When did you stop living?
We all live busy, frantic lives, whether we work full-time, part-time, have kids, there always seems to be too much to do. How did we get like this? Was it always like this?
At work, there seems to be pressure to work to targets, want more out of us, and if we reach those targets, there are more deadlines ahead and that equals stress. Many of us take that home with us and find it difficult to switch off. Some employers think they are being helpful by giving us ‘smartphones’ and ‘laptops’ to take home, but that carries an expectation to check emails and take calls after hours. How many of us do that, instead of enjoying ‘family time’?
Even those of us who don’t do that, but have kids, how may of them have ‘after school activities’ most days of the week, which sees us parents constantly running around from one venue to the next?
Who has a family who all eats the same meal at meal time, or do you find yourself cooking several different meals?
Picture the following scenario
It was 11.30pm at night and Julie was settling down in bed, half way through a relaxing meditation. She had had a stressful day, because work had been frantic and she had a demanding Line Manager, who didn’t know how to switch off, so today was one of those days where the meditation came in very handy.
She also had to run her son to rugby training and her daughter to Brownies on the other side of town. Both wanted different meals at tea time, because they are very fussy eaters, so Julie was running late and shouted at her husband when he got home, because he didn’t offer to help.
During the meditation, Julie was interrupted by a buzz on her phone and even though she didn’t check the message, her mind started to wander, because she knew it would be from her Line Manager, Linda, asking her if she had finished a piece of work that she was working on.
Linda never rested and saw no reason why anyone else should do so either. Julie was at her wits’ end with Linda, because she was someone who genuinely couldn’t see a distinction between her job and the rest of her life. She worked 12 hour days, if not longer and routinely bombarded people with texts and emails late at night. Some people had a life, but Linda had a ‘smartphone’.
To her colleagues Linda seemed bad tempered, aggressive and impulsive, but she was also becoming inefficient, forgetful and chaotic. Her second husband had recently left her, and her 17 year old daughter was a ‘disappointment’, because of her devotion to towards art and drama, rather than economics and business studies. This genuinely stunned Linda and she would voice her concerns to everyone that would listen.
It was easy to blame Vicky, but she was of course, also a victim, unable to step outside of a punishing work schedule and a disintegrating private life.
Julie had started to discover mindfulness and was learning to relax. She had taken the first step by doing a meditation, but had let her mind wander when the buzz of her phone went off. This is fine, because the mind will wander, but it’s bringing the mind back to focus on the meditation that’s the important thing, and with small amounts of daily practice, this will get easier and help to eliminate the stress.
Can you relate to Julie?
Julie started to do mindfulness, because she was so busy looking after everyone else that she had no time for herself.
When you’re so busy all of the time, you start dedicating all of the time you have to the things that zap all the energy out of you and the things that make you happy, give you that zest for life take a back seat, such as hobbies, socialising, sex life, even just having a bath. If you’re not careful you can experience burnout and become depressed.
How can we change this?
Every 3 days either in a journal, diary, or ‘remind yourself to be kind to yourself book’, do something to reward yourself. You must stick to this religiously and not feel guilty about it. The reward doesn’t have to be huge and can be as simple as eating your favourite chocolate bar, but writing out a shortlist of 5 and being mindful when you’re eating it. Savour it, taste it, chew it, all before you swallow it. Go for walk and watch the sunset, maybe take a few photos. Or, have a relaxing bath, and enjoy the experience, light some candles, listen to some relaxing music, pour in some essential oils.
If your children are old enough, there is no reason why they can’t start helping you around the house in order to start earning some pocket money. They may not like it, but if they know there may be a few pounds in it for them at the end of the week, they may be more inclined to do it. If we do it all for them, they’ll leave home thinking it’s ok to expect everything to be done for us. This can also include helping with the cooking, from laying the table, preparing the dinner and cleaning up. All these little things, free up more time for you to have time for yourself.
You deserve it. Your mental health is as important as your physical health