You’re busy, you need to book a holiday and work out how social media works, and you just had to Google ‘how to clean makeup brushes’. But with more people working over 48 hours a week than ever, Britain’s long-hours culture isn’t leaving us time to think – let alone figure out how to clean makeup brushes. So why is being busy so often considered almost a badge of honour? In his book CrazyBusy: Overstretched, Overbooked, and About to Snap!, Dr. Edward Hallowell describes our exhausting schedules as “a severe case of modern life.” Sounds like it’s time to take a step back and learn how to slow down and start taking control of our lives:
Focus your attention
One of the fundamental issues with modern life is the opportunity for distraction. We bounce between our laptops, tablets, mobile phones and work computers, constantly checking our emails, social media and news channels. But multi-tasking is overrated. No matter how organised you are, focusing on one task at a time is far more likely to produce results and will prevent you from spreading yourself too thinly. So turn off those notifications and train yourself to pay attention to one goal a time. Not only will you begin to actually finish the jobs you’ve started, you’ll stop viewing everything you have to do as an impossible workload, and start reframing your mind to look at the situation from a new perspective.
Don’t be afraid to say ‘No’
Being a ‘yes person’ isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. While it’s great that you’re motivated and enthusiastic, being a people-pleaser is a dangerous path – and can often lead to you pleasing anyone and everyone but yourself. Many of us have more than one circle of friends but understanding and setting yourself limits – both socially and professionally – is important. Learn to choose and prioritise between friends and family, being careful to not over-commit and not being afraid to just say ‘no, thank you’.
Make time for you
Saying ‘no’ is the first step to putting yourself first – and making time to do the things you need to do, not the things you think you ought to be doing. So whether it’s taking up an exercise class (a great stress-reliever in itself), getting your hair done or finally cleaning those makeup brushes, carving out time just for you is important and shouldn’t be considered a guilty pleasure or waste of time. Even your daily commute can be utilised as an opportunity for catching up on the things you enjoy – be it reading a magazine, listening to music or calling a friend.
It’s surprising how difficult many of us find ‘doing nothing’ and how little attention we pay to our breathing – particularly when many of our physical tensions could be relieved by simply getting more oxygen into our bodies. Mindfulness is a free and easy way to calm down our ‘brain chatter’ and achieve clarity of thought, with many companies and even schools now recommending ancient Buddhist meditation to stressed-out workers and students. Training the body to be present in ‘the now’ will not only help you to focus on one thing a time, but is proven to reduce anxiety and risk of depression.