Ebb and flow is defined as the recurrent pattern of decline and regrowth. Saying it like that does make it seem like we’re all taking steps backwards far too often, but I’ve come to understand that ebb and flow (much like the sunrise and sunset) is a natural part of life.
We’ve all been on the top of our games for a while, only to come crashing back down to where we started a week later, right? Apart from we’re never really back where we’ve started. With every high and low – of work, life and love – we learn more about ourselves and the world around us and have often developed in ways not quite visible to the naked eye.
The last month has been a rocky one for me. With a lot on my plate, I’ve felt the effects of my ebb and flow a little harder this time around. I talk about my own situation in my recent post, An Update Full of Scary (Grown-Up) Things, but today I’ve shown up to share with you a few things that have kept me level during my high periods as well as these lower ones.
To ease the frustration of apathetic days and weeks, embracing self-care rituals helps me keep my head above water. Similarly, learning to step back and big-picture plan when necessary has knocked busy weeks down a peg. Whether you’re currently being drawn back out to sea, or are in full swing amongst personal projects and exciting deadlines, I’m sure something down here will be of value to you.
So, up or down, high or low, these are 5 actions or habits that can help us all maintain level ground.
Self-Care Comes First
I can tell you (from very personal experience) that the first thing to go out of the window when the sea is choppy, is self-care. Maybe not completely, but in ways that are individual to us all, it becomes easier to drop those extra rituals that we perform.
Making an extra effort (or extra time) and continuing to perform those rituals that keep you on track provides stability. They become a pause during those busy days where your to-do list is as long as your arm, but also a warm up and familiarity on those days where you can’t bare the thought of walking out the door.
For me, cleansing and moisturising are my rock when things are good and bad. When I’m rushing around and don’t know where to start, cleansing my face (even if it is mid afternoon) gives me a chance to plan my next few moves. Likewise, when I can’t face the world, I still try to cleanse each day. It makes me feel better about myself and if I’m feeling adventurous it can even lead into a mini pamper session.
Keep Your Eggs in Different Baskets
Holding your breath and waiting for big things to come through is all kinds of exciting and excruciating. Holding your breath on one big thing, however, is a death sentence (I mean, quite literally). From personal experience, I can tell you that although an opportunity can seem like it – the be all and end all, the perfect opportunity – in reality, it’s rarely as perfect it seems and it’s a wiser move to not stake all your bets on it.
You won’t always be in the position to even out all your energy, but whether it’s progressing with a personal project or just throwing a few ideas out into the universe, it will take the pressure off the-big-thing.
I’ve had opportunities presented to me completely out of the blue, some of which I wouldn’t have even considered if I’d been 100% focussed on the thing ruling my life at that moment. It took me a while to open up, but learning to just enjoy the exploration stages of projects and opportunities has helped me create more chances for myself. Start keeping your eggs in different baskets, and you’ll know what I mean.
Try (and Fail) At Living in the Moment
Living completely in the moment is one of those pretty unattainable life goals that’s been hammered into us. Is it very realistic? In my opinion, not really – especially in times of ebb and flow. A few months ago I shifted my focus from living completely in the moment to appreciating the little moments of feeling present in a moment (Focusing On The Little Things). Since doing this I’ve said goodbye to the pressures of always being present and also started to enjoy effectively planning my next steps…
Planning is a difficult thing to do when we’re all being so present. We feel guilty about getting excited about the future, but ignoring it until it’s upon us can land us in a more stressful and hectic situation. I guess the thing here is the balance. Enjoy the little things and plan the big things (as much as you want).
Indulge in Self-Help
Growing up, my Mum always had a shelf full of self-help books. I don’t think she was crazy or unstable (let me know, Mum), instead she seemed focussed on the self-development side of self-help. Self-help books might carry a stigma around with them, but self-development books are kind of all the rage, aren’t they?
At least in the blogging world, books that indulge our need for self-love and encourage a focus on self-development are doing their rounds and I love them. I’m not a fan of fiction generally, so finding a category of book that I enjoy reading is a massive achievement anyway, but when that same book can inspire me to do something differently, or see something differently, then that’s truly wonderful to me.
Especially during ebb periods, grounding yourself within your own self-development is something that ensures you’re still progressing. Maybe things have plateaued out (or something hasn’t gone the way you planned), thankfully a good self-help book is there to catch you. Before you know it you’ve levelled up your outlook and things have picked up again.
Find Comfort in the Uncomfortable
Yes, I did steal this from one of Jillian Micheal’s workout videos… but despite the source, the somewhat-harsh-but-true reasoning is all there. The amount I’ve been pushed and stretched so far in 2017 has been anything but comfortable. A funny thing happened to me recently though… for a day or so I retreated back into my old comfort zone and it suddenly felt unbearably uncomfortable.
When we push ourselves often enough, we naturally find comfort in that feeling of growth. Recognising this feeling and knowing that resorting back to my old ways isn’t what soothes me anymore is a great cure for the ups and downs of life.
Like always, it’s okay to have a slow day, but there’s a difference in giving yourself a break and stopping the personal growth we’re achieving. Finding comfort in the uncomfortable is best done by leaving your comfort zone (which is in constant flux) each and every day. Whether it’s smiling at someone in the street or pitching to a big brand on a commission… it all adds up.