
For me, I have to switch gears and clear my mind of work stuff. There are usually two ways for me to do this: by doing something athletic or doing something creative.
The hurdle for me in starting one of these things is that I have to go athletic or creative within the first 15 minutes that I get through the front door.
Otherwise, I lose momentum and end up vegging out in front of the television, which I know is really the last thing I should do, but sometimes I don’t have the energy to bring myself to do anything else. On TV nights, (especially Thursdays for Scandal) I grab whatever is already cooked and stored in the fridge, put my feet up and click my way through the channels.
But when I resist the television and pivot to being active in a different way, I immediately feel as though I gave myself a gift. Whether I’m running, walking or making something by hand, it’s essential for my self-healing to find the time to pause and allow my brain to reset.
Cooking is at the top of my gear switching; especially in the summer! I love to cook with fresh tomatoes and veggies. Everything is so fresh in the summer and the flavors come alive pretty quickly. Going through the preparation of chopping, seasoning and stirring helps me slow down, breath and refocus my attention on the more important things about life.
On the crafty side, the made-by-hand list is generally about doing small imaginative things that I have put off for awhile. I think you know the kind of things I mean because I bet you have them on your to do list too. Pictures that need frames or framed pictures that need new frames, a plant that needs to be repotted or painting small objects that you have around the house, such as candle holders.
For the last several months, my Mom has been getting rid of extraneous things that she never uses any more. Things that she bought or things people gave to her that now sit abandoned in a big closet. I recently inherited a pair of ceramic candlestick holders from her. At first I thought I would donate them to a consignment store but then I thought I might try to paint them white instead of their current yucky mauvy pinky color.
Over the weekend, I bought some white chalk paint and last night when I got home from work I plunged into my amateur art project.
And while I was sitting quietly at the table, brushing on the paint, I began to feel calmer; more relaxed. I could feel a shift in the flow of my energy. I was winding down. I didn’t expect that to happen because initially I was thinking of the candle holders as a small project that I would paint while turning in circles, making sure to cover all the pink parts and that would be it.
But the painting was almost like playing. I got lost in the application of the paint and completely forgot about schedules and deadlines. There was something tactile about sitting there simply painting. It took me out of myself. I wasn’t thinking about the next thing I had to do.
I was perfectly content to sit there and paint and wait for the paint to dry so I could put on another coat.
Which brings me to the idea I was taking you to.
While I thought I was getting lost in the act of painting, I was really tapping into my ability to let go of stress; to relax and be carefree in my actions.
Working with your hands, whether it’s cooking, painting, sewing or gardening can help rest your mind. I think I knew that but I had forgotten it in the rush of my adult life.