Take time out to simply enjoy life

Taking a break, even for a few minutes, can help to slow the frenetic pace of life. PHOTO: GETTY...
Taking a break, even for a few minutes, can help to slow the frenetic pace of life. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
Feeling a bit stressed? Jan Aitken shares some ideas on to help you reduce the frenetic pace of modern life.

Jan Aitken
Jan Aitken
In my last column, I wrote about creating space as a way of slowing the pace of life. Life hurtles along at what seems like an ever-increasing speed and it can become quite overwhelming and stressful.

I started by listing three simple things to help you on the pathway to creating some mental and emotional space: (1) removing mindless web surfing to cut down on wasted hours disappearing down internet rabbit holes; (2) getting outdoors - even for a short walk - to enjoy the fresh air, as moving does wonders for mind and body; and (3) take a nap when you can.

This week we’ll take a look some other ideas to consider building into your routines, all with the aim of helping to slow the frenetic pace of modern life.

But first, if you truly want to change how you’re living, there is something else to think about, and you need to be brutally honest with yourself : Are you prepared to do the work needed? What will you gain? What will you lose? Do you believe you are worth setting up some self-care actions/behaviours? Do you believe you are worthy?

If you don’t believe you are ‘‘worth it’’, then creating change can be difficult. This includes taking responsibility and owning the behaviours/actions/beliefs that have contributed to getting you to where you find yourself and then changing what you can.

We might not get it completely right - that’s another thing to accept: we won’t always get it right - but we can learn and adapt.

Now, with all that in mind, here are some ideas to help you reduce the pace of life.


Find some extra space by waking earlier, even by just 15 minutes. It creates a ‘‘soft landing’’ into your day and avoids an adrenaline charged start.


Much of our downtime is being swapped for the intake of even more information and filling in the space with noise and visual stimulation. The average person now watches 34 hours of television each week.

Flip the off switch, even one show earlier than normal will help you to discover the downtime your mind has needed all along.


Don’t eat at your desk and take your breaks.

People often forfeit breaks to ‘‘get more done’’. Downtime allows you to work more efficiently as breaks help to relax your mind.


Quiet time centres your mind and nurtures your well-being. Research shows positive physical changes in the brains of those who consistently take time to meditate or simply reflect.


The Pomodoro Technique is based upon the idea that our minds work best in 25-minute bursts. Decide on a task, set a timer for 25 minutes, work on the task until the timer sounds and then take a short 3-5 minute break. Every four intervals, take a longer (15-30 minutes) break.

This time management technique may be helpful in creating space and enhancing your effectiveness so you accomplish more.


The constant stream of notifications has allowed work to leak into your ‘‘off’’ time.

One simple strategy to redraw those lines is to turn off the notifications (email, Facebook, IM) when you’re not at work. Keep work for work and downtime for downtime.

If your mind needs some respite from the ever-increasing speed of life, implementing just one or two of these simple strategies might provide you with the extra space your mind desires or even needs.

Jan Aitken is a Dunedin-based life coach.

For more go to www.fitforlifecoaches.co.nz.



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