This is the 35th day since sun has been hiding. And I live in Los Angeles, not Seattle. It has been an unusual summer for us, or maybe I am observing it more closely now that I am not inside a building surrounded by office walls all day. Instead, I freelance now working out of my home so I have more opportunities to stare outside my window, watch the skies and listen to the birds. I have a renewed license to daydream now.
But with the lovely newfound benefits, I am also struggling big time with my new freelancing life. The uncertainties of it have rocked my every atom. Various kinds of anxieties have taken over. I am jittery, I am trembling, I am shaking. My mind is all over the galaxy looking for ways to #figurethisout. With this instability and many new fears, my mental health has taken a hit. Having no sunshine has absolutely not helped; the cloudy days as if outlining my helplessness with my struggles and creating the perfect opening scene for ‘she stared into the abyss’.
So it is natural I am readjusting my mental health management strategies to align better with this new lifestyle. I am skipping in this article the regulars like hitting the gym, meditation, hot baths, and sharing the new habits I am trying to adopt that serve me better to handle my crazy mind right now shaken by recent fluctuations in my life.
1. I listen to the wise guys
I listen to 45 minutes of my favorite speakers every day, mostly spiritual lectures, sometimes interesting Ted talks, but mainly about mind management and soul work. I use my gym time for this. It keeps me focused on something new I am learning rather than stressing about my current situation and wandering to million different unproductive spots in my mind. I then summarise in my mind key takeaways and remember to use them later when lightning hits me again! I was listening to Advaita Vedanta’s Swami Sarvapriyananda today and he talked of a non-grasping mind. Just this one lesson helped me navigate my day better.
2. I say it out loud
I say out loud self-affirmations. ‘I believe in myself’, is the top on the list. ‘Do not freak out’, is another one. I say my prayers out loud. I chant mantras out loud. There is something about listening to your own voice in a quiet space. Every word you utter seems more real, more convincing, when being heard in your own voice. There is also certain magic of saying things you believe in and how they come true.
3. I sit on my artist throne and simply create
I remind myself constantly that this is the dream I always had that has come true; to simply be an artist without zero distractions. This is what I had always wished for, is to simply write and make art. Instead of getting bogged down by challenges of income coming in, I should remember what I had wished for is right here! What a spectacular dream come true story! I make sure that good hours of my day are simply my artistic expressions not burdened by how money is coming in, and who likes it or not, but just productions of my artistic empire.
4. I call my friends and family
I make sure I am keeping my friends and family posted on how I am feeling in this new phase, how things are going, what my plans are, what are my challenges, where I need help. Ok I have not done this yet! But it will be in my habits hereon. It is no secret how significant communication and staying in touch with the world is, with such changes in life. Our support system is our greatest asset. Our loved ones are our greatest healing gems. Even if they can't understand or relate, they can listen with no judgment and say words of encouragement. What else does a freelancer need more than encouragement…and gigs!
5. I identify my shortcomings during this new phase of my life
I shortlist things I need to work on as I adopt this new lifestyle as a freelancer. I noticed quickly I was not able to stay attentive and focused. My mind is very restless and wants to check out the next thing out there. The lack of focus is not letting me explore one option, read one page, write one story, listen to an online course lesson, pitch for a job, in one go. I am extremely impatient all the time that is hampering my learning efficiency, quality of my analysis, overall productivity, and hence my next planning strategies and the eventual execution. Just identifying these shortfalls has helped me monitor them closely, be cautious, and bring my attention and patience back on the table as soon as I slip.
6. I make sure I take my fun breaks
Even if they require investing some money, I take these fun breaks here and there, whether eating out or going for a movie or meeting a friend for a drink. I am learning to not feel guilty about them. I see them as an opportunity to celebrate myself and motivate myself during these times of struggle. I see them as my care package. Of course, many of these fun breaks do not need money. They include walking under the moonlight, smelling the flowers, meditating on the mystic light that connects us all, whether freelancing from a remote island or working in a fancy corporate office in Manhattan.
7. I accept my depression
When depression hits my curtains and my heart, I accept it. I let it be. I feel the sadness that might not necessarily be because of recent changes, but something always integral. I welcome it and let it sit here by me. There is nothing for me to address or fix or problem solve here. We are just two old friends reunited in this sacred space. I sit in this situation no longer labeling it as unpleasant or anything else. It is here and I let it be, just like life.
There is a lot to learn and a long long way to go but I am taking baby steps. I am keeping the big picture in my mind. I am focused on my life goals. I want to live a sustainable life as a creative and a farmer. For this, I am committed.