“I was busy but not in a way most people understand. I was busy taking deeper breaths. I was busy silencing irrational thoughts. I was busy calming a racing heart. I was busy telling myself I am okay. Sometimes this is my busy and I will not apologise for it.” – Brittin Oakman
I’ve fallen into a very negative mindset recently. The weeds in my mind have become unruly, and every morning I am tangled in them before I even open my eyes. This world feels too much for my small self, and sometimes I just don’t want to be a part of it anymore. When I get into this headspace, it’s time for me to hit pause. Retreat, reflect, reevaluate. I’ve taken ~ and am still taking ~ some time to work on my interior, to weed out my mental landscape, to repaint the walls and plant new flowers. On the outside it may not look like I’ve really been doing much, but trust me, I’ve been busy.
Hitting pause, while I wish it was as simple as on spotify, isn’t. It isn’t easy because we still display a huge disconnect, on an individual and societal level, between our awareness of mental health and our behaviour. We’re so eager to get behind social media campaigns about mental health and talk about the importance of starting a discussion about it, yet we don’t give ourselves the liberty to take time out and be the kind of ‘busy’ that is simply put, just looking after ourselves. We take time off work when we have the flu, but not when we’re depressed or anxious. And if we do take time off for our mental health, we think we’re being lazy. We blame ourselves for not hustling and being ‘on the grind’. The truth of the matter is that you don’t always have to be hustling. Sometimes merely looking after your mental space is a hustle in and of itself. So last week I took a week break from my 9-5 busy to be a ‘I’m looking after myself’ type of busy – and I will not apologise for that.
The week was far from a holiday. I spent a lot of time alone with my thoughts, a lot of time trying to distract myself from them, a lot of time crying. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – self care is not all face masks and bath bombs. That being said, I did have a bath; I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, but for the most part I’ve been busy doing the hard stuff. I’ve been busy silencing the guilt I feel for taking off time that I need. I’ve been busy eating breakfast when I didn’t want to and forcing myself to exercise because I know it will make feel better. I’ve been busy leaning into the support around me. I’ve been busy being honest with myself about where I’m at and what I need.
Do not feel shame or guilt for taking time out when you need it, for filling up your calendar with an unconventional kind of busy. You know yourself best. Don’t let anyone try to take away your autonomy or your right to look after yourself – physically and mentally. Just because someone gets up at the crack of dawn, goes to F45, works a 9-5, volunteers for charity, plays a social sport, has a side hustle – that doesn’t make them more successful or superior than you. You are busy finding joy in the simplest moments of life, you are busy learning to be at peace with yourself, you are busy falling in love again with a life you didn’t want.
I’ve been busy this past week – working on my interior, weeding out my mental landscape, repainting the walls and planting new flowers. The place is still a tip and there’s still a lot of work to do; I’m gonna be stuck in this garden for a while I think. Pulling all of these weeds out is exhausting – there’s new ones growing every day. So yeah, I’m plenty busy just trying to look after myself right now, and I’m consistently having to remind myself that this isn’t another opportunity to guilt trip myself, to talk down to myself, to feel inadequate. I’m allowed to be this kind of busy; and so are you. Giving yourself permission to look after yourself is so underrated. That shit is hard, that shit is vital.
So go, be busy.