My days right now look like a rinse and repeat of wake up, go to the house, come home, cook dinner, shower, sleep. It’s full on as we work towards our September 7th renovation deadline, and so anything other than that laundry list of activities is off the table. I am not hanging out with my friends, I’m not reading, I’m not working out, I’m not so much as replying to texts. Hell, I’m writing this blog post in the passenger seat of the van as we sit in traffic en route to the builders merchant.
At first I found this really tough. I generally find that if I’m not spending time doing the little things that make me feel like me (reading stacks of fantasy books, walking in the forest, cute little coffee dates, paddling in the sea, riding my bike), my mental health dips really fast. And that was definitely the case when things got busy at the house initially. But since then, there’s a few things I’ve implemented to keep my head grounded, and to make sure I’m still able to enjoy the renovation process and not just survive it.
The sanctity of the morning coffee. Look, I’m not saying I’m getting a blissful morning routine every day, where I sit with a coffee and a book on the balcony luxuriating in the sun. But where I can, I’m trying to take my first coffee of the day back to bed and enjoy five minutes of peace (read: scrolling on my phone). Whilst a lot of mornings look a lot like a takeaway cup of coffee drunk en route to the house, the mornings that start with that slower five minutes inevitably lead to a better day.
Leaning in to the chaos. I saw a Tiktok the other day that said, in times of stress and when life feels chaotic, lean in. Pushing back against the madness inevitably leads to more stress, whereas leaning into it feels much easier. Someone said to me the other day ‘how are you so calm about all this?!’ after I’d described our week of gas leaks and burst pipes. And honestly, once you accept that you’ve just got to roll with these things and fix them, it’s much less stressful. Ultimately, there’s nothing you can do but fix it, so stressing about it serves no purpose. Rolling with the punches makes them hurt a lot less.
Evening meditation. Meditation is one of those things I’m always annoyed makes me feel better, like exercising on your period or eating vegetables. However, back in July it started to feel like a necessity, so I’ve worked a short ten minute meditation into my evening routine. Just enough time to clear my head at the end of the day so I can fall asleep faster and sleep deeper. I’ve been using the Peloton app and highly recommend.
Automating where you can. I spent an afternoon back in May putting a few systems in place to just make life easier, and by that I mostly mean shopping. A litany of Amazon subscribe and saves for everything from oat milk to vitamins, a standing grocery shop delivery on a Sunday night, and a monthly treat from Pasta Evangelists to keep the spirits high. Not having to think about these day to day things has taken a massive amount of pressure off, because its just all taken care of for me.
Time in the garden. Whether its just eating my lunch, picking tomatoes in the greenhouse, or carving out an hour to tend to our jungle plot, the time outside is doing wonders for my general stress levels. Time in nature always makes me feel more grounded, and I’m starting to think I might actually be solar powered you know.
Snacks, snacks, snacks. I started to realise that a lot of the big reactions I was having to things at the house were actually more to do with being hungry than being stressed. Whoops. We’ve since stocked the larder cupboard with stacks of Oreos, cereal bars, mini cheddars, and they seem to be helping keep my mood on a lot more of an even keel.
Cutting myself a break. Ultimately, renovating a house IS stressful, so I’m trying to remember it’s okay to be overwhelmed. It’s okay that I’ve had to say no to socialising, and it’s okay that the flat is a mess. It’s all in service of the greater good, and in a few months time when we’re in our house it’ll all be worth it.