In today’s world we are driven by the need to succeed to prove our self worth, if we’re not busy we’re not successful, we like to be needed, to feel valued and the busier we are the more valuable we become, or at least that’s how it feels.
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As such we’ve moved to get rid of all the downtime and pauses from our life as these are a waste of time, we could be doing something useful. By trying to maximize every second of every day we’ve got rid of all the opportunities to rest and recharge and have no space left in our lives.
The majority of people I speak to say they don’t have time and that’s the whole problem. The fact we are too busy to take time out to relax is the precise reason it’s so important we do. In a world that encourages noise and business we find it so hard to be quiet and still yet it is a necessary part of good health, a chance to switch off, reflect, think, be still, rest and recharge.
From this busyness comes a pressure to keep going and juggle a thousand things at once, this brings on health complaints to which our response is ‘take a pill and carry on’, there’s no time to rest and recover, but we’re not wired to cope with constant pressure.
Many of us feel that we can’t say no and can’t stop for a rest, and some see it as a sign of weakness and others view it as selfish and feel guilty. If you take time out for yourself it’s not only you that benefits, imagine what a better partner, parent, worker you’d be if you weren’t stressed out and tired, how much more you could give others and how much better your relationships would be.
Taking time out for yourself is anything but selfish, everyone benefits from a better, more refreshed you.
We achieve so much in our lives, bringing up kids, climbing mountains, running marathons but we find it so hard to relax and do nothing. The need to prove ourselves and achieve keeps us pushing the limits and makes us feel guilty if we stop for one minute.
Society has conditioned us to prove our worth through being busy, useful, being needed. Being completely still is one of the hardest but most beneficial things you can do, it takes focus, willpower and patience.
Prioritizing relaxation and self care makes you more alive, more effective and allows better decision making hence making life easier. It is also key for maintaining balance in our busy lives.
I thought I had ‘balance.’ I managed to work a full time job, climb the corporate ladder, play sports, go to the gym and go out with friends at the weekend and if I wanted to do yoga I’d get up for the 6am class before work and then I could talk about balance as I fitted in all my wellness commitments into my busy life.
This was until I burnt out and I realized balance is not trying to do everything and maximize every moment of the day, balance is not keeping as many balls in the air as possible without dropping one, sometimes balance is doing nothing on the weekend because you need to rest, it’s having a week off the gym to give your self chance to recover and it’s saying no when you’ve already got enough on your plate and not feeling like a failure for doing so.
I really believe and have experienced that by slowing down you find more time and I know this sounds crazy but by prioritizing self care we become more effective. By calming the mind and finding time to relax we gain clarity and perspective which helps us make better decisions and perform better as a result.
You’ve heard of the hare and the tortoise and the saying ‘more haste, less speed’ and the bottom line is if you don’t make time for relaxation you will need to make time for illness.
I learned the hard way and now I ensure I prioritize self care. This makes me healthier, happier and it also makes me more effective.
Try these top tips to keep you at your best:
• Take regular exercise
• Eat healthy and drink lots of water
• Get a good nights sleep
• Connect with people you care about
• Listen to your favorite music
• Take time out in solitude
• Remember all the things you’re grateful for
• Take a hot bath, read a book or sit with a cup of tea
• Doing things you love
• Have a massage
• Book a weekend break
• Reduce alcohol and caffeine
• Learn to meditate
• Take time to connect with nature, go outside everyday
• Have a TV free day at least once a week
• Consider a technology amnesty and disconnect from your devices for a day
• Most importantly, find time to relax!