A day can be said to be broken into three. Eight hours of sleep, eight of work and eight of leisure. So why doesn't it feel like you spend the same amount of time on work as you do leisure?
Enter, the importance of rest.
When we think of rest, the definition is not, nor should not, be confined to sleep. It reaches far beyond this to encompass any time in the day in which you are not committed to the act of working.
I will run you through two examples. On the way to work you walk to the bus stop two blocks from your unit, this is rest. You get home from work and plonk yourself down on the couch for half an hour, this also is rest.
Each moment where your mind is not confined to work is an opportunity.
Take a pen and a piece of paper and test this for yourself. Write down the hours you sleep and those hours spent at work. In the mix of these required activities, how do you you use the spare time you have accumulated?
What about the washing?
For some, you may be thinking, well what about tasks, chores and the mundane 'have to's' of the day. Do they not constitute work? In short, no they don't. These tasks constitute what you want them to. If you flip your attitude around, if it was previously flipped the wrong way, there lies the beauty of simplicity you may have never seen before. Each task being a lesson in meditation. Take, for example, this piece by Time Magazine which discusses the idea of how washing dishes can significantly lower your stress level—if you do it mindfully.
"While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly. Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves"
Work that won't do itself
For some, you may be thinking, well what about the masters in public health i chose to complete, the exam marking to do after dinner or the after work networking drinks? Do they not constitute work? In short, yes, they do. The difference being they are transient in nature and to a degree, can be in our control to say no to. Here, there, sure you may find yourself embarking on a work task in your leisure time. That is ok, as for some it is a means of enhancing the enjoyment of your eight hours of work ie. it will lead to a promotion. If however, over time, you find your eight hours of leisure are filled with these work based tasks each day, it may be time to reconsider your balance and rejig your goals. You have a choice here.
So how do you spend your eight?
Do you sit on facebook, worry about tomorrows project meeting, or a conversation you had over the weekend? Or are you belting your heart out to spotify while cooking your favourite dish or sinking into a hot bath with a novel that featured on your 2014, 2015 and now 2016 new years resolution list to complete. Here and now is a salient time to reach over to your pen and paper and draw a line through the middle of the page. List five ways you would like to spend your down time and list five ways you currently spend your down time. If there is a discrepancy, think about correcting this and perhaps ruffle up a game plan to get you there. Which ever the activity you choose is up to you, choose them wisely and adapt your list where you see fit.
Power yogi, zenn'ed out monk
Feeling in control, balanced and being downright awesome does not have to come in the form of a prepackaged yoga retreat or a 5 week commitment to learn how to meditate either. Although for some this is exactly what is required. Balance comes from the mundane. The 10 minutes between two tasks when you notice the trees outside your office window, the choice to spend your lunch hour in silence enjoying the flavours of your meal, the way you become aware of your breath on the train to work. Each spare moment is a moment in time to be mindful.
"Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
- John Lubbock
Those holiday vibes, daily
If we mindfully choose to spend our leisure hours engaged in activities that promote relaxation, relaxation inevitably will be the result. How novel an idea! Think back to the virtues of your last overseas holiday, time away from the city visiting friends in Melbourne. How you felt on these days and in these moments is not necessarily a plane ride away. But rather a small shift of your mindset near. Reshape your thought on your eight and you will reshape they way you spend one third of your time. Be mindful in your movements, and delicate in your decisions.
Use your eight hours wisely. Rest, embark in pursuits you thoroughly enjoy. Be you and always be in control of your time so the evil facebook monster or work goblin doesn't snatch you up while you are unaware.
Jennifer Ward Adv Dip Nat, Bcom Econ
Jennifer is a qualified Naturopath trained in herbal medicine, nutritional medicine and health coaching. Consultations available by appointment.
The Use Of Life by John Lubbock 1894 https://archive.org/details/uselife02lubbgoog
Time Magazine - Washing the dishes is a really great stress reliever, science says 2015 http://time.com/4056280/washing-dishes-stress-relief-mindfulness/