Sustained busyness is taking a toll on the quality of our lives and our relationships.
Free time. Two words that most people, including children, are unfamiliar with and wish they had more of.
Our free time has been filled with work, errands, chores, extracurricular activities, social obligations, classes, projects…the list goes on. And to top it off, we are always connected. Thanks to technology, we are reachable at all hours, wherever we are, whatever we’re doing. All of these things can lead to feeling overwhelmed, stressed and irritable.
Being ‘on‘ all of the time, always rushing from one must-do task to another negatively affects our health and wellbeing along with our productivity, creativity and ability to focus. Our relationships can also suffer as we don’t have time to communicate and connect. The good news is, you can stop the ‘hamster on a wheel‘ mentality and slow down without falling behind.
Here are ways to slow down, relax and reclaim a balanced life.
Find your sweet spot
We all get to a point when we feel overwhelmed. Instead of trying to function in that state, give yourself time to wrap your mind around the task or situation at hand. Take a short walk, sit outside in the sun, listen to your favorite soothing songs. Give yourself an opportunity to find your sweet spot’, the place where you are both relaxed and productive. When we focus on all the details that need done, we get overwhelmed. Walking away for a few minutes allows us to reset and get to a place of acting mindfully versus reacting out of anxiety and panic.
Take a slow moment
As we dash through our days, we don’t take time to slow down. When was the last time you ate lunch at your desk or in the car as you rushed off to yet another appointment? Next time you’re sitting at a stoplight, look around and see how many people are checking their smartphones. You’re most likely among them, trying to get one more thing done in your crazy-busy day.
It’s moments of silence that can start to open up all kinds of doors. You’ll get the fast payoff of the enjoyment, the recharging, the replenishment of having a slow moment.” ~Journalist Carl Honore, author of In Praise of Slowness
Start small by taking five minutes each morning, enjoying your cup of coffee without checking emails, tidying the house or making a business call. And during lunch, find a peaceful place to eat your meal that doesn’t involve chores or tasks. Eventually, you’ll fid that these savoring moments will flow into other areas of your life as well.
Our frenetic lives can get in the way of our ability to linger and enjoy. We have rushed lunches with friends, multi-task rather than sitting down to a meal with our family or take time to relax and do something enjoyable.
“Busyness robs us of the desire to linger, it tells us that…if you’re not doing something, you’re wasting time, which is crazy. Time is time. You can spend it in different ways. It never gets hoarded or saved,” says Fred Bryant, social psychologist at Loyola University in Chicago.
Bryant suggests snapping mental photos of times where you’re enjoying yourself. It helps us pay attention to the things we really want to enjoy and remember even after the moment has passed.
Another thing that busyness inhibits is mindfulness. When we are on the go, we are in the mode of getting things down, accomplishing instead of being aware of what is happening in that moment and how we are reacting. Being mindful doesn’t mean passing judgment on ourselves but rather noticing how we feel and how we are participating.
To enjoy life and be at our best, we need to slow down, create awareness and balance, take time to linger, and find that place where we are functioning at our best. This, too, takes practice but is a journey that reaps many wonderful rewards.