The eagle-eyed amongst you (and let’s be honest even the casual observer) will have noticed I have been away from the blog and social media for a while now. It is not unusual, there have been several points in the last couple of years when I have had unplanned breaks, and April and May has turned into one of them.
Reducing my time online started in mid-April to give myself a little break after heavily promoting my new book A Tale in Few Words, a break which has now extended around a month. You’ll be pleased to read the reasons keeping my away from the blog are mostly positive ones, and I am certainly not feeling any personal pressure to return to regular blogging.
Mostly, I am offline more because I am busy. As lockdown restrictions have eased in the UK, I have been able to get out and about more. A few weeks ago the Wife and I took a drive to the coast, and we have been able to visit family and even eat out! At the same time, when I am at home, I have been working my way through a couple of heft tomes (The Tale of Gengi and The Boundless Sea) as well as getting on with a first draft of a new novel. Couple with DIY at home and having time to sit down and write for my blog is lacking.
On a less positive note, things are getting busy at work again, with more and more people needing reviews and the length of lockdown restrictions beginning to have a toll for some people. After spending my day reviewing patients, responding to emails and writing notes, I am rarely in the mood for more computer time come evening.
While I have not been writing as much on the blog, I have been thinking about the direction I want to take for the blog, at least in the short term. Options including taking a formal hiatus to focus on other things, or else if I plan to keep writing set myself a goal of getting a post up every week or two to keep things going. I have not quite made up my mind as to the direction. I plan to take, but hope to soon.
I decided to write this post while I was out on a walk this afternoon. One of the things I focussed on last year in this blog but also on social media was mindfulness, frequently offering mindful moments to let people escape from the realities around them, if even for a second. With mental health beginning to strain for many once more, it felt like a perfect opportunity to return to the Mindful Moments, this time with an exercise to focus us in the here and now.
The exercise is 5,4,3,2,1. You may have come across this idea as a way to refocus during an episode of panic, but it can be a good way to focus the mind even when otherwise calm. Really simply, the goal is to focus on:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can hear
- 3 things you can feel
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
Taking the time to focus on the five senses and the things around you helps to centre you, and if the mind wanders as it can often do even when trying to stay in the moment, running through the list again can help centre you again.
This was part of my walk today along the canal towpath, and fortunately a rather quiet part of the walk. While I was walking, I ran through 5,4,3,2,1 as an example, and this is what I could sense around me, see if you can spot them on the video (well the sights and sounds at least).
Five things I could see; the light reflecting off the water, the pollen falling from the trees, raindrops hitting my glasses, leaves rustling in the trees, clouds moving across the sky.
Four things I could hear; birds chirping in the trees, the wind rustling through the leaves, rain falling on the water, my footsteps crunching on the path.
Three things I could feel; the wind blowing my hair, raindrops falling on my face, my phone in my hands.
Two things I could smell; wild garlic in the woods (a beautiful smell), a musty humidity in the air.
One thing I could taste; the orange juice I had just finished.
Whatever you are doing this weekend and the week ahead, try taking a moment to focus your mind on the world around you. When the world is a busy, chaotic, anxiety-provoking place, taking the time to come back to the world around us can do us the world of good.
As for me, after my mindful walk I have a decision to make about this blog, but first, time for dinner! Have a great weekend and I hope the week ahead is a relaxing one.