We live in a society that views exhaustion and overextended schedules as badges of honor. Even after the world slowed down due to COVID, many went right back to the daily grind of working long hours and filling our days with resumé-enhancing tasks, some more eagerly than others.
We’ve fallen right back into subscribing to the idea that truly taking time for ourselves is a negative thing. We have to stay busy because, for some reason, we believe that busyness directly determines success. I know I’m guilty of this.
I like to be busy. I always have. Stillness does not come easily to me. Even if I don’t necessarily have anything on my agenda, I would rather fill time by doing things. I’ll find something to clean, take my dog on a walk, reorganize my whole house, make an elaborate meal, or even just pace around my kitchen before I’d choose to just sit and be still.
Allowing myself to be still is something I’m working on, though. I’ve realized over the past few months that I don’t give myself enough time to just be. I don’t take the time to clear my head and breathe and live in the moment. Even if I’m not doing anything, I tend to plan in my head. I’ll think about what I should have done yesterday, or what I need to do tomorrow. I don’t really just accept where I am. Because of that, I never truly give my mind a break. Just as our bodies need time to rest, so do our minds.
Whenever I have a few really busy days back-to-back, to the point that it feels like I’m running on autopilot just to get everything done, I find that my head feels cloudy by the end. I have so much racing through my brain that I have a hard time putting together any coherent thoughts. I don’t like that feeling, of course, and I know the best way to cure it is to take some time to just be still. As I’ve said, though, that’s not always easy for me, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
I’ve found that taking even a few minutes to just sit and take in my surroundings can help. Get rid of any distractions. Set your phone aside, turn off the tv, and just be. Let your mind wander, but don’t try to focus in on any one thought. I had a therapist once who told me to picture my thoughts as clouds floating through the sky. See them, accept them, and let them move on. After a bit, the sky will clear.
Practicing this sort of mindfulness has proven beneficial for me, and I’m working on getting to a point that I don’t have to force myself to do it. Even in a society that prioritizes busyness and work over self-care, taking time to be still and clear our minds should not be seen as a chore. After all, our bodies work best when our brains work best.
Stay safe. Allow yourself to be still.