Life is often overwhelming; some might say it’s always overwhelming. Regardless, the one thing we can all agree upon is that satisfaction eludes us. And we all understand we need to give less weight to things that matter less in our lives, and more to those that matter more. But where to begin?
It can be a tricky topic if you start thinking about it, but thinking here does no good. If you feel you’re getting burned out, that there is just too much stuff to do or keep up with, we’ve got some quick tips to help you slow down and relax.
Tip 1: Use the mobile phone to defeat the mobile phone
Mobile phone usage is exploding, and entertainment companies are finding more and more ingenious ways to keep us glued to our screens. But lack of sleep and tiredness are not the only “mild” side-effects of mobile phone usage. There are severe ones also, like depression and suicide, which according to a study by researchers at Florida and San Diego State Universities has risen exponentially since 2010 (“Increases in depressive symptoms, suicide-related outcomes, and suicide rates among US adolescents after 2010 and links to increased new media screen time”, Jean M Twenge et al, Published in Clinical Psychological Science in Nov 2017).
Now, granted that we are addicted to mobile phones, but these very devices can help us overcome the addiction. Use a timer plus reminder mobile app to remind you to step away from the phone at least once a day. Let’s say it is 6 pm, and the reminder goes off. Your job now is to set a timer for at least an hour, put the phone in airplane mode, and drop it in a drawer or something. Fewer things to check, fewer things to worry about!
Tip 2: Reduce your goals
When we say reduce your goals, we don’t necessarily mean aim lower. Instead, what we mean is that we reduce the number of goals we have; or at least reduce the intensity of all but one. For instance, aiming to doubling your income in 12 months and losing 30kg is going to be a taxing combination. Eliminate or reduce the ones that are not really relevant right now, and you’ll find greater mind space and peace.
Tip 3: Reduce consumption of digital media
Now, you can argue that you absolutely love your Netflix shows and Instagram feed and all that, but think about it: you’ve been at it for years; what has all this time you’ve poured into these things given you back?
Very little. In fact, these are the very things that have caused the other, more important things to be pushed on to the “someday” list. Like, learning a new skill, meeting up with that long lost friend, losing weight – all these things get put off because we are too busy enjoying the immediate.
Not just that, binge-watching, over prolonged periods of time, can even be fatal. An Australian study of more than 8,900 adults, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, found each additional hour of TV viewing was associated with a 12 per cent increased risk of inflammatory-related death. Those who spent more than four hours a day watching TV were at greatest risk.
The solution? Eliminate your digital subscriptions one by one until you’re left with the most enjoyable. How do you know which one is most enjoyable? Well, if we told you you’d get only an hour a day’s worth of digital content, which content will it be? Figure that out and remove everything else. And yes, you do need to limit yourself to an hour a day.
Tip 4: Bedtime means bedtime
Bedtime is the most important time for our bodies to relax and rejuvenate. Instead, we find ourselves hooked on to some device or another, watching random things. While it does give you a kick of sorts, the downside is that over time the lack of sleep accumulates and manifests as restlessness, depression, high blood pressure, etc.
It will hard to give up the night-time binge watching, sure. For the first week or so you’ll feel like your air supply has been cut off. Relax, this is just the withdrawal symptoms and would soon disappear. A few days into this, and you’ll see how something as simple as sleep can turn your life upside down.
Tip 5: Plan less
Prediction and planning seem to be the driving forces of modern lives, but for us mere mortals, it wreaks havoc on the mind. From the moment you get up, you are evaluating endless possibilities and planning for things that are years away. What if I reach office late? What if it’s raining when I start back? Do I have enough eggs? Will my sister ever call me? . . . And so on goes the restless mind, until you start wondering why you ever wanted to grow up!
And here’s the insight: all this planning and brooding hasn’t helped one bit; instead, it brings severe problems over time. Life takes its own course, and we just have to follow along. So if that is the case, why not do away with the frantic planning and worrying altogether? What’s the worst that can happen?
Did you notice the common pattern here? We aren’t suggesting you ditch everything you do in modern life and go live in a cave, but that you put quality over quantity. Just as eating 20 apples a day isn’t a great idea, so isn’t hoarding, over-consuming, over-thinking, etc. Before you decide to do something, ask yourself: Will this simplify my life? If not, don’t do it.
Yes, easier said than done, but if you really love yourself and want to be saved, you’ll make the effort.