How to reduce stress by taking time outOur stress level has been increasing at an alarming pace. The  rate of change has taken on a very hectic pace. At every turn and every waking moment we are bombarded with many things trying to get our attention. From the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we sleep our senses are hit with so much information that we struggle to keep up with. 

              The struggle for a balance

A friend of mine once told me how he felt so exhausted from working on the computer all day in the office.  He couldn’t wait to get home. Then he got into his  car and the radio was on. He turned that off. He just needed some peace and quiet so he could hear himself think. So he got home and thought “great, now I can relax.” But his young son just can’t stand the television being off. Not that he actually watches though, he just wants it on. Again he was bombarded with entertainment and the never ending advertisements every fifteen minutes. Every now and then the phone would ring or a text message would buzz. He remembered thinking how hard it is to just have some quiet time and not have anything to stare at, listen to, or answer.

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          Having a quiete time 

Steven Halpern wrote that “When Mozart was composing at the end of the eighteenth century; the city of Vienna was so quiet that fire alarms could be given verbally, by a shouting watchman mounted on top of St. Stefan’s Cathedral. In twentieth-century society, the noise level is such that it keeps knocking our bodies out of tune and out of their natural rhythms. This ever-increasing assault of sound upon our ears, minds, and bodies adds to the stress load of civilized beings trying to live in a highly complex environment.”

      Who really needs your attention

The complexity of this environment means that it’s all the more important to give attention to something you probably rarely think about. All those gadgets demand your attention, your family demands your attention, your workmates and boss demand your attention and your dreams demand your attention. In the midst of all this there is someone who needs your attention the most. But this someone is the one who demands it the least. Sometimes that person does not even know they need that attention. That person is YOU .  In this fast-paced life it is all too easy to forget to take time out to be by yourself. But such time is important in order to avoid things like stress, fatigue and burnout. Quality time by yourself is important for emotional well-being and balance in life. Elbert Hubbard puts it more jokingly that “The man who doesn’t relax and hoot a few hoots voluntarily, now and then, is in great danger of hooting hoots and standing on his head for the edification of the pathologist and trained nurse, a little later on.”

           Benefits of being with Yourself

Taking time out can take a many dimensions. For instance, it can be in the form of just relaxing and appreciating nature. It is necessary to fully appreciate the things in life we often take for granted. Things like the trees and flowers, the feel of the sun on your face, the fact that you are alive and well and the smell of a rainy day. These are things that all add richness and meaning to life. They help you to see that everything man has made in the form of technology and gadgets is nothing compared to what existed from the creation of the world. Appreciating nature in all its wonderful forms and varieties is truly getting in touch with creation and God himself. The person who realises the awesomeness of nature and of God is a person that understands that they are not alone. The power of “Infinite Intelligence,” as Napoleon Hill put it, is a power that is always at work for those that know and trust in God. As J. Lubbock said “Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.” Learn to appreciate this form of quiet time by getting in touch with nature.All these can reduce your stress level dramatically.

Another form of taking time out is to simply be by yourself and think. Meditation may be a fitting word here, although I use it simply to mean “reflection.” It is sometimes necessary to shut out all the noise and distractions around you and sit and think. It does not have to be serious thought in the sense of planning or anything like that. Just being by yourself and thinking, even of silly things, is a useful thing to do.

“Don’t underestimate the value of doing nothing, of just going along, listening to all the things you can’t hear, and not bothering.” This is the advice of Pooh’s Little Instruction Book, inspired by A.A. Milne. Doing nothing once in a while, can be a very healthy way to reduce stress. Indeed someone advised that “the time to relax is when you don’t have time for it.” So the ability to work towards your future and your dreams has to go hand in hand with the ability to relax. Balance is the law of nature. Work hard and relax hard too. George Jean Nathan agreed with this sentiment in saying “A life spent in constant labour is a life wasted, save a man be such a fool as to regard a fulsome obituary notice as ample reward.” Enjoying life is just as important as being successful and wealthy.

Are you giving yourself the time you deserve? Do you take time to listen to yourself? Do you have time to appreciate the simple but awesome pleasures of life? Do you take time to give yourself a treat and just show yourself how special and wonderful you are? Find time for all these things. It will help you in achieving your dreams more than always being busy will. J.A Hadfield attributed greatness to the ability to rest in saying: “This art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of energy in our great men.”


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