Finding calm in a chaotic world

I’ve been finding life quite difficult over the past few weeks. I am not good at working out when I need to rest. I think I’m fine, until I’m not.

And around me, the world still seems chaotic and I can’t make sense of what’s going on and why I’m feeling as unsettled as I am.

I’m trying to work through that. But until I do, I need to find some coping strategies that actually make life easier. The one that I’ve found that really works for me is to schedule time into my day to do nothing. (I say “do nothing”. I mean time to just sit in my sensory room and decompress.)

Scheduling in general seems to make my life easier, as long as I don’t try to do too much. I need to have a plan (preferably several), otherwise my life feels out of control and I can’t concentrate on anything. In the past, I’ve over-scheduled things and then I feel under immense pressure when I can’t keep to that schedule. So I need to keep a certain degree of flexibility in my days, just to take that pressure away from me.

It doesn’t always work the way I want it to. Sometimes external factors, or other people’s influence, mean that I can’t keep to the plan. Sometimes that’s OK; sometimes I can re-plan. More often, I pretend it’s OK when it isn’t (I probably need to stop doing that, as well), and then deal with the fallout when I’m alone. And I still tend to plan too much in one day. I don’t know whether that particular habit is one I’ll manage to break.

Today, I got the balance just about right. And it was the best day I’ve had in a long time.

I’m trying to appreciate simple pleasures more. I don’t need to be constantly rushing on to the next thing; the next experience. That risks overwhelming my mind’s executive function. Learning some mindfulness techniques has helped me a lot with this (although I don’t subscribe to some of the weirder manifestations of that particular bandwagon and I definitely don’t want to learn to dance with my own divinity…)

So today, I took the day off work. I planned to go for lunch and have a walk. Then back home, to do nothing for a while.

The lunch was indifferent. The walk was amazing. Going to a garden in January isn’t where you’d expect to find beauty. But even in winter, there was a carpet of flowers near the entrance. There was colour, and scent, and the sound of the fallen leaves crackling under my boots. At times, I could have been the only person in the garden. It was wonderful.

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Then home again, just in time to see another sunset from my window.

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Time in my sensory room followed; the coloured lights becoming brighter as the room darkened. Watching the glitter tumble down while drinking the last of my favourite coffee.

I had almost forgotten how happiness feels. It’s good to know that it’s still there, somewhere, amongst the stress and chaos of everyday life.

And it’s good to know that not everything has to be about coping. That’s been the focus for a while. But finding pleasure and enjoyment is probably more important. I think I’d forgotten that, as well.

I’ll probably crash down again tomorrow. But as long as I have some days like today, I might just be able to do this whole ‘life’ thing after all.

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