Aged 21, I went to one of my first yoga classes, and the theme of the week was all about ‘creating space’. I didn’t really get it. I thought to myself ‘if you want to create space, go into the forest, or a long walk on a sparse beach’. At the time I had a manageable job, fewer hobbies and regular socialising. I was renting properties with friends by the year and no boyfriend…I wasn’t worried about much. Absolutely a good way to be!
Fast forwarding some years and I get it – I understand the need to ‘create space’. I came to a point in mid 2018 year where I felt exhausted, quite trapped at times. Working a full time job, teaching yoga classes on the side, renovating a property, dealing with unwell family members, trying to build and sell yoga retreats, on top of maintaining my own fitness and socialising when possible. I had so little time to myself and any free time I did have I’d end up taking on new yoga classes to teach or sit working on marketing ideas for my retreats. ‘Ahhhh I need some space!’ is what my body was screaming to me.
I then came across Melissa Ambrosini’s podcast on ‘Creating more white space’ in your life. It really resonated. I was jam packing my diary, leaving little opportunity for the spontaneity and the free flow of activities which I craved. It took me a while to make any changes as I knew it would involve stopping doing a lot of the things I was doing; the number of yoga classes I was teaching, some of the socialising I was doing, some of the exercise I was ‘addicted’ to, work etc etc
Before I move on with what helped me, take a look at your own life. Have you felt any of the below in your life over the last few months?
- Feeling like you work from point to point on your to-do list, with little deviation
- You rarely do anything spontaneous. If it isn’t in the diary it doesn’t end up happening as you’re so busy
- You love doing creative things, whatever that may be for you, but never have the time
- You’d feel so guilty if you missed a birthday, house warming, family event, so you drag yourself to every one, even though you are often tired and your body would prefer a night on the sofa with netflix and a nourishing dinner
- You grab take away/on the go food options more than a few times a week because ‘who has time to cook?’ you wonder to yourself
- Sometimes you wish you could just wake up and choose what your body and mind feel like doing but this is a privilege you just don’t have in your busy life
- You spend a few hours every day commuting and know this drains your body and mind. Making you are and more dependent on caffeine to wake up and alcohol (or drug of your choice) to slow down after a busy day
Felt any of these? I’ve felt all of them at some point. We live in a chaotic world, especially if you live in a busy City like London where I live.
Why is this happening, especially to us millennial women? We have more friends than ever, more job and career demands than before – we also have side hustles on the go, we create higher and higher goals for ourselves all the time as we are constantly comparing ourselves to others and technology is non-stop distracting us! Eugh, it is a lot to contend with, all at once!
I got to a point where I had adrenal fatigue (overworked stress hormones) and my body couldn’t do what my mind was telling it to. Therefore, over the last year I’ve really been working on creating more space for myself. These are some things that have really worked for me:
1. Changing my relationship with my phone:
- Turning off ALL notifications – ah it is so liberating
- I never look at my phone before I’ve either gone on a walk, done some yoga or a meditation
- I always turn my phone onto aeroplane and don’t look at it during the night, not even to check the time. I try to leave it on aeroplane for as long as possible in the morning, sometimes for over 3 hours (6-9 am) until I get to my desk at work.
2. Setting aside more ‘me’ time
I was at a point where I never relaxed. We didn’t watch TV or Netflix at home as I felt I should always be working on something
Over the past few months I’ve been taking myself to spa’s for a few hours – I love Jacuzzi time and nipping in and out of the sauna. My body always feels 10 x more relaxed after a session
3. Listening to my body regarding exercise
I used to do lots of HIIT training as I loved the post-workout feeling and the challenge. I’ve learnt though that this style of training can be quite taxing on my nervous system. I now exercise less often and mainly do weight training and yoga.
4. Podcast and walking
Combining two of my favourite things. I walk either half way or the whole way to work with a podcast or audio book on a few times a week. It is so refreshing and this type of gentle exercise makes me feel so good
An obvious one yes. I’ve at last got into a daily meditation habit. I have Headspace to thank and my lovely boyfriend Sam for buying me a years membership
6. New Approaches To Socialising
My friend Rose taught me, ‘if it’s is not a HELL YEAH then it is a ‘no”approach to socialising. Also thinking to myself, ‘if I was asked to go to this tomorrow, would I go?’ as we tend to say yes to things in the future if we kind of want to do them but not that fussed. This helps us to prioritise what is most important to us
7. Reducing My Workload
By doing less but being fully present with maximum energy when I am working.
I have 2 careers; my yoga business and a consultancy I work for. For my yoga teaching, I have cut down on the number of classes I take and focusing on corporate classes as this is my favourite type of class to teach.
8. Saying ‘no’ more often
This is by far the hardest thing for me. I am a people pleaser and want people to like me! In my teens and early twenties there was nothing I loved more than a house party or a night out finishing at 5am and cuts and bruises to show my hardcore drinking ways. However, after spending a few years travelling and building more self confidence, my desire for this changed (however, I don’t think it’s wrong to still love doing this, if that’s what makes you happy!). For me, I found myself feeling lonely on a night out, despite being with big groups of people. I’d much sooner host or go to a dinner party and sip fancy wine from nice glasses and chat about meaningful things.
Therefore I’ve learnt to say no more to those occassions where I know I won’t feel like I fit in and as a result, I have more time to do one of my favourite things – host small dinner parties full of laughing, sitting on the floor and eating my crazy concoctions!
9. Planning Less Things To Do Each Day
This sounds really tricky and it is. For me, it has meant questioning things on my to do list with ‘do I really want to get that done?’ and ‘is it going to help towards my longer term goals?’
Sometimes things I want to do don’t help much towards my longer term goals – time with my family, reading a novel. There are going to be exceptions.
Some examples of where I’ve cut things out; commuting as little as possible by asking to work from home and explaining to my boss why, posting on Instagram when I don’t really have a message I want to say, meeting with friends who don’t energise me, HIIT training, cooking every day – I batch cook pretty much everything.
I’m hoping some of these tips may resonate and please do message me with any of yours. My journey to creating more space in my life will be a gradual and lengthy one, I’m going to keep working on it!