Back in 1966, simon and garfunkel told the world, “slow down. you move too fast.” Little did these folk legends know just how fast the world was going to get. Each year seems to go quicker than the last. No sooner have we penned important dates into the virgin pages of a new year’s diary than we are out buying the next one.
But time is a constant that can take no blame for this. It is not time that is going quicker, but us.
Our already busy lives get busier by the day. Work, kids, social lives, exercise. Exciting unmissable events. Once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that simply can’t be overlooked. Each weekend offers up a whole new host of things to do and places to go. When faced with a plethora of options, each one sounding better than the last, as the great Eighties icon (and common man’s philosopher at large) Ferris Bueller once said, “The question isn’t what are you going to do, the question is what aren’t you going to do.”
And the days are exciting, and it makes for great Facebook/Instagram fodder, and we get to feel like we are succeeding in this thing called life. But it means that each moment of our lives is accounted for. On top of that, thanks to mobile phones and other portable technology, each spare second is maximised (check your emails while you wait for the kettle to boil, whatsapp your mum while you’re breastfeeding, book cinema tickets while you’re in the taxi). So when do we get a chance to sit with our own thoughts? To take in the view? To just be?
Many a conversation (in the office and outside with friends) on the incessant busy-ness of our lives points to a common consequence. That we are exhausted. And not in the way that can be fixed with a couple of early nights and a spa treatment. In the way that we need a change. A long-term, definitive shift in the way we live. Overwhelmed. Tired. Burnt out. Hectic. These are all exhaustion-related words that are rolled out on a regular basis by pretty much every woman we know. And we are not alone.
Studies the world over report that men and women – but especially women, it seems – are busy to breaking point. Articles are being written about it (google ’the busy epidemic’); books are being published (check out Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has the Time by Brigid Schulte) – and yet the need to live life at a light speed remains.
Huffington Post featured an article on warning signs that your life is dangerously busy, including eating on the go; being sleep-deprived; not having time for exercise, or life admin; secretly hoping your social plans will get cancelled; tense muscles, and so on. Erm… Yes, we get it, we are over-busy, overwhelmed and over it. But what can be done about it?
The good news is that we are starting to fight back at this happiness-eroding issue. People are recognising that if we can’t find time for downtime, we need fun ways to let off steam. The instant success of Dubai’s first trampoline park, Bounce, was testament to that. In the US, there are ‘summer camps’ for adults where you can spend a few days zip-lining, meditating, hiking, canoeing and more (we love the sound of the Getaway Camp: A Weekend for Busy Women to Break Free).
Another way to ease the strain is to chat with a friend about the pressure of your time-drought. Stress expert Joan Z Borysenko, author of 13 books, the most recent of which is called Fried: Why you Burn Out and How to Revive, says that “The more stress women feel, the faster we bond”. And that soothing each other helps us soothe ourselves.
Whether you think you’ll combat your busy-ness by carving some downtime into your 2015 diary, or starting off gently with a chat to a friend, now is the time to do it. Make this the year you resolutely decide to do less, not more. The year you decide to be a chiller, not a do-er. The year that time gets slower, rather than faster. Because, to quote our dear friend Ferris again, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”