The modern day life is full of stressful situations. It’s just how we operate. A student has exam pressure while an average family man is troubled by the financial burdens; a fresh graduate is stressed to find a proper job while an employee is stressed about his performance and payment and the list goes on. If I continue writing the examples, it would take more than the half of this column. The point is, we all are stressed, so much that we don't want to relax and 'waste' our time just to get rid of our anxieties. And in turn, we get even more stressed. Most of the times, we tend to be either perfectionists or workaholics and sometimes, we try to outsmart ourselves. We often forget that the world is by no means perfect and we all are a part of it. The intention here is not to encourage laziness and pessimism however, we should refrain from stretching ourselves beyond a point that may cause restlessness in our life and eventually reduce our potential to deliver the best of our capabilities.
The soul has an absolute, unforgiving need for regular excursions into enchantment. It requires them like the body needs food and the mind needs thought.
--Thomas Moore, 1996
Lets take a deep breath and think - how often do we have time solely for ourselves? Time for ourselves - whether to sit quietly with a cup of coffee, watch a favorite video or go for a long drive - isn't a luxury. It's a necessity. Researches indicate that when people do the things they really love, they feel happier, more satisfied, more fulfilled, and are more able to deal with the problems like overload, stress and anxiety. However, the main hurdle is the fact that we either don't believe in its importance or we feel guilty while allocating time exclusively to ourselves. We want to excel in our life as the best spouse, parent, child, employee, friend and every role that we play. But is it really possible? What I believe in is that if we can't be true to ourselves and do what we really like, we can't do justice to our ambition and aspirations.
We all have a daily routine. Everyday we go to work or school, come home with a tired brain but again ready to do yet another round of things that are required from us as a family man. The days goes by - days turns in to years - and we begin to feel bored by these routine activities. We need some moments to be alone, to feel like we give all to ourselves. Although it's difficult to keep spare time in this 'era of speed', still if we can manage our actions properly we see there is some time left only for doing 'nothing' or doing something we really love to. There can be many ways to put 'our time' back into our schedule. Columnists Elizabeth Bakken et. al elaborate some useful tips in the booklet 'How to make time for yourself'. Let me share the summary with you:
- Prepare a list of what makes you feel good. The list may include activities like gardening, driving a car, jogging, going for a movie or fun-park etc. Or you might wish to spend time alone and doing absolutely 'nothing'. Then try to fit these activities into your daily schedule gradually.
- Remember that taking time for yourself is important as it's necessary to feel good so that you can prepare yourself to tackle the rest of your daily life problems.
- Schedule time for yourself right into your routine just as you would do for any other appointment and make a conscious effort to not schedule anything at least during one night per week preferably during the weekend. If you are in the habit of staying late at work, choose one or two days of the week and commit to leaving at a certain time.
- Remember the importance of doing 'nothing'. Even a small period of unstructured time can help you feel better for the rest of the day.
- While it's great to spend time together with your spouse or partner, at times, talk with your partner about how you can both find time for yourselves.
- Review your social commitments and see what you can eliminate. You may think of resigning from a community or a group which you don't find fulfilling anymore or ignore an invitation that you are not excited about.
- Grab a moment whenever possible. It's not always possible to have a planned spare time so try to make some time free from your routine. If you have a habit of waking up late, try to wake up 15 minutes earlier and spend it sitting quietly with a cup of coffee.
- Consider taking a 'personal day' for yourself to break the cycle of overload and try to spend the day taking care of 'yourself'.
- Try to focus your weekends to relax so that you will feel recharged for the coming week.
- Tell yourself that few things can wait and there is always a tomorrow, but today you are going to do something that you really like.