Almost everyone you talk to these days is busy. Busy working through a long ‘to do’ list, catching up with friends, juggling kid’s activities, attending family commitments, exercising, keeping homes in order… an endless list of things to do.
You know life is crazy busy when you text a friend to meet up for a coffee and the first free space in your diary is 3 weeks away! When did life become so full that fitting in time to see a friend even involved scheduling a time?
The world we connect with now is like a fast paced ride on a six lane highway. We live in a culture that forces us to do, do, do. With the rapid growth of technology it is typical for us to handle a number of tasks in rapid succession. Women in particular work a double shift – working all day and quickly moving into ‘work’ mode at home, with little or no time to sit and rest.
In a world increasingly saturated by interactive screens and wireless technology, we are surrounded with visual stimuli and audio overload. We are pulled outside of ourselves to meet the demands of life – work, emails, paying bills, phone calls, appointments, the needs of other people, etc … With increased schedules, people zone out at night to mindless entertainment on TV or social media, instead of creating time and space to quieten the mind and wind down.
What was once down time – like the quiet drive home from work, has now become a window of opportunity to make a quick phone call. We are both simultaneously over stimulating ourselves and distracting ourselves, from devices that can access us 24/7.
It takes awareness and a conscious effort to create a quality life where you can carve out time for yourself to unwind and experience the ‘quiet’ in a noisy world. Being self-aware empowers you to make better decisions that will impact your life – your health & your well-being.
We tend to get dragged down and overwhelmed by things that accumulate over time and end up cluttering our minds. Examples could be other people’s behaviour, incomplete tasks, frustrations, problems, clutter, unmet needs, overdue books, outdated wardrobe, unresolved issues or guilt over lack of exercise, eating habits, lack of sleep etc…
Make time to rest, relax and reflect
Below are some strategies that I suggest to clients – to enable them to create more space in their lives. Keep in mind that positive changes are more likely to be sustained if they are small and gradual.
Be consciously aware of information you are receiving.
Take control and manage your technology – you decide when to open emails, respond to texts and answer the phone at home.
Examine how much time you invest in watching TV at night.
Most people could claim at least one extra hour each night if they consciously chose to switch off the box in the evening.
Challenge yourself to go for a brisk walk without a device plugged into your ears.
The great bonus with exercise is that it affects a neurotransmitter that has an antidepressant-like effect on your brain. You feel great on your return and you’ll be amazed at what you notice around you when you are ‘present’ during your walk.
Say ‘Yes’ to the things you really want to do.
Saying yes out of obligation builds resentment. Learn how to buy yourself time before committing to something you will later regret.
Cultivate Positive Practices
What activities bring you to a positive feeling place? It could be reading, journalling, walking, meditating, sitting in the sun …Do something that fills your glass.
Remember that what you are good at or skilled at is not necessarily your passion. What is it that you absolutely love to do or would love to spend your time doing if you could? Create time in your life to invest in what you love to do.
Create Your Own Sanctuary
Get creative and find a small space or a small room in your home that can become your haven – a place to unwind and rejuvenate.
Take time to reflect
Reflection allows you time to sit quietly and turn off your ‘monkey mind’- internal chatter. You’ll be surprised at what comes to the surface.
Carry a small notebook with you
Write down anything you remember you need or need to do. Carrying this ‘stuff’ in your head is draining.
Allocate non- negotiable time in your diary each week
Block out an hour in your diary each week - no appointments, no tasks, no racing to anywhere, time just for yourself.
Avoid ‘Cocktail Conversation’
These are the times you are at a social gathering making small talk with people you’ll never see again. Aim for more meaningful interactions.
Can you delegate tasks or pay someone to do a job for you? Last year I started paying a lawnmower to come in and keep our grass cut. It’s the best $25 I spend each fortnight. Arriving home to freshly mowed lawns gives me so much satisfaction. And … I am giving someone else business - win/win!
Lose the People Pleasing Badge
This has to take a hike as you start putting yourself first. If at first you struggle with this, remember that the better care you take of yourself the more you can give genuinely to others.
Practice Being Present
Being ‘present’ is a real buzz word these days – you read about it in every self–help book and self-development article - but what does it really mean? Aren’t we present all of the time as a consequence of showing up and living our lives? Being present simply means to be fully engaged in the moment – not time travelling in your mind to the past or the future. This takes practice but is worth getting better at!
Don’t let a crisis be the catalyst to bring you to a halt, forcing you to make immediate changes. Be aware of what you are filling your life with and gradually make small changes. A high quality life has a lot to do with what you remove from it rather than what you add to it. Create your own space in a busy world, to take time to rest, relax and reflect.