I want to take a moment and talk about down time. Now more than ever, we find ourselves running around trying to get an inordinate amount of things done. Between our professional lives, our families, our relationships, keeping in shape and more, there are never enough hours in the day, days in the week and, when we eventually turn around and look back, years in our lives. So how can we possibly take even more time away from our master lists? We get off on major holidays and a couple of weeks a year. We can sometimes afford to get away on vacation and possibly sleep in on some Sunday mornings. And yet somehow it just doesn’t ever feel like enough. Why can’t we ever shake that feeling of being a rat in a wheel?
Surprisingly, the answer isn’t very complicated. But of course that shouldn’t be confused with it being easy to implement. It comes down to the way we prioritize our time and our lives, and our lack of coordination when attempting balance. Being stressed out for fifty weeks a year with the hope of decompressing in two just isn’t going to cut it. In the context of balance, yes, 100 + 0 divided by 2 does equal 50. But adding one extreme to another is, well, extreme. In order to feel truly comfortable, and at peace with ourselves and our lifestyles, it is a good idea to find ways to live within a framework of a middle ground. Within every day, we need to take time for and with ourselves. And it doesn’t matter how much or how little you have to spare, here quality will always trump quantity.
Some people go to the gym and work out hard for an hour. If you only have fifteen minutes on your lunch break, go take a walk. Find a park bench or some water to sit by – natural or otherwise. Even sitting in front of a fountain can yield powerful results. Write some poetry or a letter to someone, or a journal entry or just your immediate thoughts. Read a book for pleasure. And if you have enough time per week for a structured activity, find a hobby. Whether it’s a sport, a musical instrument, a foreign language or anything else you can come up with, imagine being able to do anything you dream of and find a form of that activity to engage in.
The important thing is to realize that while we are all so busy, it comes down to priorities. We find time to eat, sleep, bathe, work, shop, etc. And if there’s something that we really want, we find time for that too. But often, we put “me” time at the bottom of our lists. And so we never get there.
Realize that if we are no good to ourselves, it is impossible to be truly good to others. Self care and developing the inner relationship with ourselves is absolutely essential to create the possibility for healthy outward relationships. When we are happy, we are so much more able to give. The difference between feeling pettiness and judgment, and willingness and compassion, might be as simple as having some of our own needs met. And that all starts with us!
Another amazing thing about self care is that it can lead to greater efficiency. While you may be trading time away from getting things checked off your list, when you return to it you may find that you actually accomplish more. Your new found satisfaction may lead to a lesser degree of distraction and desire to be somewhere else, doing something else.
Either way, here’s what I know for sure: Life is merely a collection of moments. The more satisfying moments you experience, the more satisfying your life. So even if I’m wrong about the increased efficiency and the healthier relationships – and I’m not, but just saying, if I am – in the least you will come away with a more enjoyable life experience.
And that will beat a few extra check marks any day of the week!