It’s been almost five years since my dad died. To think it’s been that long is pretty terrifying. However, anyone who’s lost someone knows how deceptive time can be when it comes to grief. On the one hand, you can’t believe how fast the time has gone. On the other, you can feel as if it goes incredibly slowly.
I wanted to share with you a story, one that has inspired the theme of this blog.
I can remember the night after my dad died, I finally got into bed and put my headphones on loud. I lay there listening to A Message by Coldplay on repeat all night. I don’t know why I chose that song or band, but I do know that the noise seemed to give me an escape from reality for a brief moment. I continued to do this a lot over the next few months while struggling with my grief. In hindsight, I was probably doing damage to my ears, but at the time it seemed like a good way to distract myself.
Since then, I’ve drawn parallels to other occasions in my life where I have used noise to distract myself from how I’m feeling. It might not necessarily have been through listening to loud music but instead through filling my life with noise. For example, I’d always want to be around people, as I didn’t like to be alone. Or, I’d spend too much time on social media because of wanting to feel constantly connected. Having some form of buzz around me meant I spent less time alone and less time having to sit with my thoughts and feelings – something I wasn’t ready to do.
However, what I’ve learned about life is that escapism and distractions only go so far. From years of self-development, and digging deep in understanding my grief, I’ve probably gone the other way. I now really enjoy spending time alone and have found an appreciation for slowing down and enjoying the silence.
So, here are a few other things that I’ve found have helped me find calm and quiet in the busy world we live in.
- Information detox – We now live in a time with endless information at our fingertips. Whether it’s through our phones or TVs, it’s impossible to get through the day without absorbing it in some form. However, it’s important to be mindful about what information you take in and how it makes you feel. Whenever I take in too much information at one time, I never feel like anything sticks. For example, if I read a book whilst listening to music, I have to read the same page two or three times. Too much information can be overwhelming and affect our productivity. So, limit what you absorb, and spend time away from the devices that prevent your brain from switching off for a minute.
- Skip the white lies – Agreeing with people’s opinions or going along with something you don’t stand for because it’s ‘easier’, takes you further away from who you actually are, and can lead to even more time overthinking at the end of the day. It’s so easy to say “I’m fine” when you’re not, but sometimes being open and honest is the best way to find peace knowing that you’ve told the truth.
- Don’t overbook yourself – In the past, I’ve felt guilty for saying no. I’ve thought declining an offer or an invite was rude and always wanted to please everyone. Turns out I’d end up being overbooked and have to let down people anyway. When you can’t do something say no. It’s so much easier in the long run rather than saying yes and having to explain why you can’t further down the line.
- Be prepared the night before– There’s nothing more stressful in the morning when you’re late, you can’t find anything to wear, can’t find your keys, and it’s all going wrong before 8 am. Spending less than 10 minutes getting things organised the night before can save you time and a lot of rushing around (and headaches) the next morning.
- Yoga, mindfulness, meditation – I’m not going to bang the drum about these because they are brilliant ways to switch off but you’ve probably been told that 100 times before.