Improve Your Sanity by Increasing the White Space in Your Life

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We are sitting here patiently waiting for the snow to arrive.  We’ve had a disappointing winter so far when it comes to snowfall totals, so there is some eager anticipation here in the Starks house.  The prediction is for only one inch of accumulation, so there’s that.  But still, looking out at a blanket of white, even a thin one, would be nice.

It’s been a tiring week, and several times I found myself yearning for some white space.  Life is extra full right now, but I do see light at the end of the tunnel.  In times like these, I have developed a reflex mechanism: I seek out white space in my days.

Way back when, I didn’t do that at all.  I just plowed on like my life depended on it, and figured I’d sleep when I was dead.  The trouble is, not resting or taking a breather takes its toll on both your physical and mental health.

When things start to spiral out of control, here is what I do:

Take a nap

If part of my burning the candle at both ends involves not getting enough sleep, I try to fit a nap in.  I find it difficult to think about and plan a nap, so instead, I settle on the couch with a blanket and a book, and in no time, I’m out.  Such was the case today.  I’ve been waking at about 3:30 in the morning this week, and I can’t get back to sleep.  My short nap won’t correct the full sleep deficit from this week, but it was better than nothing.

Go to bed early

A theme is developing!  When life is throwing curve balls and sending extra stress our way, the most important thing we can do to take care of ourselves is to get good, restorative sleep.  This is on my agenda this evening, to be sure.

Drink lots of water

While drinking water isn’t exactly a white space generator, it can be if you practice it mindfully.  I make sure I’m drinking my usual copious amounts of water when stressful, busy times hit.  But I also will stop and look out of the window while I’m drinking it, versus my normal less mindful chugging.

Triage your calendar

When I hit my fatigue wall this morning (after waking at 3:30 and not falling back asleep), I looked at what was on my agenda today.  I moved all non-urgent items forward on my calendar, and just doing that helped me relax.  Somehow not seeing tasks and obligations can ease your mind and allow you to experience that desirable white space.  Consider what appointments or obligations can be postponed or simply canceled.

Spend some time alone

As an introvert, it is necessary for me to regroup inside my own head by spending some time alone.  But extroverts might also find it helpful, even if only for 15 to 30 minutes.  The rationale is to eliminate some external stimuli while you gather yourself.  For me, this usually looks like reading, but you might find a different activity to quiet your mind for a short time.

Be kind to yourself

The last thing you need when the wheels are falling off is to berate yourself.  Instead, stop and breathe, and recognize you are human and fallible.  Give yourself a little hug, or a smile in the mirror, and even a pep talk if that will help.  Try not to turn to vices such as junk food or alcohol in your effort to be kind to yourself.  Keep it positive and know that this, too, shall pass.

Ask for help

Don’t be afraid to ask your family, coworkers, and friends when you need some support.  We all need a hand now and then.


How do you regain your sanity when it seems like your hair is on fire?  Do you have regular practices to maintain some white space?  Share below!  Or if you want to start a discussion with some like-minded friends, join the free SimpleMoney Community on Facebook to share your thoughts!

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The Importance of White Space in Life and Money

Use Time Blocking to Add White Space to your Life



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