Break for Wellbeing
We’re all familiar with the phrase “stop and smell the roses” (or the 20th century version “stop and smell the coffee”), which essentially means to take a break from our hectic schedules and enjoy the simpler things in life.
We all know we should do it, but in our daily role as mother, sister, daughter, professional, friend, volunteer, homemaker, chef, among others, how many of us really do take the time to slow down, much less stop to smell the roses?
There are only 24 hours in a day and there’s only one of you, you say! Well, that’s precisely the reason why we need to consider the long-term implications of this hectic fast-paced lifestyle and realize that we’re doing physical, mental and spiritual damage to ourselves. It’s difficult to live without our day-planners, pocket calendars, Blackberries, Treos or lists we make each day — but, the fact is, if you step back and take a look at your schedule for the past few months, heck few years, you’ll find very little downtime.
I challenge you to track yourself for a few months to see what your weekends are like, see if there is anytime during those 48 hours where you just stop and sit, not read, not talk on the phone, not watch TV, not DO anything, but rather just BE. Just sit and listen to the rain outside, or watch your cats frolic with each other or just stare into space and think. You might find that you don’t.
However, there are ways in which you can do this:
Rid yourself of clutter of any nature.
1. Determine what kind of clutter you have. Because, whether you’re a pack rat and can’t bear to throw anything away (physical clutter) or have an overly packed schedule (mental clutter) or even things in your life from your past, traumas you experienced as a child (emotional clutter), this all contributes to your hectic life.
2. Clean out the closet. This is something you can do both literally and metaphorically to help you slow your pace. A good rule of thumb for your physical closet — if you haven’t missed it in a year, you probably will never need/use it again … throw it out or give it away to someone less fortunate than yourself.
3. Try and lighten your calendar by spacing out social engagements. Don’t plan more than one thing on the weekend. Better still, if you plan a social activity one weekend, try and leave the next one free of any obligations.
It’s ok to say NO! — We all feel the need to be the good friend, make the effort to be the one to reach out, volunteer at our kids’ school or the charity of our choice because we believe its part of what defines who we are. Be that as it may, allow yourself to do it in moderation. It’s all right to occasionally say that you’re not available (not because you have a conflicting appointment, but because you just need some downtime).
We often find that our way of coping with emotional issues is to fill our lives with as much activity as possible, leaving no time to actually think or process uncomfortable thoughts. We all bring emotional baggage into our relationships be it from our childhood or past relationships — at some point it’s up to us to refuse to allow that baggage to rule our lives. It’s up to us to free ourselves of that cloud that hangs over our head — whether its through therapy or reaching out for love and support from one’s family, it is important to come to terms with your past and put it behind you so that your present and future can be more fulfilling.
Meditation or quiet time helps.
If you’re helplessly bound to schedules and calendars, then schedule in some downtime for yourself, even if its just five minutes a day. Find a quiet place where you can relax and concentrate with the least amount of distractions, sit comfortably and find a word or phrase that works at calming you down or stare at the flame of a candle.
According to a paper presented at the 2006 Annual Meeting of Neuroscience, studies conducted at the University of Kentucky found that meditation increased alertness in students better than napping or caffeine. While research regarding the effects of meditation is in its infancy, it may very well be that it could help maintain brain function and alertness throughout life.
Perhaps, the only time we truly stop and slow down is when we’re incredibly sick. Not just a cold or sore throat, because even that doesn’t seem to slow us down these days, but truly sick. Yet, sadly, that’s our body’s way of telling us that it’s taking matters into its hands. That if you can’t take care of it, and then it won’t take care of you.
Yes, there’s only one of you and this is precisely why it’s important to slow down. You want to stay healthy both physically and spiritually, because you’re no good in all your roles if you’re not. So kick up your feet and just sit for a while.