How often do you respond to the question “how are you?” with one of two words: busy or tired? “Seventy-five percent of the time,” says Shannon Hurst Lane, 38, from Zachary, LA. “I feel like I’m in a permanent state of not-enough-time-in-a-day.”
Lane, a mother of two teenagers who does shift work at the local fire department and also runs a travel blog is pretty typical of today’s modern woman. Our world is filled with more shortcuts than ever, yet our days feel increasingly overscheduled and draining.
Art Markman, Ph.D., a YouBeauty Psychology Advisor, says this is because there’s very little opportunity for anybody to recharge. “We’re never alone or disconnected,” says Markman. “If you read novels from the 19th century, you can’t help but notice that people take walks, they sit in the parlor to read, and they engage in lots of refreshing activities. But we don’t do that anymore.”
Laura Vanderkam, author of “168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think,” seconds that thought. “We don’t do enough rejuvenating things—exercising, getting outside, indulging in a hobby," says Vanderkam. "We’re ‘too busy,’ but when we don’t do these things we just end up feeling sluggish. So busy and tired end up meaning similar things.”
“We’re constantly on the go and doing more with less in this current economy,” says Markman. “The workday holds a tremendous amount of pressure to get things done and then we go home and continue to engage in more work-like activity.” Going from a computer at work to a different screen at home (TV, smartphone, tablet) means that we’re engaging in the same set of behaviors over and over. Sounds exhausting, right? It is.
A big reason why it’s so hard to unplug is because technology is all-consuming. “Our inboxes are like little slot machines,” says Vanderkam. “There’s always something new waiting and it’s hard not to be addicted to that rush.”
“Imagine telling someone, ‘oh, I slept until 10a.m. and had a nice leisurely lunch,’” says Markman. "That’s not ok unless we’re on vacation. We value people who are busy." In a way, we’ve become conditioned to believe that “busy” is synonymous with “important.”
So how do we get off of this busy/tired treadmill and find rejuvenation and real joy in our days? “Be stronger than the machine,” says yoga instructor David Romanelli. He’s on a mission to help people be aware of poignant and sacred moments daily. “If someone were to tell you, ‘you’ll never remember this day for the rest of your life,’ wouldn’t that be sad?” he asks. “Find a moment to savor and cherish each day.”
Romanelli’s strategy is to take a moment to bask in something beautiful, funny or delicious every day (“BFD moments,” he calls them). Watch a sunset; listen to a street musician; savor a piece of chocolate; laugh at yourself.
Lane admits she takes a break from Facebook and Twitter sometimes. “It’s the only way I get a breather from the craziness,” she says. “Between that, and lots of bubble baths and wine in the evenings, I manage to stay sane.”
In our 24/7 world, recharging is more essential than ever. Take the time to unplug, unhinge and unwind regularly. Just remember, says Vanderkam, “truly important people do whatever they want because they know other people will wait!”
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