The Dave Matthews band calls it, "The Space Between." Marketers say, "White space sells." Advertisers refer to "The pause that refreshes." All of these folks and their sayings come to mind when I find myself overwhelmed by the business and intensity of living.
Life comes at us pretty hard, sometimes. The multiplying demands of parenting, the self manifesting lists of tasks for work, the bombardment of feelings from our relationships - all take their toll on us. Our lives become crowded. Sometimes we carve out more time by sleeping less. Other times we try to tilt the scales by omitting leisure time and hobbies. These things, these accessories to our living are 'luxuries' after all, right? Soon we become tired, anxious, angry and hungry for some down time. Devotion to family, church, non-profits, and even our pets tugs at us with passionate attachment.
We all know in our minds that down time brings balance, even serenity to our living, yet... too often we lack the white space between the business and activities that make demands of us. Here's a short list of 5 things we can do to create more white space in our living.
- Manage our use of time. When we begin to feel that we don't have enough time in the day, that there is not enough of us to go around, we can remember that there is always 'enough' time. Time doesn't vary. We have 86,400 seconds in every day - everyday. The issue is trying to do too much. Make a list of everything that needs to be done, then organize your day accordingly. Group similar tasks together (computer tasks, errands, phone calls) and then complete similar tasks together. Delegate to someone else what you can (don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, colleagues, even relatives). "To everything there is a season..." -Ecclesiastes 3:1
- Plan for your hobbies. Many of us don't think of our 'play' time as important. Carl Jung reportedly spent hours 'playing' during his most difficult periods of his adult life. The solution to our biggest obstacles is often dependent on us allowing our creative minds to play. Make sure that 'play' that you enjoy is on your list.
- Exercise. The spirit may be willing, but if the flesh is weak, stress and fatigue will overcome us. As strange as it seems, the times when we are most 'tired' are often because we have neglected our bodies. Exercise that engages cardio and muscle strength - even in 20-30 minute daily doses will work wonders.
- Use advocates. We all have people who understand our need to rest, relax, create, ponder and otherwise have down-time in our lives. If we can get the support of a loving friend to hold us accountable for our self care, we are likely to be more successful. It is easier to say 'no' to one more demand if we have an advocate in our corner.
- Do nothing. There is a Spanish proverb - "How beautiful it is to do nothing, and then to rest afterwards." Plan for some nothing time. A cup of coffee on the back porch. A restful moment before you start your morning commute. Stare at the stars. Stand in the dark and feel yourself breathe. Sit in a chair, close your eyes and listen to music. Heck, even God rested on the 7th day. Make some 7th day time!
Even the language we use only makes sense because of the space bar, the breaks between letters. Having white space in our living helps, too.
What more can you add to the list? How do you know it's time to slow down?