Right now, I feel like I’m going through life at 100mph. I work full-time at The Hoxton hotel, freelance as a writer and blog… sporadically. I’m also in the process of buying a house, helping organise my sister’s wedding and I am half-heartedly training for the London Marathon. It’s all go, which is fine and manageable through the week, but it all sort of falls apart at the weekend. Friday nights are often Prosecco-filled and blurry, Saturdays sort of just happen and Sundays whizz by in a flash.
Although I thrive on a mad lifestyle, every few months I snap. Usually in front of my boyfriend, who, while being supportive as I weep into his shoulder, I know is thinking, “I told you so.” But, if I’m not willing to take Monday to Friday in the slow lane, I guess I need to be better at taking Saturday and Sunday down a notch instead.
I’ve read that slow weekends, borne out of the slow movement, could be the answer to sanity. Slow weekends aren’t about spending your Saturdays and Sundays doing things deliberately slowly; they’re about the notion of doing things well – a cultural revolution that’s against the idea that speed is always the solution. They’re also about savouring the hours and the minutes, instead of just letting them fly by. Because, in this day and age, boy do they fly by.
The first thing that springs to mind as being “slow” is yoga, which I do every Wednesday morning. However, as much as I enjoy it, I’d say I really only come away from one out of every five sessions feeling like it was a good class. Good for me isn’t one where I don’t wobble in new poses, but one where my mind doesn’t wander, but is instead there, with me, calm on the mat. It seems that going into any class feeling more relaxed is key. In fact, we have Fat Buddha Yoga classes at The Hoxton every Sunday, so I vow to try this instead.
Another aspect of slowing down my weekend is readdressing my bathtime. I love the idea of a long, sumptuous soak but, more often than not, if I do manage to squeeze one in, it’s while dinner is cooking and my brain is preoccupied with, “Please don’t be bubbling over, please don’t be burning.”
The answer? Morning baths. In the 30 minutes of uninterrupted, luxurious me-time, I think about painting my toes, how I quite like my feet, what I am going to write in my email to my grandpa, and I feel noticeably calmer and more collected for the rest of the day.
But it’s the phone which is the real weekend time-zapper, so I take the advice of anxiety expert and author of The Anxiety Solution (www.calmer-you.com) Chloe Brotheridge and consciously take myself off social media, throwing my phone under the bed out of reach when I wake up. And you know what? It feels great. My eggs taste just as bloody good as they would have done without seeing everyone else’s version of them first. I’m feeling more content, more here and, hello, I just gained an hour. Taking it a step further, Chloe swears by the idea of SOS (that’s Switch Off Sunday). I love the idea of that, but baby steps...
Scheduling in downtime is another Chloe tip. She argues that weekends have an easy habit of slipping away in a blink, often because there’s little structure. I try – and enjoy – blocking out 4pm to 5pm on Sunday and, in this hour, I do stuff for me. I take off my make-up really slowly, and cleanse and moisturise my face. I have a quick shower, shave and moisturise my legs, and put on my comfiest thick socks and sweats. I make the fanciest gin and tonic I can, with the majority of the fruit bowl going in, and savour every sip… The best thing about it is that I’ve still got the whole of Sunday night left afterwards.
Chloe’s self-soothing techniques — a hand massage, calming music, a hot milky drink — are all a bit hippy-dippy for me. I feel like I’m really just doing them for the sake of it. I know “hygge” is the buzzword of the moment, but it’s a little forced in this sense. Candles, I’m on board with. Hand-massaging? I struggle to find time for that.
On reflection, after a few weeks of trying, I’ve definitely noted the advantages of slowing down a little. Morning baths, yoga sessions when my mind’s not racing, phones under the bed and blocking out a time slot for me to think about me – they’re all easy, manageable things I can do that will make my weekends more worthwhile.