One of the biggest things I’ve learned in my life is that time is a luxury. That not only is a quiet morning left alone with my coffee and a book valuable and precious, but so is a schedule that isn’t overstuffed with busyness. I have learned to value an open schedule and plenty of time to spend the way I want to spend it. And always, to be able to take my time with things.
Stop Rushing Around
So let’s talk a bit about some of these things and how they contradict how most people behave in our world today. Why do people rush, push, panic, cram things in, get anxious and feel overwhelmed? Because we live in a society that tells you that this is normal and how you have to live your life. That ‘busy’ is the way to be. I’m going to tell you they are wrong.
While there are busy times for all of us, and times that feel a little out of control that way, we can all make space and time in our lives. It might be as simple as leaving for any appointment 15 minutes earlier than you normally would so you can drive at a slower pace and not feel rushed. There is great beauty in just enjoying the drive, playing some nice music in the car, or even basking in the silence and calm. For others, who have trouble finding extra time, it might be taking your time in the rest room. Having a few extra minutes to just ‘sit’ and relax and think even. We take it where we can get it sometimes!
Clear Your Schedule
What we need to stop doing is overpacking our schedules, rushing to and fro, and never stopping to take a breath. Sometimes I laugh at people who do this and proclaim to be ‘healthy’ because half of what they are cramming in is crazy workouts and such. I believe that a significant part of being healthy (mentally too) is giving yourself some calm and quiet.
I used to be one of those people that had to fill my schedule. Often I felt like I was a complete loser if I didn’t have lots of plans with friends, activities and exercise, especially on the weekends. An empty calendar brought out all my insecurities, and I would start to reach out to people to find something to do. And yes, I do think some people enjoy being social, but check in with yourself to see that it’s something you truly enjoy and not just an insecure reaction to being alone or not having plans. Make sure it’s not a case of FOMO as well!
Change Your Habits
How have I changed my ways? Well, it’s happened over time for sure, but now I hate having a ‘schedule’. While I know I need to for work, but I also block out periods of time for myself even at work. I don’t think the ‘go go go’ mentality is healthy for anyone. I need breaks, quiet, and time for myself. Time to re-energize myself in whatever way I need to. Some workdays that means going through my emails to get caught up and feel less behind, while other days I may need to get up from my chair and go for a walk to really let go of stress (or even meditate or do a bit of yoga).
What I treasure now is a weekend with nothing on the calendar. Heck even weekdays with little on the calendar. While I do love the occasional time with friends, or self-care appointment, I love when I don’t have to schedule anything. When I can do what I want when I want. Take the dogs for a long, relaxed walk. Have some coffee and dive into that book I’ve been wanting to read, and getting to read for as long as I want. Even taking the time to wander around a store (like Target) by myself and just exploring is even fun to me if I feel like getting out on a bad-weather day. And of course, my passion is writing, so having time to write is always a joy to me.
Finding Security in ‘Me Time’
Do I ever feel like I’m being unsocial? Yes, I do sometimes. But I certainly don’t feel as insecure about it as I used to. I bask in my time alone now. I absolutely love it. It fills me up in ways I can’t even describe. If I didn’t have this time, this slower pace and calm in my life, I’m not sure I could handle some of the chaos in the world at all. It’s about taking gentle loving care of ourselves and filling ourselves up so that we can handle the uncertainties of the world outside. It’s not about hiding from the world – it’s about prioritizing self-care. And while I call that a “luxury” in this article, I think time is a luxury we all need to give ourselves. More-so than expensive toys, excessive ‘pampering’, or other perceived luxuries. I think it’s the ultimate luxury that can make the biggest difference in your life and your (mental and physical) health.
So where do you even begin to carve out more time for yourself? If you are someone that needs some structure, I would say to plan blocks of it on your schedule wherever you can. And don’t fill that time with tasks, but instead, fill it with things you love to do. That might be painting, reading, biking, playing with your dog, or sitting on your patio and listening to the birds. Something that is relaxing, uplifting, and soul-filling in some way for you.
Start by Limiting the To-Do List
I started off just trying not to schedule too much in one day. So for example, rather than cramming in a doctor’s appointment, a vet appointment for the dog, and an oil change all in one day – I’ve learned to spread those out to different days at times that are convenient for me. That way I have most of the day to do other things or things I want, and only a small part of the day is locked into a ‘must-do’ item. And I don’t have to rush around all day. I can’t stand days that are a long ‘to-do’ list with no ‘me time’ at all. It depletes and overwhelms me.
For those of you who fill your days and weekends with long to-do lists, try this. Also create a list of items that you’d love to do that would fill your soul. Just some ideas of things, not all to be done in one day. A hike, a bike ride, reading a book, listening to music – whatever, even if you don’t feel you’ll have time. Now look at your to-do list again. What could wait? What could even be eliminated from it? I’ve found that when I really scrutinize my list, usually a good portion of it can be crossed off, or can wait. Now don’t go and add your fun stuff to the to-do list, just get your items done, and when you have that delicious few hours of extra time, decide then what would feel good. Which item you really want to do in that moment. I don’t believe it should ever be on a to-do list though. It’s fun, relaxing, fulfilling – and not something you need to check off when it’s complete.
Make Time for YOU
So I hope this inspires you to block more time for yourself. To put down that long to-do list sometimes. Maybe even to give yourself an extra 15 minutes to get places so you can relax and not rush. It’s wonderful and will allow you to really enjoy life, in every moment. You should never rush through life in a hurry – frustrated, overwhelmed, and depleted. Carve out some time. Take your time. Go easier on yourself. Fill yourself up with that sweet luxury of time.
A book you may like is The Surrender Experiment by Michael Singer
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