How quickly did last Christmas arrive for you? Did it catch you by surprise? (again… for the 4th+ year in a row).
As I sit here on this sunny February afternoon having just had a friend point out “autumn is at our doorstep – yay” I find myself reflecting on time.
Busyness. The juggling of modern life.
I often speak with clients about “filling the well” – I get so many people coming in for consultation that are tired, tired all the time, stressed and endlessly busy and often that’s not the “driver” for the consult, just considered to be a “normal” part of life.
Filling the well is for me a vital part of our self care – think of yourself as a well, a well that provides water for your community – your family, friends and even more widely the people you come into contact with day-to-day whether its at work or via other encounters.
If you endlessly give your “water” until the well is empty you have nothing left – not for the aforementioned loved ones and not for yourself.
Giving to yourself and nurturing yourself allows your well to be maintained, not run dry – or at least, be refilled after levels get dangerously low.
And really, how can you continue to give to others if you don’t give to yourself?
We live in a world where we are now contactable 24hours/day…
I went backpacking in Europe in my 20’s with no mobile phone and not even an email address. Similarly, when I was growing up you left the house and until you got back to the house you were essentially uncontactable, if meeting a friend and one of you was late – you waited.
Now we have technology that allows us to get in touch with no or very little delay, be it someone in the same city or someone overseas (or next to us on the couch) we don’t have to wait, we don’t have to write a letter or postcard and wait for a reply – we can text, email, send photos, post a status update…
But hand-in-hand with this is the expectation of reply… right now thanks.
In both our personal and professional lives the demand of being available for more hours in the day is real, imagine leaving work and until you arrive the next day you can completely switch off. For some of you that may be exactly what you do but for an increasing number of people it isn’t.
Work was historically in many cases the traditional 9-5pm Monday-Friday routine, now people work many different shifts and often interact globally regularly. It’s not just the grown-ups that are getting overloaded, kids too are busy – scheduled in a way I certainly don’t remember being… we used to just tear around the neighbourhood as a gang of a varied 4-10 kids, barreling into a house for lunch or snacks and home in time for dinner. After school too there were games of cricket in the street, cubby house building, tree-climbing and sure, there were swimming lessons for some, or music, other sports/activities etc and homework to be done but there was more free time. Less of the arranged “playdate” scheduling and more “I’m just going to ride over and see if Penny’s home”.
Now I can’t fundamentally change much of this (I wish I had the power ;-)…) but I would really encourage you to try to find some more balance within your life commitments. Whether its simply not over-scheduling (you and /or your family), leave some days/nights free… Set some boundaries with technology – phone and computer don’t get accessed after for example 9pm.
No phones/I-pads etc in bed – make sure your kids also do this especially as they get a wee bit older and disappear into social media black holes!
No technology on the dinner table – use the time you eat to enjoy your food, connect with the people around you, or, if alone, pop on some music that you enjoy, listen to a quiz show, a pod cast, an audio book, or sit quietly, breathe, chew, enjoy, reflect on your day… (unless its been a truly stressful day…then maybe music or a glass of wine! ;-)…)
If you need to check work emails on the weekend set yourself times that you do that and the rest of the time have a weekend…spend time with your family/friends and have that time for you, by yourself.
Now, about that time for yourself… a walk, an exercise class, going to the beach, surfing, hiking, rock climbing, drawing, painting, making jewelry, cooking, singing, going to the movies, ten pin bowling, fishing, flying a kite, getting a pedicure, photography, tennis, reading a book, meditation, dancing, gardening, sleeping in, turning your phone off for the day, walking your dog, having a bubble bath… however you do it, do it.
Try to set aside some time for yourself at least 1/week.
Do something that is only “productive” in that it feeds your soul, gives back to you, brings you joy and gives you a moment to breathe and disengage from the busy!
Go on, you deserve it 😉
And honestly – you really need it, everyone needs a little down time, fundamentally you will work better both as a “machine” – ie your body needs time when its not running around, juggling commitments, it needs time to be still, to digest food – food that you hopefully have tasted, smelled and chewed rather than simply swallowed! 😉
It needs time to rest, to recoup and heal itself… time out of that stress response, the sympathetic nervous system drive, time for the parasympathetic nervous system to be the one “steering the ship” as such, allowing your body to heal itself, breakdown old cells, build new ones, liaising with the enteric nervous system (in the gut).
So, you will in the broad general sense function better but, you’ll also find that you’re able to be more productive, potentially have better short-term memory (high stress response over continued periods of time negatively affect short term memory and recall), be less emotionally inflammatory and reactive (again, not guaranteed… there are many personal and life/situational experiences that may need to be supported/addressed for this) and maybe, just maybe you won’t start your week feeling like you’ve just finished a marathon, or be ticking off the days – if I can just get through to Friday afternoon… lets not wish our lives away… time marches quickly enough as it is. Let just slow it down a wee bit as and where we can. Fill your well people. You only get one. Love it. Nurture it. Enjoy it.
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