Simplify Your Life and Quiet Your Mind on The Spin Cycle

When life gets crazy, as it often does, it’s important to find routine and normalcy. My days usually include quiet time for writing and creating, but lately I’ve been pressed for time and am struggling with extra uncertainty and unpredictability. Sometimes that fuels my work and other times it’s an interruption. We all lose our groove and feel scrambled during transitions or hectic times, but it’s our approach that determines the outcome.

I am in the midst of transition and don’t see that changing for a few weeks, so instead of fighting it or making it more dramatic than it really is, I am finding solace in simple, predictable chores. Doing laundry, wiping down counter tops and making the bed keep me centered, and focused. There might be an argument for procrastination as well, but leaning on simplicity eases the stress of the more complicated things.

Find comfort and escape in the mundane

  • If you get lost, do the laundry. You know how to do that. You don’t need input or direction. Just do it.
  • If you feel scattered, wash the dishes. Turn off your dishwasher and wash each dish as if it’s the most important thing you have to do.
  • If your mind is racing, hang out by the spin cycle. Let the background noise quiet your mind.
  • If you are anxious, sweep the floor. Sweep up your worry along with the dust (and dog hair in my case).
  • When things get messy, shine your sink. If your to-do list is out of control or your mind is full of idea and you don’t know where to start, clean your sink.

When your life is not exactly as you want it to be or as you think it will be, time is still passing and your life is still your life, even during times of transition. Instead of thinking about today as a stepping stone to tomorrow, remember that this is it. This is your life right now. You deserve to life fully everyday, even during the craziness.

Living fully sometimes includes those periods of time where you have to get through, get by, hang on and breathe deeply, but those same chunks of time are not a pause from life. They are part of your big, beautiful, sometimes messy, whole-hearted life and you decide how you will experience them.

Your transition, upheaval, health issue, or funky mood isn’t the first and won’t be the last. Remove drama, fear and worry by centering yourself with the simple things. Don’t rush. Let things unfold. They always do.

Even simple lives get complicated, but we always have the spin cycle.

 

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Comments

  1. says

    It probably sounds weird to some people, but I really do find hand-washing the dishes relaxing. The first 15 years of my adult life, I lived in old houses with no dishwashers and so got used to washing everything by hand, looking out the window. Now we have a dishwasher, but I frequently still wash things by hand just because I enjoy it. It’s a good way to slow down and just breathe.

  2. says

    Good advice.

    I am currently in the midst of a HUGE transition, and soon many of those housework-type tasks will no longer be a part of my life. I’ve found it helpful to stay focused on the big picture–and NOT plan out the details. Also, making sure my morning routine and periods of quiet, alone time happen has been vital.

  3. says

    Sorry you’re in a crazy time right now. It’s true what you say that “it isn’t the first and won’t be the last” time things are down. I find that if I focus on what I’m grateful for that I can shake the funky mood or lessen the impact of the bad situation. There’s always something to be grateful for if only being able to plant your feet on the ground and get a second chance each day.

    Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com

  4. Elizabeth says

    This is EXACTLY what I do when I’m stressed, too! I clean the kitchen counters or sink, do a load of laundry, scrub the stove, etc., all while trying to be mindful and grateful. It reminds me of a favorite book, “Chop Wood, Carry Water,” about the Zen approach to finding the spiritual in everyday life. Thank you for reminding me!

  5. says

    We find great solace in our habits, Courtney. They are always there when we need them and there are many from which to choose. The guitar is my oldest friend, 27 years now. It is one of the many habits I can turn to when I feel a little stress. I cannot recall a time that it did not do the trick. And the better I get at it, the greater salve it is when I need it. Wonderful post and list of ideas;)

  6. Arianne says

    When I am stressed about my to do list (or other major life things), I stop & pick one thing (usually cleaning the kitchen). I apply myself fully, sometimes in the quiet, sometimes with music. When that one thing is done, then I pick one more thing. After one or two items, I can step back & look at the big picture again without freaking out.

  7. says

    I think we all are too hard on ourselves especially when life isn’t going so great. Perfectionism? Your strategy of doing simple chores instead of fighting the craziness and making it worse is great advise. The quiet moments aren’t procrastination but a time to clear your head and come up with the best solutions to dealing with the craziness.

  8. Megan says

    This is great. 12 step groups advise “do the next indicated thing…” which has saved my butt many times. Whenever the big pictures is too big, just do the one next indicated thing. Often that IS the laundry or dishes. Love this post.

  9. says

    I am so glad that I am not the only one who cleans and finds chores grounding in the midst of transition. I’m at the end of one transition right now (though I’m sure there are more to come! Thank you life!) and I’ve found that I’ve had to let the prayer/meditation/quiet time go. But getting out the vacuum and getting clean floors gives me the same centeredness as my 20 minute meditation. It reminds me that this is life (even if I don’t like parts of it) and that I can still “accomplish” something in the midst of it all. Thank you for this simple reminder and twist on the every day chores…Love and Peace be with you.

  10. says

    Practical and comforting advice. Laundry has been my go-to task for years when things seem out of sorts or out of control. I start rummaging through the hamper, sorting in my meticulous way, and I feel better. Blessings to you in your transition.

  11. says

    Hello Courtney, just reading this post makes me feel calm. A pleasant little happening brought a little more peace into our world. The dishwasher decided to bite the dust. We actually like the little routine of washing the dishes after every meal, letting them drain, and then just using them again the next day. It may sound “out there” to say this, but it has even made our relationship better. We take turns and talk while we scrub!

  12. MelD says

    Back in 2000, it was discovering Flylady that made for a huge turnaround in my life – so happy to see your link!
    It’s not a quick fix and some things went downhill before changing for the better, but 13 years on, she saved my life, my kids, my marriage and my sanity with a few simple mantras.
    I do all of these things automatically, now, though mindfully, and it makes space for the important things in life :)

  13. says

    Even if I’m a male person, I do find hand washing dishes and clothes, cleaning the house, and cooking to be moments of peace and quiet. I especially like the moment when I fold my clothes and put them back on my closet. My heart celebrates after I see everything in order. :)

  14. says

    I remember in our recent move, a potentially stressful situation, how much I enjoyed mopping the floors. So peaceful, calming and relaxing. I didn’t realise until you wrote this that I use the same technique too.

    Thanks for our insight.

  15. says

    Great ideas Courtney. I love how routine household tasks can ground me when life is in a whirl! I also like to note down anything I need to deal with or make a decision on – a ‘brain dump’ onto a list – so I know I’m not overlooking anything and I can relax knowing I’ll get to it all at some stage.

    I also recently wrote a post (One With Life) about using a different perspective to look at life which helps me deal with complexity and reduces my urge to rush – http://www.extraorganised.com/2013/05/one-with-life.html

    All the best with your time of transition. I’m sure the adventure will add plenty of fuel to your creativity and I’m looking forward to reading more of your writing!

  16. says

    This post was such a great reminder to me to practice the art of doing nothing. To set aside time that has the sole purpose of forcing myself to stop, stop moving, stop thinking, stop planning, stop wishing and stop worrying.

    It’s been through advice like in this post that you become able to do this, its just so frightening how easy it is to forget to do those things you know make you happy, content and peaceful.

    Thanks for the reminder

  17. barjinder sidhu, says

    Its very helpful , so practical simple lesson, Does work immediately. Thanks so much for such a valuable lesson, God bless you.

  18. Loretta says

    Love the Flylady…who teaches us to create calm in our lives through simple routines. Now I have another source for advice..Be more with Less. Thanks!

  19. says

    Thanks for speaking to this challenge! I think those of us who strive for simplicity can feel like failures when elements out of our control turn things upside down. I’ve done household chores in the midst of anxious times, but never understood why. I’d think, “Why am I doing this right now? I should probably be doing —.” Now that you’ve spelled it out for me, I think I’ll be able to respect this coping technique and relax into it. :)

  20. says

    I so agree! This has been a whopper of a week and I have found that doing simple tasks around my home have helped me to calm down and feel grounded. Even if I can’t control my life’s circumstances I can keep my immediate surroundings feeling peaceful and clutter free. Thank you for this lovely reminder.

    Best,
    Lisa