Don’t just find the time – TAKE IT!

Posted: October 28, 2010 in Lifestyle
Tags: , , , ,

By Claricia Coeries

Handling our demanding jobs, taking care of families, paying the bills… These can all prove to be an exhausting amount of responsibilities to stay on track with. We are always running from the one commitment to the other and often lose track of the things we actually enjoy doing. 

Life’s business gets in the way of spending time with friends, doing jigsaw puzzles, walking through a park, swimming, or reading – the things that help us relax and bring us a sense of comfort and enjoyment. Taking time to slow down and enjoy the small pleasures of life brings meaning and purpose to a busy life. Before you say: “But I just don’t have the time!”, consider the following suggestions. 

1.         Be Present. How often do you zone out in a meeting or while picking up a quick bite at a café? People pass us by, each on their own mission, each with their own problems and preoccupations. How often are you actually aware of your surroundings? Do you notice the blue sky, the wind in the trees, the overworked waitress who still serves you with a smile, the smell of a good cup of coffee, or your dog’s wagging tail when you get home? Most times we’re in such a hurry to get to the office, pick up the laundry, or get the car serviced, and small beauties go unnoticed. Be present to wherever you are. You’d be delighted to find what you’ve missed out on all this time.

2.         Re-connect with your family. Remember the times when your family would pack up a car on a Saturday morning and spend the entire day at the beach, splashing in the waves and soaking up the sun? Or the times you would round up friends, play a few board games and have a good South African braai? Can you even remember the last time you spoke to the cousin you used to visit every other weekend? Life gets busy and families drift apart. It takes hard work to keep our relationships close and personal. Getting in touch with family could bring back many pleasant memories and keep you grounded with the people you love. They’ll appreciate it.

3.         Appreciate Nature. The salty scent of the ocean, the cheerful chatter of birds welcoming spring, the warmth of the sun on your back, the beauty of the moon’s glow, the lazy sweep of tall trees as they blow in the wind… Breathing in fresh air in the early morning and feeling it spread through your lungs… This is one of the best ways to start out a busy day. Nature holds so much beauty, if we only take a moment to observe and experience it. Take a walk to a nearby park and just sit and listen to the sounds around you and feel how nature can soothe the senses.

4.         Eat slower.  A busy lifestyle almost never leaves enough time to enjoy a good, nutritious meal at leisure. Breakfast and lunch come and go in a few minutes – just enough time to gulp down two slices of toast or a pastry-pie. Food is meant to feed the body, yes, but it is also meant to be enjoyed. Why else do we have tastebuds?!  Savour the juices of a sweet red apple, feel the crunchy bits of your favourite nuts between your teeth, enjoy the aroma of a healthy, cooked meal and take time to taste every bit of what you put into your mouth. Eating slower means less indigestion, and the simple pleasure of enjoying what you eat.

5.         Listen to yourself. When was the last time you took a half hour out of your day to regroup, think, dream and consider? We can get so caught up in going from the one task to the next, keeping ourselves busy, that we lose sight of our goals. Taking time to ask yourself tough questions such as “Am I happy? Do I enjoy what I do? How can I improve my relationship with my partner? What can I improve about my character?” can help you refocus on what is important in life and where you are headed. Listen to your thoughts and musings; take time to get in touch with your inner self. 

6.         Try something new. If you always wear the same colour-scheme, always take the same route to work, always eat at the same restaurant, and always order the same drink, I dare say it’s time to try something new! The saying ‘A change is as good as a holiday’ might be overused and so clichéd, but re-ordering our routine can do wonders. Finding different ways of doing the same things over and over could bring an element of excitement as you embark on the unknown. The same can be said for trying out a new sport or hobby such as squash or photography. Trying new things keeps us mentally active and prevents us from getting ‘stuck in a rut’. Be creative and dare to do things differently! 

7.         Laugh more! There are few things that laughter cannot cure. Laughing releases endorphins throughout the entire body which immediately sets one in an amiable mood. Some people even find that seeing the funny side in every situation helps them cope better with difficult situations and brings relief from anxiety. Lourens Shlebush, author of Mind Shift:  Management and your Health writes: “Laughter and humour… lets people relax and become less inflexible and more receptive to new ideas.” Rent a good comedy film and enjoy a good laugh. Or, better yet, find what’s funny in everyday life and laugh more! It’s like a mini holiday, and will leave you feeling much better.

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