The Holiday season often brings us more time pressures, with additional family and social obligations and activities. So instead of enjoying the holidays we end up stressed out and scramble to juggle it all.
This makes me wonder why do we always feel starved for time? It seems that we have all forgotten how to take a break and recharge. Our digital society creates a cognitive overload with a constant flow of information pushed on to us, non-stop and never-ending. This creates what neuroscientists call a “mental overwhelm” that impairs our ability to be creative, plan, innovate, solve problems, learn new things easily, in short it impairs our ability to perform all the important things we have to do every day!
Dr. Christine Carter, a sociologist at the University of Berkeley, has studied this phenomenon and her new book due January 2015 – The Sweet Spot: How to Find Your Groove at Home and Work – is about how to achieve more by doing less.
According to her studies the core problem with all of this is that “We human beings need stillness in order to recharge our batteries. We only experience big joy and real gratitude and the dozens of other positive emotions that make our lives worth living by actually being in touch with our emotions—by giving ourselves space to actually feel what it is we are, well, feeling. In an effort to avoid the uncomfortable feelings that stillness can produce (such as the panicky feeling that we aren’t getting anything done), we also numb ourselves to the good feelings in our lives.”
Her main take-away is “If we want to be high-functioning and happy, we need to re-learn how to be still. When we feel like there isn’t enough time in the day for us to get everything done, when we wish for more time… we don’t actually need more time. We need more stillness. Stillness to recharge. Stillness so that we can feel whatever it is that we feel. Stillness so that we can actually enjoy this life that we are living.”
So if you’re rushing and feeling overwhelmed, just stop and pause. Remember that what you need is not more time to do tasks but downtime to recharge and regain your ability to function effectively and creatively. Bundle up and go out for a walk in nature, get a coffee and let your thoughts wander, or sit still and focus on your breathing.
Next time you find yourself daydreaming while sipping on a warm cup of tea, remember that you’re not wasting time. You are recharging your batteries and your brainpower.