Running a small creative business it can be super-difficult to draw the line between work and leisure, specially when you love drawing/sewing/knitting, or whatever it is you do. But it is so important to switch off completely every now and then.
I’m no exception; and despite choosing to do what I do so that I have the ultimate control over the way I spend my time, it can be all-consuming, especially at busy times of the year. I make no secret of the fact that I’ve struggled with bouts of stress and anxiety at various points throughout my adult life, but I have worked hard to work out coping strategies for myself.
Drawing is genuinely really relaxing for me – which is pretty lucky. However it is still work – and, to be totally honest, I don’t get that much time to spend drawing in a normal week. I’m working hard on carving out time each week to draw, but admin and general “stuff” does take so much time it can be difficult.
So, here are my six top activities for relaxation. Handily most of them are super-simple; I can do a lot of them without much preparation, and it’s easy enough to fit one or two in most days:
I’ve loved swimming since I was a child. I used to swim – fairly badly – for a local swimming club.I don’t swim as much as I should these days, but during the summer I try to get down to Liverpool Watersports Centre for a dip in the docks at least once a week. I first tried open water swimming last summer, and was instantly hooked. I hate swimming in a wetsuit, and I don’t much like putting my head into the salt water, but I do get a huge amount of enjoyment from tootling round the docks, taking in the gorgeous view of the iconic Liverpool skyline. 45 minutes of no internet access does me a lot of good.
I did Pilates for years – first introduced to it by a friend when I lived up in East Lancashire – I though that yoga just wasn’t for me, it was all a bit airy fairy. Well, Louise at White Wolf put paid to that theory, and I started doing yoga regularly with her about two and a half years ago. I still go a few times a week, my current regular yoga haunt is Yogacita, for convenience; but I get over to White Wolf when I can – and I’m off to India in November with the White Wolf lot too. Again it’s a full hour of not checking my phone – it’s so good for the soul.
I’ve always loved cooking, but over the past three years it’s become more and more important to me. After years of health issues I realised that what I eat actually made a real difference to my wellbeing; I mostly eat a plant based diet these days – and I absolutely love experimenting with food and adapting recipes. I feel so much healthier for it, and I find that I can lose myself in cooking for hours when I have time. I love preparing food for the whole week on a Sunday afternoon, making sure I am super-organised for the week ahead. I reckon if I’d not been an illustrator I’d have become a vegetarian chef. There’s still time…
I got a Fitbit a few months ago and discovered the pleasure of walking. It’s great. Spurred on by a little group of small business friends we are all making huge strides in getting fit and meeting our daily step targets. Walking in the park is a complete pleasure when it’s sunny, and it’s not so bad even when it’s a bit grey too! I’ve found myself wandering around lots of different places, some really close to my house – that I’d never been before. It’s ace what you can discover when you go exploring!
Watching TV doesn’t always work as a relaxation strategy for me – my mind can often be really busy and it can wander – before I know what I’m doing something else and the TV is just background noise. But my guiltiest of pleasures is Coronation Street – I find it so easy to switch off that noisy brain, put my phone in another room, and watch an episode or two of Corrie. Yep, I know it’s a bit naff, but I blooming love it!
Again, there are times that I really struggle to keep my concentration on reading, but if I run a bath – ideally with something nice from Lush in it – and get in there with my Kindle I can generally while away half an hour or so. I really enjoy reading books which aren’t too complicated – my main requirements from a book are that it has to be set in the current day (or at least partially) and there can’t be anything supernatural or magical in it. Specific, huh?I love a bit of crime or mystery, even a bit of tragedy – my favourite authors include Jonathan Harvey, Emily Barr and Dorothy Koomson.
Nearly all of these activities involve me not being able to keep checking my phone – which is pretty telling! Cutting down on screen time is something I definitely need to work on.
How do you find time to relax, and what do you do?