This week (and for the foreseeable future) I’m letting go of all the busyness and giving myself a pause.
Now more than ever might be the best time to stay away from large indoor events and instead, find renewal by slowing down at home or getting outside in nature. Have you seen the hashtag #flattenthecurve? If too many people get sick with the coronavirus all at once our hospitals will be flooded with a demand that they won’t be able to meet.
So it’s time we all gave ourselves some “white space,” like a time-out, but without the negative connotation.
Have you heard of this term before?
I like to define white space as the quiet stillness between all the busyness and chaos. It’s a time when you can be a human being, instead of a human doing. You can think about nothing at all, or think about what matters most—and get to the root of how you want to eat, love, move, sleep and spend your time and money so that you feel light, happy and healthy. It doesn’t have to get complicated, you can keep it simple.
The benefits of white space?
You get to intentionally design a life you want to live.
You get to show up as your best you.
White space is an equal-opportunity gift that we all have access to.
My white space happens in the early morning. I get up in the dark, put the tea kettle on the stove, and pause for 15 minutes while I sit on the couch with no electronics, no journals, nothing but myself. Not only do I feel a sense of renewal, but without willing it, so many ideas come flooding in.
This short time-out is making such a positive impact on my wellbeing and imagination that I’ve decided to incorporate even more white space throughout my day. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer…and I know that taking a break every hour to stand outside in the warm Colorado sunshine with my face soaking in the sunshine will do me good. So that’s next on my list.
This idea of white space is not only practical, but it’s universal.
In Singapore, teachers are given 10% “white space” time to come up with their own innovations outside of the official curriculum. Not only do the teachers get to be more creative, but I imagine they feel a greater sense of independence as well.
One of my first experiences with white space happened over 20 years ago when I lived with a friend for a short period of time in an Orthodox Jewish Community in Caracas, Venezuela. We didn’t turn any electronics from dusk on Friday until after sundown on Saturday. At the time I was in my 20s and trying to soak up as much of the culture as possible. This meant a lot of dancing and socializing so I could practice my Spanish. The intentional slow down was a gift that I relished…but probably wouldn’t have initiated on my own if it hadn’t been the mandate of where I was living.
Another form of white space for many around the globe are Sundays as a day of rest. So let’s take advantage of this and start resting!
So what does white space look like for you?
Perhaps sitting on your front porch watching the clouds? Listening to the birds or listening to nothing at all? And hopefully thinking about how you want to take extra good care of yourself during the Coronavirus pandemic. That would definitely be a good place to put your attention. And if you are prone to a feeling of missing out, flip that script in your head and tell yourself you are not missing out on anything but potentially getting sick and spreading the virus to others. It’s just not worth it.
And if you aren’t sure how to take care of yourself, go back to the basics. Health can feel complicated, but intuitively we all know what is fundamentally good for our wellbeing, and what is not. So get extra sleep. Eat lots of fruits and veggies and slow down your sugar intake. Move your body—jump on a trampoline or take a long walk. Connect with others—write a loved one a letter you actually put in the mail and send a text to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while. Do some deep belly breathing multiple times throughout the day. Use this time to focus on your potential and you’ll come out on the other side leaner, healthier and happier. Be the silver lining during this time of uncertainty. You’ve got this.
I’m in the process of gathering stories of white space and where it comes to life.
Would you be willing to share your experience with white space with me? If so, please do and I’ll eagerly read what you have to share below.
About the Author: Heather Aardema is a National Board Certified Health & Wellness Coach living in Colorado with her husband and two grade-school boys. You can find more of her essays focused on growing healthy and living fully at RootofWellbeing.com.