07 October 2009

Stressed life and importance of doing nothing

Life is not a game, with winners or losers, though at times it gives the glance of a long lasting contest. While leading the life, an average person oscillates between different roles most of them juggled at the same time. With growing maturity level, commitments and priorities, one has to keep performing (though, the goals keep changing). Some of our roles may please us while others may give us headaches as we find ourselves outside our comfort zone. Intense competition and consistent desire keep us motivated enough to always strive harder. And as a result, we are often so overloaded that we don't have time for 'ourselves'. It is amazing how often we forget to make time for ourselves and end up losing tranquility in life. Taking time for ourselves often drops to the very bottom of our wish list. We are always in search of time for jobs, families, friends, society and alike but we rarely contemplate on having time for ourselves.

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.
Stress is a funny thing. We don't know when it starts to build up within us. We are always chasing our dreams, always striving hard in life to achieve 'everything'. However, the first thing we are able to achieve is probably stress and anxiety. Situations that can be easily handled on a normal day may become difficult to solve on a stressful day. How we deal with the stressful situations determines our life at the end of the day. Having some free time to do 'nothing' may not solve our problems of stress and anxiety however, it can definitely help in relieving at least a portion of them. After a break, we are better prepared to deal with the stress and anxiety.

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आकार on October 7, 2009 at 12:52 PM said...

wonderful tips....

Anonymous said...

great one! your literary skill has taken a huge jump! Keep the good work going!

Basanta on October 8, 2009 at 6:57 AM said...

Nice one! Very motivating! Schedule of modern life has made man restless and crazy, it's very important to find some time for doing 'nothing'.

Gopal kc said...

Thanks Deependra for worderful tips. We can get rid of restless life

Asha on October 9, 2009 at 1:39 AM said...

I'm so thankful to you for sharing more ideas here with us. if we can able to accomplish those, it will be really advantage for doing nothing, i guess.

Dilip Acharya on October 9, 2009 at 7:50 AM said...

Very interesting article and practical tips!!!

badri on October 9, 2009 at 10:10 AM said...

Deependra Jee thanks for wonderful tips and interesting post

Alok said...

must say it's a very interesting topic. I'll try to accommodate the tips in my regular schedule. I agree with you that having some free time to do 'nothing' may not solve our problems of stress and anxiety but, it can help in relieving a portion of them. thanks for a sharing a good article. cheers!

Prajwol on October 13, 2009 at 5:20 PM said...

sometimes it's a good idea to do absolutely nothing, I normally want one of those days in the weekend, but it's not always possible :(
ability to say "No" helps a lot too, not all people can do it, but those who can are spared from unnecessary social commitments.
just my few cents :D

shail on October 14, 2009 at 9:55 AM said...

Importance of doing nothing is something I learnt of while studying an article by J B Priestly in school. :) If I remember right, the lesson was titled 'On doing nothing' I have always believed in the importance of this act of doing nothing. I am amazed at how some people can never stop to do nothing even for a second. :) As for me, I would like nothing better than to lay beneath the tree and look at the sky through its leaves as long as I wish just like Priestly advises!! :)
Thanks for dropping by at my place. I tried to send you a message the last time. It didn't work.

Chaitanya on October 15, 2009 at 7:49 PM said...

This article is very informative and useful for us. I do sleep earlier than usual or go bicycling or talk with my some people unrelated to my daily job (friends or family members)over the phone to reduce my stress. One of the interesting causes of my stress is that I get no chance to talk to anybody for a long time(as long as a day). Having nothing to do also causes stress sometimes. When I am thinking of doing something but can't do so for long makes me stressful. I believe Dipendraji understands such phenomena since his writings always take up some serious concerns.

Anonymous said...

I am indeed very pleased to read that most of you liked the post and acknowledge the importance of 'doing nothing' in our stressed lives. I'm thankful to all who read the post and particularly who shared their views on this issue.

I'm pleased to hear from Shreeram ji and Gopal for the first time at this blog. Thanks guys! I hope we'll continue to share opinions on various topics in future as well.

Thank you Shail for stopping by and leaving your comment. good to note your opinion on the issue. ...lay beneath the tree and look at the sky through its leaves.. sounds interesting! hope to hear from you again.

Chaitanya ji, I know what you mean by, 'Having nothing to do also causes stress sometimes. When I am thinking of doing something but can't do so for long makes me stressful'. we all go through this phase but, the focus of this article is mainly to relieve stress when we are bombarded with extremely busy schedule and there's hardly anytime to relax.

Once again, thank you all for leaving your comments.

Anonymous said...

The opposite with me because doing nothing makes me feel unrelaxed. It is the time when I remember many things that make me sad. Especially now that I am waiting for the job I am applying for and hoping to get it as it is what I wanted to do. I'm afraid if this scenario would take long I might gone to depression. Doing nothing is not my forte being such a workaholic person. This misfortune strucked to me because I'm always searching what I wanted to do. At long last, I found what I want to do in my life and this is if I land this job I'm waiting for.

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