Do you feel you never have enough time to do all the things you want to do? That competing priorities leave you feeling exhausted and often there is no time left to recharge your own batteries? While one obvious solution is to reduce the number of activities in your life, that is not always easy – so what to do?
While we can’t create more time in which to undertake the many activities that compete for our attention – we can instead create the feeling of more space in our lives. So rather than feeling overwhelmed and exhausted, feelings of peace and calm have a chance to grow.
Rushing from one activity to another, or having many activities overlap each other; leaves no time to acknowledge the natural conclusion of one activity or the commencement of another. In addition some activities may only be ever partially completed, which further increases the feeling of dissatisfaction. However, creating a pause by acknowledging the end of one activity before moving to the next, provides that much needed space; which when practiced frequently; allows the feelings of peace and calmness to grow. These pauses can be tiny – as small as focussing completely on three deep breaths, where we come back into the present moment and focus entirely on the physical sensation of exhaling and inhaling.
If you can use that tiny space to rest your eyes on an aspect of nature, even if just a picture or photograph, it can have the effect of lowering your stress responses and give you a much needed respite in an otherwise frantic day.
Obviously if you can extend these pauses (which don’t include checking our social media on-line either!), by taking a walk, listening to uplifting music, having a massage or taking a long soak in the bath – then the pauses will be much more beneficial in the longer term. The idea is to engage our other senses – walking in nature, listening, enjoying the feelings of touch on our body, pleasant smells etc. The only visual that counts in this regard is gazing or watching nature – not reading or checking devices…
The more often we inject these conscious pauses into our day, timing them for the natural conclusion of one activity, and before the next one starts – the more feelings of space will be created. Take a pause before making a phone call, or during the time it takes to walk from your desk to a meeting. Or if you’re at home then during the time it takes to walk from one room to another. If you’re driving and are stopped at the lights – taking a moment for some deep breaths and looking out at aspects of nature around you. The act of looking out and beyond ourselves to acknowledge and appreciate the natural wonder that surrounds us, all helps to lower our stress responses – being grateful for the sunshine on our backs or spring rain on a freshly planted garden, all open our eyes to the wonder of our natural environment. Look up to see if the moon has risen early!
Of course the elephant in the room is why you are so overwhelmed with activity in the first place. Do you have difficulty in saying “no”? Do you have difficulty delegating tasks that others could easily do – and which don’t really need your oversight (even though they might be completed differently)? Recognise that sometimes, good enough is just that – it’s good enough – time to let go and move on. Also be aware of the myth of multi-tasking – all it does is diffuse your focus across many activities with the result that none are completed as well as they would be if focussed on individually. Also look to break down large tasks into manageable chunks - and complete these as discrete activities.
Actively schedule down-time in your diary – your wellness is just as important as that appointment with a client, your dentist or the school run. Defend that time and take that 20 minutes or so just to fully relax and perhaps practice an extended pause. To be your best you need to practice self-care – and this begins with reducing stress and learning how to calm your mind, and how to create a growing sensation of more peace in your life.
If you want some help to create more space in your life, give me a call!