How often do you feel the weight of life bearing down on your shoulders?
It’s commonplace in our highly connected and fast paced daily lives to be sleep deprived, stressed out, and counting down the months until your annual holiday. While this may be common, it doesn’t make this way of living any more palatable! According to Alison Haynes, Author of ‘Time, Money, Happiness’ we actually have more time than ever before. You might scoff at this idea but when you think about the way that we have ‘convenienced’ our food, fashion, and networking to be fast, and outsourced everything from child minding, to cleaning and pet care, we do seemingly have more time on our hands. Some of us have made even more time by reducing the number of hours we sleep. Something that Arianna Huffington, the author of ‘Thrive’ has noted to have become the competitive sport of the 21st century. Sleep Macho is the term coined to describe those who take pride in how little sleep they require (we all know at least one person who is loud and proud of their less than 8 hours a night). While we have more time as a result of our lack of sleep, processed and packaged foods, and the fact our children are in the care of someone else, our lives aren’t necessarily the better for it. We have outsourced fun and good health to make way for more career, recreation, study, or paid employment.
Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink.
You would think that with all this excess time on our hands we would be able to spend more time doing what we love, or seeing those we love. However the freeing up of time from menial duties like food growth and preparation and scrubbing laundry by hand has seen many of us commit these extra hours to other ventures. In Australia the statistics have shown that the working week has decreased from 35 hours per week in the 1980’s to 33 hours by the 2000’s. Despite this good news one must take into account the fact we have become an increasingly connected society over this period. Many of us are guilty of checking devices for work news updates during non-paid work hours. If fact for some of us our paid career work (or study endeavours) has become a 24/7 gig and our once separate work/home lives are now merging into our pockets, dining room tables, and play time via smartphones, tablets, and personal computers. There is a loose (but believable) stat getting around that we Australians check our smartphone around 150 times a day. While we may not officially be at work as often as we were in the past, those 150 glances at a device that may have work related content coming through it doesn’t really allow us to fully embrace our extra free time without a little stress. Also there are two extra letters for you to solve this missing time equation. T.V. The average Australian spends one month per year looking at a television screen. Add that to the 150 glances at a smartphone and there is little wonder we feel like we have no time for anything else other than sleeping and eating!
All work and no play….
Who has seen The Shining? No one? Everyone? If you haven’t seen this horror movie history books number it’s worth checking out. No… it’s not a piece of sustainability based motion picture magic, but it is a damn fine way to see the extreme outcomes of overworking in a way that only horror writer Stephen King and movie producer Stanley Kubrick can depict. Sure… most of us won’t go on a crazed rampage and turn (literally) murderous on our nearest and dearest when we feel overworked, like the poor overworked Jack (if you do feel a bit violent when your overworked be brave and ask for help), but most of us turn emotionally on ourselves and others when we are run down and tired. If we perceive that we are busy or ‘time-poor’ or being robbed of our free time by screens that blink work and general inadequacy (thank you T.V. commercials and social media life comparisons) at us, there is not wonder that many of us end up stressed out and barking at our loved ones. Never fear! There are ways that you can start to take advantage of your spare time. Let’s look at a few basics.
Always remember rule number 6
In Dr. Wayne Dyers book ‘The Power of Intention’ he tells the story of the ‘Rule Number Six’ from a book titled ‘The Art of Possibility‘. Rule number six can be enforced any time that things start getting heated, stressful, or downright un-fun. The only thing you have to remember for rule number six is:
Stop taking yourself so goddamn seriously!
Like the man on the receiving end of this comment in the original story of the rule number six you might be wondering what rules one to five are? There aren’t any! So when you start getting in a huff about delayed shipments, kids who won’t get ready for school on time, or the fact that the dress you wanted to wear out tonight has a stain on it, remind yourself of rule number six and suddenly things won’t seem so stressful. The majority of things in your life will unfold naturally and while you have a little influence over some of it, your job is to go with the flow, not to stress over the bits that don’t go to plan.
Hug your inner child.
Remember back to when you were a small fry. Did you worry over traffic jams or delight in being able to wave at people in the car next to you? It was the latter wan’t it? Go on… own up you enjoy waving at strangers. The older we get and the more seriously we take ourselves the sooner we see fun slip from our lives and stress take it’s place. We no longer wave at people in the car next to us because we think we know better, and worry they might be as stressed as we are and our wave might push them into a fit of road rage. Or perhaps our little bit of fun might be taken as an insult. Sadly a kind wave isn’t commonplace among most adults on crowded motorways but there are ways to find fun in your daily life without getting beaten up. Think back to your favourite hobby as a child and start to work that into your life. As someone who grew up surrounded by nature getting outdoors and exploring is my favourite way to reconnect. I like to hike on my own from time to time and stop to look at anything that grabs my attention (these pictures are a result of a weekend adventure hike). If you need inspiration for ways to play here is a list from the wonderful SARK (check out her book SARK’S New Creative Companion for more inspiration):
- Forget what you look like in public
- Wear comfy clothes and shoes that can kick a ball
- Keep toys nearby and books that light you up
- Watch movies that make your stomach ache with laughter
- Spend time with friends who know how to play
- Keep forgetting to get ‘serious stuff’ done
- Lie down on the sidewalk in the sun with a friend who giggles
- Hire a marching band
- Walk sideways while singing reggae music loudly
- Keep sidewalk chalk in your car or backpack
- Talk to strangers and ask ‘what kind of games do you like to play’
- Be willing to be thought of as ‘silly’ or ‘odd’
- Babysit and be reminded how to play.
- Make playdates with your adult friends and invent new playful activities together
When you were little did you ever say ‘Mum can you please tell the neighbour next door I can’t go check out that new park down the road with him because I really have to clean up my toy box and check out the latest stats about childhood playground accidents’? Probably not. You would have likely dropped everything you had in your little hands and ran out the door to spend time exploring with your friends. There is something quite humbling and magical about getting outside in your local area and going on an adventure. Too often we dedicate our working hours to ‘saving up’ to head somewhere else for a holiday break. Why not try taking some time off in your local area. Not only do you know not have to work so hard to earn your relaxation, you can also support your local economy (check out this post and this post on why your dollar matters) and save on all the nasty carbon emissions cause by air travel (find out more here and more on green travel here). Ever though that you might not be so good at mediation? You can combine your love of exploration in your local neighbourhood with a moving meditative practice. Check out this post I covered on the art of walking mindfully.
Celebrate your creativity.
Remember back to a time when you were proud of your creative efforts. Whether it was a painting you did in class or a necklace made from macaroni. You created with love and enthusiasm, from a place with no judgement. As we grow and learn we are taught (I blame the education system) that there is a right an wrong way to express our creativity. Suddenly things that we would have proudly shared in the past are tucked away and kept secret. Or worse still we stop creating all together! Unleash your creativity by expressing yourself in a way that feel good to your creative self and do it without judgement.
Julia Cameron, author of “The Artists Way”(a book highly recommended by Sustainability in Style) wants you to let go of the creative block excuses and:
- Stop telling yourself, ‘It’s too late’
- Stop waiting until you make enough money to do something you’d really love.
- Stop telling yourself, “it’s just my ego” whenever you yearn for a more creative life.
- Stop telling yourself that dreams don’t matter, that they are only dreams and that you could be more sensible.
- Stop fearing that your family and friends would think that you are crazy
- Stop telling yourself that creativity is a luxury and that you should be grateful for what you’ve got.
The moral of this post? Have fun! Life is meant to be an adventure. Stress is a construct of time If we start to love and appreciate the time we have rather than stress about the time we don’t have then life can be one big stress free adventure. Being happy and living a more sustainable lifestyle are two concepts that go hand in hand. The happier people are with what they have and where they are in life the less they want more. The big issues affecting the planet today come from a place of wanting more. More people, more stuff, more food, more money. Taking time to make yourself happy with what you have is such a selfless and easy way to start being a more environmentally aware person. The best part is that it doesn’t have to cost a cent!
Do you have a favourite way to soothe your soul? Perhaps there is a book that has sprung to mind that you would like to share. Please let us know below lovely soul-shiners!