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Holly's take on it

TAKE A BREAK TO CREATE

I don’t know about you, but in this ever evolving pandemic culture of ‘hustling’ and ‘pivoting’ and trying to carve out ‘a new normal’ (still!), I’m desperate to just stop and take a minute to think. I also don’t want to kick off the year doing the same as I’ve always done. It’s actually so important to me to feel like I’m learning and improving, so it makes it essential to take time to learn from the past to invest in my future and that’s why I’m going to be taking a break to create.

As a founder, I know I’m the Duracell battery of my business, so I need to take time to recharge, and give myself permission to calm my mind in order to come back stronger. I actually think women are the Duracell to all of the units they are part of, be it family or business.

Felt duracell battery

Felt Duracell batteries by Sew Your Soul

For all of us, it’s hard to think clearly when we’re not only mentally exhausted, but also very much under the influence of others on social media, TV and in the press too. Many people’s lifestyles have become almost anti-original somehow – God knows how this has happened, but it has. I think we’ve come to a crux where we must ask ourselves, “Is this really how we want to live?” 

As the female founded, award-winning diversity and inclusion company The Other Box said recently, “Pausing or stopping does not equate to not caring. It can be the difference between being able to continue in the long-term or being overcome with burnout and toxicity. It’s within that pause that we seek to course-correct and find moments of joy.”

As someone with the nickname ‘Holly Hurricane’, taking regular breaks isn’t easy for me. Even though I know it helps me make better decisions, stay focused, retain information and more. But taking regular breaks and doing something reflective or creative? That can be an absolute game-changer I have learnt. 

So let’s stop and refuel our engines in order to help us fly. I know that without input, it’s harder for me to create quality output. So that’s why I’m all about taking time out. And it won’t just help with work, but to live a life less ordinary too. So how do we do it?

Vinegar and Paper Fuel Gauge

Etched fuel gauge by Vinegar & Brown Paper

Analyse the butterflies

I’ll be making a concerted effort not to let all those important moments of the last year (good or bad) flutter past me. This is probably the single most important thing that can propel us forwards and yet the one thing we rarely take enough time to do. It’s worth taking a good look at each ‘butterfly’ because they’ll show you something important. Think about the last Christmas you had, for example. If it went well, why? If it didn’t, how come? If you’re running a business, what were your top five sellers and the bottom? What were customers most interested in and why is that, do you think? Would you have liked to have spent more time collaborating? Or is there a pop-up you’ve always wanted to try? Is it time that small unit on the high street that’s been abandoned, had your love?

If you’re not running a business, who out of your friends and family did Christmas well and what can you learn from them? What drove you nuts? What worked better? How can all this help inform what you might do this year? It’s about taking stock of these key moments and exploring them. Reflecting properly will help you set goals for the future and get more out of life. So be your best detective! What else might help this year?

Embroidered textile art by Yumi Okita

Embroidered textile art by Yumi Okita

Review and rethink how you’re using social media

For me, it’s not about coming off social as I find it’s still such a great way to connect with people and gain inspiration. It’s about setting and keeping better habits potentially. As Michaela Coel said when she won her Emmy in 2021, “In a world that entices us to browse through the lives of others to help us better determine how we feel about ourselves, and to in turn feel the need to be constantly visible, for visibility these days seems to somehow equate to success — do not be afraid to disappear. From it. From us. For a while. And see what comes to you in the silence.” 

Embroidered quote by Girl Friday Embroidery

Embroidered quote by Girl Friday Embroidery

Could you try…

  • Making a conscious decision not to compare your life with the lives of others?
  • Scheduling a specific time to use social media so you’re not constantly on it all day or only using it on your desktop to avoid mindless scrolling? Is it what you do with a morning coffee? After the kids go to bed? 
  • Reminding yourself to take a break every now and then?
  • Using an alarm clock rather than your phone to wake you, so you can leave your mobile in another room and read instead to calm your mind and avoid looking at the light before bed which can negatively impact your sleep? That’s right — giving up any ‘pane of shame’ you might be addicted to before you shut your eyes! 
  • If you’re running a business, using other outlets to reach people to avoid putting all your eggs in one (Instagram-shaped) basket, so maybe keeping some content to use to start a weekly email or newsletter for example and engaging with people in a deeper way? Or as Phillipa Perry says, ‘finding your flow’ so you’re navigating social media your way rather than doing what works for others but might not for you?
Custom letterpress print by The Small Print Company

Custom letterpress print by The Small Print Company

Another idea that can help is to…

Try something new to help you reach the answers you need

  • Like Gretchen Ruben’s brilliant challenge to ‘rest for 22 mins a day in 2022’
  • Or practice in a ‘One sketch a day’ journal by Berylune
  • Or a friend of mine sets herself a challenge to do 10 creative random acts of kindness in 24 hours which takes her to all sorts of unexpected places

Getting out of your comfort zone is a great way to unlock different parts of your brain. Often solutions or ideas sneak up on you when you least expect them. The main thing is to focus on the activity itself not the outcome to avoid putting extra pressure on yourself. It’s also wise to…

Embroidered hoop by Pixie Craft

Embroidered hoop by Pixie Craft

Be mindful of ‘toxic productivity’

One of the trickiest things for me to come to terms with is the idea of ‘wasting time’ or not making the most of every moment. Yet time spent resting or creating is rarely wasted is it? Quite the opposite in fact — as I have to keep telling myself. We know we need to stop the glorification of ‘busy’ as it’s not doing any of us much good. My podcast guest and friend Johnnie Boden once told me to be mindful never to be ‘busy fools’ and he’s right. 

Also as Alan Watts said, it’s wise to, “Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.” I’m getting better at smelling the roses but I’m not going to lie, it isn’t a habit yet. Plus are we really being productive by rushing about anyway? Or are you doing things through habit or for the sake of it? Or because it’s what everyone else is doing? Or, and this is a big one, because it feels good — it’s a warm duvet of familiarity?

productivity cafetiere

Etched French press by Vinegar & Brown Paper

What’s really right for you? What’s the ‘return on investment’ on your actions so to speak? Outline your main goal. Whether it’s to sell a product in Liberty or become less frazzled for example, be productive towards that rather than just across everything as you’ll spread yourself too thin. Let’s all remember that our productivity is not our worth anyway. And you don’t have to be rushed off your glitter trainers to be effective. So if you notice me suddenly go a little quieter than usual soon, don’t worry. I’m not just taking a break, but taking a break to create. 

If you need some inspiration or some wonderful small business finds to help you do this, see my ‘Holly loves…mindfulness’ and ‘Holly loves…creativity’ collections (or if treating yourself to a new notebook always sets you off on the right foot, take a look at my ‘Holly loves…stationery’ collection too).

And do let me know how you feel about taking a break this year in the comments below. I’d love to hear.

 

 

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