The other day I woke up and realised I really needed a day to just unwind, recover and relax.
A spot of light reading, perhaps a cup of coffee or two on the sofa and maybe a walk in the afternoon if the weather held out.
When I was living in the reality of that day, I felt that I had truly achieved this and managed to amble through a day doing next to nothing.
If I look back now, and am totally honest with myself, I have to admit that I may have sneaked just a few jobs, errands and tasks in there.
The difficulty is that it is really hard to justify, and just accept, that in this busy, hectic world, it’s okay to do less. It’s okay to have a day or two of doing absolutely nothing.
We feel that unless we have a grand sense of accomplishment achieved by successfully ticking off at least ten things on our ever growing to-do lists, we have had somewhat a failure of a day.
Rather than measuring our success on our happiness, our prioritization of the things that matter to us and our wellbeing, we instead measure it on how important we feel because we have managed to do more ‘stuff’.
On my ‘relax and recover’ day I managed to, on top of my reading, coffee drinking and walking, do an online shop, deep clean and sort the kitchen cupboards, pack a little more for the move, order a friends birthday present, call my family for a check in, order a new lightbulb and starter for the bathroom and order a cake for our leaving party.
If that was a lot to read in one sentence, just imagine how much extra it added to a day that was meant to be filled with nothing. Additionally, just imagine how much more gets done on a day not planned for rest.
I am not writing this to show how much extra I managed to do on a day off. Instead it’s a bit of a personal reflection on how much I felt I needed to just get done, when really my head, body and mind was telling me to just take a day.
Quite often I find that it’s the unreal expectations we set ourselves which stops us from really doing what we want to do. We are not doing less, we are just demanding more from ourselves.
A 2018 survey by Forth with Life found that 42% of women and 36% of men feel way too stressed. Guess what one of the top causes was? You got it, it’s being too busy.
A quick search on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram gives instant insight into why we have adopted a culture of seeing busy as a sign of success.
#busybusybusy = nearly 100,000 posts on Instagram
#busylife = over 350,000
and let’s not forget, you can’t be a good mum if you’re not exhausted from cramming things into every hour of your day, so it makes sense that #busymom has nearly one million shares.
Personally, I don’t want to be busy.
I want to stop filling my downtime with more stuff and noise just so I don’t feel bad about reading a whole book and maybe even having a bath and nap in between chapters.
Relaxing, unwinding, reflecting. It’s still you doing something. It’s arguably more important than anything else as without your health, it’s hard to do the rest.
Just because with technology it’s easier to do more, easier to feel lazy when you see others filling their days with more, and easier to find more ways to be busy, doesn’t mean it’s right.
Looking back, I don’t feel success or any striking memories from the days where I ticked 10 menial things off my to-do list (most of them instigated by my need to do more and be more busy). My memories come from good books, successful projects in work and at home, travelling and laughing with friends and family.
I am happy to be seen as someone who does less. As long as I am happy.
That’s success for me.