I had an issue with my bathroom for a couple of months. First of all, that showerhead had been sprinkling water all over the place and taking a shower involved a lot of jostling around to be hit by more than two or three little streams of water at the same time. I had done my best to keep it going, cleaning, descaling and taking care of it, but the rubber jets had all but disintegrated and it was looking decidedly grimy. I knew that there is a time for preserving resources, and there are time when radical steps need to be taken. A new showerhead was on the list of things to get, for sure.
Similar things were happening to the toilet seat. It had come with the rental flat and was clean and all, but over the many years I have lived here, it had degraded a little. The surface had developed scratches from cleaning, and those areas had discoloured in a distressing way: they looked as if something not very nice had gotten stuck in the cracks. Erm. Time for a replacement. My landlady had been very keen on the soft close mechanism of that toilet seat (and I totally agree), so there was not discussion whatsoever that the new one would be similar. I just had to go and get one.
And that is where things got stuck: for months, I had thought of going to the store – which, by the way, is less than 10 minutes on foot away from my home – but it just never happened. Until earlier this week! And we are back to the original story…
Okay: I’m on my way back with the new seat and shower head when my mind got stuck in a loop: “was I doing this to postpone working on a project, or had I been working on projects to put off doing this little chore”? I honestly couldn’t figure out which one it was? Of course, I get tired of the project sometimes and start doing my dishes or watering my plants: that is simply called ‘a break’. I usually go back to work within a couple of minutes and continue for hours.
As for doing DIY: I love that! I actually miss owning a house of my own that needs taking care of all the time. There is nothing more satisfying than fixing things or installing something new – quite apart from having a proper shower or sitting comfortably on the throne (and not wondering what the guests were thinking when they saw they old seat). So really no reason to procrastinate on either front.
I ended up with the realisation that I probably wasn’t procrastinating at all: I saw both elements as ‘taking care of business’, they simply were interlaced and it felt like doing one thing I love kept me from doing something else I love. Quite the opposite of procrastination, then!
Nevertheless, I find myself avoiding situations where I’m not doing anything productive. I am finding projects that keep my mind active, and lately online work has picked up substantially, so I am actually making a little money again after a long stretch of financial worries. Anything to not allow myself to feel lonely, because I have been there in the past and I know where it leads.
This whole setup does lead to another issue altogether: Being constantly busy means that you are not taking care of yourself properly. Of course, there are ways of deriving pleasure from a job well done, but to find proper balance you also need time to regenerate your mind, to be creative in unproductive ways, to just bumble along without a particular goal in mind.
I usually do that by taking long walks in nature or bringing my bicycle out and spending time on my own with the sun and the wind. Unfortunately, after 12 months of this situation, I have become sick and tired of the same old paths, the same old areas, and the throngs of people populating every single spot that I used to be able to get to and spend time with my own thoughts. I find myself busy avoiding people, to the point where I prefer not going out at all.
So how can I take care of myself in this situation? Some tips that I have used to stay mentally healthy:
As I said, these are unprecedented times, but more than ever we have to look out for our own mental health, much more so than usual. Many of you will be you on their own, working from home and lacking in social interaction, while others are overwhelmed by the constant interaction with family members because everything happens at home.
A good while ago I have started to count my blessings: I have a home to live in, I have the means to feed myself, I have been able to shift a good part of my business online and, in addition, I have found new lines of work I had never considered before. Yes, I am busy, but the good kind of busy. I have left worries about the past and the future behind and stay firmly focused on the present.
Ask yourself: wouldn’t it be simpler and more helpful to focus on what IS rather than what COULD BE?
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.