Six ways to slow down in the midst of busy schedules

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Mark Zuiderveen

Many students find that spending time on the beach is a fun way to relax.

Alyse Zuiderveen, Copy Editor

In today’s society that encourages busyness and the completion of tasks, it is important to spend time resting and doing what we love in order to be most effective. While complete rest is necessary at times, it is also important to take time to participate in forms of active rest. According to Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang, author of “Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less,” rest is advantageous to productivity. By increasing periods of rest or active rest, many find that a busy schedule is counter-productive or overwhelming. 

Unfortunately, the application of rest often seems elusive and confusing. How can we take time out of our busy schedules to ensure that we are taking proper periods of time to rest? Here are six practical ways to slow down in the midst of the busyness of life:

      1. Leave margin in your day

While the phrase “you make time for what is important to you” often seems cliche, its value is true – we all have the same 24 hours in a day, and we get to choose how we will take advantage of them. Certified counselor Jason Taylor often works with individuals who feel overwhelmed by the weight of life’s burdens and crave an escape through rest. In response to this, Taylor suggested to “leave margin in your day for unplanned, healthy activity [such as] hanging out with friends [and] community service opportunities.” Taylor believes in the power of active rest and believes that leaving margin allows for individuals to participate in activities that will give them life and renew their passion. “A rhythm of good, healthy activity and rest is best. This may look different for each person as we all have varying degrees of tolerance. But work/activity is helpful overall,” he shared.

      2. Plan healthy, life-giving activities

During times of margin, it is important to participate in activities that are life-giving or activities that make you feel healthy and alive. While examples of life-giving activities and their application to daily life are rather subjective, it is crucial that individuals take time to renew their energy and be intentional to do so through the activities they participate in. Regardless of what gives you life, it is important to ensure that the activities you participate in further your long-term goals and/or relationships with others. Allow yourself time to have fun and be energized through what you do and do what you love!

      3. Intentionally choose contentment 

For many who struggle to maintain an attitude of contentment, it can seem difficult to see how the benefits of gratitude could have a connection to resting in the midst of busy schedules. However, gratitude improves both mental health and efficiency, allowing individuals more time to rest while remembering what they are grateful for. This intentional gratitude could take form in a gratitude journal or through apps such as “Gratitude.” Regardless of the method used to approach gratitude, it is important to live a gratitude-centered life to fuel motivation and productivity. Gratitude leads to long-term happiness and contentment, which have significant impacts on quality of life. 

      4. Spend time outdoors

While the benefits of being outdoors are often mentioned when discussing physical health, it is important to recognize the correlation between time outside and an improved state of mental health. Taking time to enjoy life without electronics and being active has proven advantageous for mental health across the globe. PV junior Alyssa Gauss enjoys her time outside. “My family and I love to go on the river and it’s a great way to bond. We can’t have our phones out when we are on the boat and getting to bond without phones is really important to me,” she shared. The benefits of time outside on both mental and physical health are invaluable, making time outside an important part of rest. 

      5. Engage in the activities you are passionate about

Similar to participating in life-giving activities, engaging in activities you are passionate about is an important way to participate in active rest. Whether you are someone who enjoys music, sports or something else, the value of growing your passions cannot be measured and will extend beyond your period of rest. Allow yourself to participate without fear of failure and release yourself from the constraints placed on you by society regarding the need to be the best or perfect. When was the last time you picked up a book that was not for an assignment? When was the last time you went for a hike to enjoy the great outdoors without fear of meeting a move goal on your Apple Watch? Try to take moments to enjoy life without the pressure of perfection – the liberation that comes when you release yourself from expectations society places on you is freeing!

      6. Be intentional to get proper sleep at night

While getting sleep often seems unattainable in a world plagued by social media, 11:59 p.m. deadlines and completion-based affirmation, it is crucial to make efforts to get sleep when possible. Sleep is often affiliated with rest, and getting sleep has significant benefits to productivity, mental health and other important facets of life. Make intentional efforts to go to bed early and get uninterrupted sleep by utilizing features like Apple’s Do Not Disturb. Rest and sleep take intentionality but are not impossible to achieve – start building habits involving proper sleep, and pay attention to when your body needs rest in the form of sleep! 

As you face the busy demands of life, remember that taking time to rest is important. It may be difficult and take hard work, but it will be worth it!