Tired of the same old same old? Have your days blended into one big blur? Do you want to do SOMETHING to change it up?! I’ve got something for you to try on for size.
RIDER for all the parents homeschooling young children as we wade through our third lockdown here in the UK: some of the suggestions I’m making will be the last thing you’re gonna want or be able to do at this point in time.
I don’t have multiple or young children. I have one who homeschools herself brilliantly. Even homeschooling my two young nephews once a week this year (ages 6 and 8), I have no experience of how relentless your days are and have been for the past 12 months or so.
Those of you in the parenting trenches are all heroes in my humble opinion. I want to say that upfront so you don’t think I’m suggesting everything will be a-OK if you just shake life up a bit.
A change is as good as a rest
If a change is as good as a rest, but rest is the last thing available to you right now as you juggle pandemic life, then I want to invite you to think about a change.
More specifically, the fun kind… NOVELTY!
None of us fancy slapping false positivity over our days when they’re hard, but if you can give yourself the foot up to having these unthinkable days feel a little lighter despite the restrictions we find ourselves living with, then that’s what it’s about.
Let me explain.
‘Is this the real life…?’
Back end of 2020, I knew I wanted January to feel different. Aware there was potential for it to feel a bit groundhog-y, I wanted to inject it with something that would mean our days didn’t rise or fall on the latest pandemic updates. Little did I know we’d head into another lockdown days later!
Framing January this way began with deciding to take a social media holiday if you missed it, I wrote about it HERE.
Coming off social was a novelty. I hadn’t done so for over nine years. It gave variety to everyday life.
The month was one of the best which I put down to all the ways that ordinary everyday life was infused with small doses of novelty which brought JOY.
So we’re on the same page:
the quality of being new, original, or unusual.
Why we need novelty
When everyday life looks the same it gets boring. Many of our regular (pre-pandemic) days naturally brought about new experiences, people we connected with, places to visit etc. When all that ground to a halt, so did the variety we were experiencing that, at the time, we were unaware of was actually meeting a key need for us.
We humans are hard-wired for novelty (which I’m also using interchangeably with ‘variety’).
What does that mean?
New things we like the look of tend make us feel good! That new restaurant, lippy colour you’ve not tried before, or first page of a new notebook…
Joy in the ordinary
What I’m inviting you to think about as we go through these repetitious days with little external variety, is what you could do to spice up your own days.
As a starter for six, here’s some ways the past five weeks at Balance HQ have been an enjoyable experience.
Nothing like a fresh lick (or few litres) of paint to instantly change a space. Having Wevet’d my brains out, we’re loving a lighter, more contemporary feel.
Here’s what happened: a new paint colour spawned new art, moving furniture around to create new areas to style and brighter colours now stand out in ways they didn’t before. Same space, new love 🤗
All the above taps into those creative juices and brings a sense of deep achievement and fulfillment. It’s all about getting the ball rolling!
Decluttering was another thing inspired by redecorating. We’re going through almost every drawer, cupboard, and box, passing on everything that is simply taking up space.
Perk-up your palate
Always pluck the same produce off the shelves? Me too for the most part but thanks to a few stocking-fillers from December I’ve expanded my palate.
What’s a taste if it’s not bitter, salty, sweet or sour? Well, apparently the Japanese word for the 5th flavour is ‘umami’.
Little did I know my life needed umami! Yutaka Miso soup sachets in hot water are an alternative drink when you don’t fancy tea’s or coffee.
I’m also thinking Marmite peanut butter is umami-like. OMG. Wasn’t that impressed with the first jar but found myself buying it again and now Miss P and I both crave it. A jar lasts us 24 hours.
Other tastes this month include:
- OSO cider vinegar with pomegranate and blueberries. A seriously tasty way to get your cider vinegar one a day and goes great with oil as a dressing.
- Refreshing on top of salads Yutaka Sushi Ginger
- Quickly smeared on top of fish or meat before cooking M&S Magic umami paste
Create & use your hands!
Many of us forget or don’t know that humans are born to create. Brené Brown teaches that creativity is key to wholehearted living and we have to cultivate our creativity.
In addition to creatively throwing myself into home improvements I’ve taken up acrylic painting. GCSE’s was the last time! I’ve also overhauled the website, created a new logo and found out how to cut my daughters hair better – did the feathering layers at the front and everything 😉
I know it can be hard to feel the need to get creative if it’s not something you do in your work or as a hobby, but speaking as someone who just spent most of January completely lost in creative expression – the sense of wellbeing is undeniable.
Interestingly, Brené also says “unused creativity is not benign. It metastasized, turning into grief, rage, judgement, sorrow and shame” Wow! See the full episode here.
Music is a great mood changer. I’ve always been a fan of a 1-song dance party but am not a radio listener, so often have to remind myself to bob on a few beats.
Decorating and hollering to old albums felt so good! Singing lowers stress-levels, is a natural anti-depressant and apparently strengthens the immune system.
Sometimes it’s real simple: want to feel better? Listen to and watch what lifts your spirit.
Expand your viewing
Firmly in the creative vein, I found myself keen to watch creative programs. The glass-blowing programme on Netflix, Blown Away? Unbelievable! Add to that The Great Pottery Throw Down (All 4), Lego House, The Creative Brain and Abstract : The Art Of Design, plus too many YouTube acrylics tutorials to count and it’s not difficult to see how a person would come away inspired.
Remember, interesting people are interested, dare to broaden your horizons.
TIP. Avoid ‘what to watch’ paralysis with 10 minutes to try. We’ll try most programmes for 10 minutes. If we like ’em, they stay. If not, adios and no great loss.
Novelty wears off
Remember how when the first lockdown took place, despite any internal panic stations, there was also an extent to which the whole thing was novel? What happened? What happens to all novelty. It wore off.
Whatever starts out as novel, eventually becomes normal.
As always there’s a balance to be struck. We can’t always be in the pursuit of new and novel if it’s actually a desperate attempt to avoid dealing with internal restlessness.
Used well, injecting your days with intentional variety, is another tool at your disposal for the days life feels a little flat.
I’ll leave you with this gem of a novelty I’ve gifted to my most of my fam to inject joy to the grey months ooh, what is it?
You’re welcome 😉.