Stress may actually be the one thing we can all relate to these days. Feminist.com's Marianne Schnall's been thinking about that lately.
51% Show # 1140
When I speak to people these days, I am struck by how overwhelmed and busy we are all feeling. It seems as though our responsibilities keep mounting, as do the constant inputs that can now reach us 24 hours a day, through emails, the Internet, our cell phones, Facebook messages and more. The combination of a sense of too much to do combined with too much coming at us can leave us feeling stressed and drained. I should know: with a new book out, two kids and all my work from my freelance writing career and running two web sites, my to-do list and email in-box seem endless. Creating balance in our lives can feel just like "another thing to do." Yet it is during busy times like these that it is most important to prioritize breaks for ourselves, to remember to "be" rather than to "do" all the time, to actually be present in our lives, to pay attention to and nurture our inner worlds with just as much attention as we do our outer worlds, and carve out some quality, self-nourishing time for silence and stillness. There are many benefits to doing this, not just for our mental and physical health and well-being but for our own effectiveness in all aspects of our work and lives.
There are so many inputs coming at us at all hours of the day, and it is easy to be over-stimulated and live life on auto-pilot, operating on knee-jerk reactions, just to get things done. Yet, oftentimes it can be better in the long run to take a few centered breaths, or even wait overnight before responding to an important email that requires thoughtful consideration or reflection. Or, if you are having a problem that you just can't figure out no matter how much you dwell on it, take a break and try meditating, taking a shower or a walk in nature, and maybe the answer will come to you. It is in those moments of non-doing, non-thinking that we can often hear those important whisperings from deep within us. Creative ideas, our intuition, inner guidance and inspiration can come to us during those quiet times. No one else can do this for us; creating balance is something we ourselves need to prioritize and make time for ourselves.
It is especially important to also convey to our children the value of quiet time and the importance of "unplugging" occasionally. Believe me, as a BlackBerry addict who never goes anywhere without it, and everyone around me lives with the constant buzz, I know how hard this can be. Yet our children are becoming just as addicted as we are to their gadgets, preferring to spend hours on the Internet, on their computer games or watching television rather than in the outdoors, chatting on Facebook or sending out thousands of texts to their friends rather than seeing them in person. There are alarming studies about how all this time children spend on their computers and computer games are impacting the development of their brain and their social skills. So moms and dads should try hard to occasionally, purposefully -- if they can find it within themselves to do it -- set an example and get off Facebook and turn off their own BlackBerrys and iPhones and give their children the gift of focused time, where they are truly present, not just to model these behaviors but because we are sacrificing precious moments with our loved ones that we will never get back. No email message or Facebook chat will ever be able to live up to a meaningful conversation, a smile, a touch, a hug or a shared activity with those we love.
The world spins so fast these days, with a hurricane of news coming at us all the time creating a sensory overload, and we all have so many concerns that we have to tend to and worry about in our own lives and so many serious problems in the world that we face. And it is in times of great stress when we are in survival mode, when it is most important to stop and take a few deep breaths every once and a while, pay attention to how we are feeling, be thankful for what we have, and to enjoy life, so we can recharge ourselves and be better able to face the challenges of our lives with strength, clarity and grace. We need to pause and reflect on what is truly meaningful and ponder the mystery and magic of our lives. We need to keep in mind that technology has many benefits, but the latest technology also holds many dangerous temptations to turn us into our machines, to farther disconnect us from our natural environment and each other. Taking care of ourselves and being present for our own lives and nurturing our inner life within is one of the most important gifts we can give to ourselves, the world and those we love.
This commentary originally aired on 51% Show # 1140
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