For the past few Sundays, I’ve been trying something different. That something different is giving myself permission to do nothing. Yes, that’s right, nothing. This has been one of the more stressful times in my life, and a time when I feel like my brain is being pulled in every direction. At the end of January, my boyfriend and I moved to a new apartment, and anyone who has ever moved knows that moving is stressful. There are so many things to think about and plan for before the move, but there is just as much to plan for after the move. I’ve been trying to organize our new space, decorate it, and restock our shelves, not to mention learn a new neighborhood and new daily routine. Then there is this whole thesis thing. I am likely in better shape than I think in terms of getting first, second, and third drafts on paper, but that has not stopped the laundry list of things I have to worry about and obsess over when it comes to my writing. Is it good enough? Is anyone going to care? Can I actually get this done by May? Add constantly searching for and applying to jobs, and it’s a lot to juggle every day. So a few Sundays ago I thought, why am I making myself crazy all day, every day? I decided to give myself a break.
I am spending my Sundays unplugged now, trying on a new, yet old-fashioned routine. I have always loved newspapers, the way the newsprint feels in my hands, the crinkle and crumple of trying to adjust the pages, the way the ink smells. Growing up, my parents had the newspaper delivered everyday, but the day I truly remember them sitting down and reading the entire paper was Sunday. It was what they did after we came home from church, and I did it with them. Admittedly, I was more interested in the comics and word jumbles than the front page news, but reading the paper is something I still greatly associate with lazy Sunday afternoons. So I’ve been treating myself to a thick Sunday newspaper, which eats up most of my mornings. I wake up on Sundays, brew a cup or two of coffee, sit down at the kitchen counter and spread out the paper, reading it as close to cover-to-cover as possible. I leave the TV off, leave my computer shut down and my phone off so I have no distractions. Let me tell you – it has been lovely.
There is something so calming about sitting in silence and taking a moment for yourself. It has really helped to focus my mind, and clear it out so that later in the day I can get some writing done without all the pressure and distraction of sitting at my computer. Computers and smart phones are such tricky things. My life is certainly enhanced by my devices, and I love so many things about technology, but I hate how accessible it makes me, how distracted. It is so tempting to constantly refresh e-mail and social media, instead of working or even instead of taking the time to do something you enjoy. Too often I find myself mindlessly sitting behind my computer screen when I could be reading, or taking a walk, or checking out a new cafe in my new neighborhood. But I know that it is also easy to make myself feel guilty for taking a moment to myself for a walk or a trip to the coffee shop. There is always something else I am worried that I should be doing.
And that is where Sunday mornings come in now. Since I began this new routine of leisurely starting my Sunday mornings with the newspaper, I find myself looking forward to waking up on Sunday mornings. Instead of thinking about how much work I need to do in the coming week, I find myself thinking about what I want to do for myself. It is a delightful moment of selfishness that I allow myself every week. Of course, I don’t stay completely unplugged, but I don’t let myself turn on my computer or the TV until well after noon, sometimes it has even been after dinner before I open my laptop, something I never would have thought I would say even a month ago. I hope this is something I can keep up with, a small way I can continue treating myself throughout the year.
Sometimes, it really is the little moments and allowances that can make the biggest differences in our minds and moods.