Hiya from Ottawa!
I’ve just returned to Canada after a very long stint overseas, including some much needed time back home in Australia with friends and family.
I’ve been away from home for almost two and a half months, and my routine is completely out of whack. I also find that often when I’ve had a really intense period of happiness with the people that I care about most, my mood can slump a little when I’m by myself. Let’s be honest, it can slump a lot. I’m feeling pretty homesick right now.
The fact that I’m seriously jet-lagged and its pretty nippy outside is definitely a contributing factor. I find that when I’m overly tired I can get stuck in my head and my anxiety can sneak up. Fun times!
We’ve got just over two months left in our beautiful adopted home, and lots of exciting things to plan and look forward to. I do appreciate how lucky I have been this year. But, I need some personal goals to keep me focused, motivated and stop me from going stir-crazy whilst I’m in-between projects.
So, in the spirit of taking my advice about being open to change and making the most of my year abroad, I thought I’d share some strategies I’m trying to put in place to prevent myself slipping into a negative head-space. I’m also hoping this helps me stay motivated through the Canadian winter, which is pretty damn freezing!
I hope this is useful for other freelancers, people taking a break from work for whatever reason, or maybe those of you who are settling into a new place. Or maybe you just woke up feeling cruddy this morning and need some help getting your shit sorted.
Recently, I’ve eaten my way through the Middle East, Europe and my mum’s kitchen. I’ve been doing body composition scans and analysis over the past few months, and although I’m a bit disappointed at not making as much progress as I had expected, I am happy at how my body is remembering how to move. Even though I’ve lapsed in my running recently, I surprised myself by doing a gentle 3km jog yesterday even when my wireless headphones conked out and left me music-less.
I’m learning more about ‘slow exercise’ and have a little 30-minute workout that I’m planning on doing thrice weekly. I’m going to try out a barre class with a girlfriend tomorrow as well as get back into the beautiful (and warm!) Elevate yoga studio. I love reading the Elevate blog, as well as using the Aaptiv app to motivate me.
If you’re struggling with exercise inspo, ping me – I’m happy to be your Fitbit buddy, share healthy recipes or send you a random encouragement text (which you’ll probably get in the middle of the night due to our time difference!).
Get on your hobby-horse
I started learning French earlier in the year despite feeling totally daunted at the prospect. Although it was challenging, it was surprising how much my brain had retained from learning French and Italian at school, as well as a smudge of Latin at uni. Going to class gave structure to my day and I met some lovely people who became my friends. So, I’m signing up to re-do Level 2, which will mean I’m committing 110 hours (eeep!) to not sitting around watching Netflix with home-delivery ice cream.
I’m also making a concerted effort to spend more time on creative pursuits which aren’t connected to a screen. Marc bought me a gorgeous set of watercolours for our wedding anniversary which I can’t wait to dip into, and I’ve been collecting patches during my recent travels which I’m planning on sewing on a vintage denim jacket.
Make plans and find someone to help you stick to them
I’ve set some professional goals for this year which includes growing this little blog. I’m a nutty perfectionist at times, so I’m trying to keep this space a genuine mix of off-the-cuff posts as well as more considered pieces about my travels and love of museums. Thank you so much to all the gorgeous people who’ve given such kind feedback and been such generous supporters.
One of my challenges is listing every single thing I want, need and have to do, and then struggling to prioritise. A big current focus is researching job opportunities in London, where we’ll live and planning our transition to England via Australia. All of which is super exciting but also a bit overwhelming at times, especially as there are a considerable number of variables on the table.
So, I’ve got a master list of things thatI need to do over the coming months, and I’m breaking them down into weekly and daily tasks, and asking others to help me keep accountable.
Your new answer is yes
Invited to a work function? Partner keen to see a new movie? A friend connects you to someone who is moving to your city and wants to meet new people? Yes, you’d love to.
If you’re offered the chance to socialise, get out of your comfort zone, or indeed out of the house, grab it. The more you’re out and about and feeling connected to others, the happier you’ll feel.
Stop feeling guilty about taking down-time
Surprisingly, I think this has been one of my biggest hurdles this year. When I was home recently, a lot of people commented on how relaxing it would be just ‘being on holiday’ all the time.
When you’re freelancing, not working a standard office job, or not working at all, it’s really challenging to set goals and manage your own time, including when you give yourself permission to unwind. It can also be frustrating when others perceive that you’re just lolling around in a café wearing your active-wear drinking endless lattes.
When you’re not working in a conventional job, working from home or creating your own projects and managing your expectations around them, it’s tricky to hit the mark in terms of productivity. Tasks can spread out, temptations are hard to resist and productivity can dip. I’m trying to structure my day as if I was at work, so that I can relax and enjoy some quality time relaxing later in the evening, on the weekend and when I am actually on holiday.
If all else fails = wine
It sounds so simple, but sometimes the hardest thing to do is to just take a step back and acknowledge that you’re doing the best you can. If all else fails, pour yourself a glass of wine, do something you find relaxing and try to chill the hell out.
Are you a freelancer, working in an unconventional environment or currently not working? What are some of the challenges you experience, and how do you deal with them?