I’m in a season of life where I’m craving slow days, and time and space to savor what’s going on. Crowding my schedule doesn’t add more to my life these days than stress. But the pull of the culture of being busy is strong. In America in particular, if you’re not busy, what are you? We pride ourselves on being productive, on working hard. Not so much on relaxing, or taking a break.
In a world where we’re constantly being told we need to buy more, do more, be more, produce more, work more – how do we resist that? How do we swim upstream against the flow? Here are 6 tips that have helped me in rejecting the busy culture of our day:
- Stop answering “How are you?” with “I’m good, I’ve been so busy.” This has become such a standard answer to one of the most common questions we hear. It’s become our default answer. We’re defaulting to being busy. And then we’re equating it with being good. Is that accurate? Is that what we want? To have being busy be the ideal? Not, say, being content, or finding satisfaction, or enjoying yourself, or doing good? But being busy? Answering “how are you” with a different answer can really reframe how we see our time, rather than just going along with being busy simply because everyone else is.
- Do one thing at a time. Multitasking is the great lie of our times, wouldn’t you say? If I’m trying to do two things at once, inevitably both of them turn out worse than if I’d taken them each in turn. What’s more is I feel busier–and more stressed out–when constantly multitasking. If I’m posting to Instagram or trying to read another article on my phone while playing trains with Sander, I’m not really doing either of those with my full brain. And it tricks me into thinking I don’t have enough time for both of those things–that I’m so busy I have to do things on top of each other. But that’s not true. Being fully present to one thing at a time really stretches out my day and I find myself feeling more relaxed.
- Build some relaxation time into your day. If I don’t get a chance to turn off my mind for a while I start feeling frazzled. I desperately need some time each day to myself to recharge. For me, that means reading. I make sure to spend a few minutes reading each day, whether it’s while Sander is playing on his own, or for a little bit before bed. The thing is, no one is going to build time to relax into your day for you. You’ve gotta do it yourself and guard it carefully.
- Get a hobby. Hobbies are a beautiful thing because they’re just that. Hobbies. Something to entertain you and enrich your life. They’re not something you have to excel at, or succeed at, or compete at. It’s just a structured way to fill the unstructured hours (or maybe just minutes!) in your day. They’re a perfect antidote to the hustle of working, creating, producing. A perfect way to slow down and just be.
- Stick some chill music into the frazzled parts of your day. For Christmas, Terry’s Aunt Stacey got us a CD with lullabies from around the world, and it’s just been the greatest thing. We stick it on when Sander starts to have a meltdown, or while we’re eating breakfast, or when I’m making dinner. Music can be such a force for slowing down, relaxing, and de-stressing.
- Get outside. There’s just something about being outside that reminds me that there are things so much bigger than me. That my little problems are not the end of the world. That there are rhythms besides my own going on. It makes me want to linger. Slow down. Savor.
What are your thoughts on our culture’s obsession with busyness? Do you ever crave a slower pace, and do you have any good tips to lean towards that? I’ve been writing this post while watching National Treasure, so clearly I’ve still got some work to do on this one. ? I’m guessing I’m not alone, eh?