The sheer volume and diversity of readily available technologies and products all aimed at giving us the ultimate in daily convenience and speed is unprecedented in today’s world. So it is particularly ironic, that instead of our ‘comfortable’ lives being calmer, more peaceful and filled with leisure, we’re ridiculously time-pressed and stressed, out of kilter and unsatisfied.
Demands, expectations and aspirations are so extreme that keeping it all together, at home, at work and in our social circles has never been so challenging. In fact, more and more of us are finding that we have to develop a whole new personal skills-set in order to survive, never mind thrive.
Counsellor and coach, Natalee Holmes, who is speaking at the upcoming SACAP Festival of Learning, gets to the core of this conundrum when she says: “It is the striving for perfection that is an everyday stressor that prevents us from living balanced lives and that seems to take away the enjoyment in everything.”
So, the problem is not ‘out there’. We’re doing it to ourselves.
Natalee explains: “We want to be perfectly on time. We want to have perfectly healthy meals. We want the perfect house and car and clothes and things to fit our lifestyles. And mostly, we want to be the perfect parent, partner, and employee or professional. So, we constantly rush; we work longer hours than is healthy; we live on the edge of our salaries and we overcommit ourselves in all areas of life. This means that everything is a stress, and little to no pleasure is derived from daily life. We live at too fast a pace and don’t allow ourselves the times we need to rest, rejuvenate and relish.”
Natalee shares her top tips for finding balance concerns these times:
Prioritise down time
This is time when you can switch off, breath, and just be. It is time when you feel rejuvenated, instead of stretched thin. It is time when you can enjoy the minutes ticking by, doing whatever gives you joy and feeds your soul.
Schedule family time
This is your fun time with the family when memories are made and the bonds that bind us as a family unit are strengthened. It can be active time, down time or even quiet time – but if it is done as a family and is making memories, this is family cementing time.
Do guilt-free me time
This is personal time spent doing things you want to do that give you joy and feed your soul – it can be active time, quiet time, or simple relaxing time. Whatever you do in this time it needs to energise you and recharge you in some way. It should also be taken and enjoyed without a shred of guilt.
“All of these essential times contribute to balance because they counter the stressful times,” Natalee says. “Times of relaxation and enjoyment are what we work so hard for and if we don’t get to experience them, then we are purely working and doing things that do not feed our souls or allow us to be happy. Balance cannot be felt in the absence of the times that nurture us.”