Now that you are an empty nester, what would you do without Gimley, your ‘fur baby’ – man’s best friend?
You may even be living alone, trying to figure out what comes next and Gimley keeps you sane.
You are one of the 76 million Baby Boom Generation, born between 1944 and 1964 – a generation that loves dogs.
Dogs have been called ‘man’s best friend’ since they were first domesticated, thousands of years ago. But, Baby Boomers seem to have taken it to heart more than other generations.
They make up 37% of all dog owners – a sizeable chunk of the dog-owning population.
If you are a ‘boomer’ or are related to a ‘boomer, you know their dogs are more than just a friend to keep them company as the years pile up and retirement is looming. They are part of the family.
Why Boomers Relate Differently to Dogs
Baby Boomers were welcomed into a world that was enjoying a new level of comfort. Life was different and possibilities unknown to prior generations were everywhere. This included dog companionship on a different level.
They grew up with their dogs in the home and developed strong bonds with their furry friends at an early age. The connection to pets was intense and those relationships were carried into adulthood.
The Shift from Outside to Inside
Before the Baby Boomers, dogs were primarily outside pets. You may remember the backyard dog houses. But with the Boomer Generation things changed.
Pups were kept inside and integrated into the family, which created a companionship dynamic that had never before existed.
The strong bond Boomers have with their dogs goes a long way in keeping them feeling fulfilled and sociable.
Coping with Change
The companionship and unconditional love that dogs provide helps owners adjust more easily to life changes.
The empty nest – filling the gap when children leave.
Physical well-being (staying active) – dogs must be walked, so owners get more exercise.
Mental health – there are issues that can arise as a person moves into different stages of life. The loving companionship of a dog reduces loneliness and lessens the risk of depression and anxiety
Dogs Are Social Facilitators
Boomers know that dog owners reap social benefits that do not come with other types of pets.
Dogs love to be outside, they love to run and play, and they have to be “walked” for exercise and relief. The result is dog owners tend to get out of the house several times a day and enjoy the side benefit of easily connecting with other dog owners.
A few activities that Boomers enjoy with their furry best friends:
Getting to know the neighborhood and the neighbors
Being part of a dog-walking group
Attending dog-focused events
Regular visits to the dog park
Dogs Are Good for the Heart
When it comes to heart health issues, dogs have your back. According to a nationwide study, dog owners have a lower risk of heart disease.
The researchers also found there is a link between the breed and the relative risk of developing cardiovascular disease. Hunting breeds were related to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than any other breed of dog.
So, if you are in the market for a dog, you may want to consider a Labrador, beagle, Weimaraner, golden retriever, or bloodhound.
And . . . That’s Not all
There are many health benefits of living with man’s best friend.
The companionship and higher levels of exercise that come with having a furry friend lowers the risk of high blood pressure.
It is hard to stay stressed when you feel the unconditional love that dogs provide. Studies have found that the simple scratching of your dog’s head can improve your mood significantly.
To sum it up – dogs are still man’s best friend, just ask any Boomer dog-owner.
In spite of the fact that people brag about being able to multi-task, the reality is that the human mind can only focus on one thing at a time. When you pay attention to one thing the mind automatically blocks out all other stimuli. Multi-tasking is simply jumping from focal point to focal point; but, you are still only focusing on one thing at a time.
The payoff from trying to multi-task is not worth the toll it takes on the individual making the effort.
David Meyer, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan states the following:
Doing several tasks simultaneously may seem like the height of efficiency – and it would be, if a person had more than one brain. In the real world, multitasking actually wastes time and reduces work quality.
Many studies have shown that multitasking slows down the mind and makes it less effective. Dividing and distracting the mind causes rapid mental course changes, the inability to effectively focus, and creates stress – which increases with every additional task that is added to the mix.
Imagine a dog who is trying to chase three different balls thrown in different directions. He runs two steps in one direction, three steps in another, and one step in the third. He ends up running in circles.
The mind is the same.
The more time you spend changing mental direction the less time you have to actually focus on a single task.
The more directions or mental tasks you add, the less effective you become.
But . . . that is not the whole story. Another facet of multi-tasking is worrying about events, projects, or situations that have nothing to do with where your focus should be at the moment. Worrying about what has happened, or may happen changes nothing. All it does is drain your mental and emotional resources, making you less effective at the task at hand.
Let your subconscious handle it. The subconscious mind is one of the most powerful tools that we possess. It is unnecessary to make an effort to keep everything at the “top-of-mind” because everything that happens is stored in your sub-conscious.
If someone asks what you did last Monday evening, you do not have to consciously go back and examine every minute of that day to find the answer. The subconscious mind takes over; it instantly searching the brain’s archives, retrieves the memory and quickly delivers it to the conscious mind.
It works the same way with any task that involves memorized actions and facts. Like conscious thoughts, these subconscious processes also utilize brain energy and processing capacity that can go on overload if pushed too far, which can take a toll on your emotions.
The Human Computer
If you compare the brain to parts of a computer, the conscious mind is somewhat like the user interface, the part that becomes visible on screen that can be directed by the click of a mouse to execute a command.
The subconscious on the other hand is like the processor. While invisible, it actually does most of the work, executing on every command within milliseconds after the user initiates it.
Also, like a computer, if you ask it to execute too many commands simultaneously, or give a command that is far too large and complex, it will freeze and lock up.
Let’s look at an example:
You are under pressure to finish an urgent project at work. But, before you left for work this morning you had a fight with your spouse. You have consciously put the fight out of your mind, but your subconscious mind has not stopped running through the words spoken in anger and the emotions that flared.
After a hour or two at work, you realize you are not giving your full attention to the project; plus, you are extremely irritable, which is not typically your nature.
Even though you are not actively thinking about the fight itself, while you are trying to keep you conscious mind focused on the work, your subconscious continues to ruminate on the fight and react emotionally to it.
The emotional response of your brain is creating a physiological and psychological effect that is absorbing all your processing capacity and coloring every other thought you have, even those that have nothing to do with the fight at all.
Essentially, the mind has locked up! The past is controlling the present, making it almost impossible to function effectively and take care of what needs to be done at this moment.
Developing the ability to let go of the past, and stay in the present moment is critical to a high level of productivity and effectiveness.
Then . . . there is the challenge of the future. Some object to the philosophy of “living in the moment” by saying that the present is not the only important time frame – that the future is equally important. I agree the future is important, but there is a caveat that must be added.
Plan, but Do Not Dwell on the Future
We need to plan for the future, short-term and long-term. Setting goals and having a clear picture of where you want to go during the next few months and years will help pull you into the life that you want to create.
But . . . thinking about the future should not be something that consumes a large percentage of your mental time.
Like the past (which is gone and cannot be changed), the future, which has not yet arrived, also cannot be changed by your thoughts. It can only be changed as you live in each present moment – thereby creating the future.
Dwelling on the future is dangerous for another reason – it allows you to stack-up multiple possible scenarios that become stressors. Worry overloads the mind, causing an emotional crash (going back to the computer analogy) followed by mental paralysis.
There is no need to put yourself through that kind of mental anguish when your imagined scenarios may never happen. It is a total waste of time and energy to stress about all the things that may or may not happen. Live in the moment and deal with what actually happens – when it happens!
The brain tends to look at the size of the task involved – rather than stretch it out over time. That is why it is important to break down tasks and challenges into bite-sized pieces, so the mind does not stress out and go into resistance mode. It is also an excellent way to overcome procrastination tendencies.
Now that we have covered the negative aspects of focusing on too many things at once, let’s look at something that can be powerful and useful.
Get in the Zone
There is definitely something therapeutic about focusing on one all-consuming task. The majority of us probably have at least one experience of focusing completely on a specific task and found that it pulled us into “the zone,” blocking everything else from our awareness.
This “zone” is a maximal state of attention, which can also include a maximal state of enjoyment, or a maximal state of pain, depending on the nature of the activity. The more you focus on a stimuli, the more you feel it.
The opposite is also true, the less you focus on it, the less you can feel or perceive it.
The body uses this principle to help reduce pain. When a person suffers from a cut, burn, or other painful injury, the pain can be diminished by massaging the area around the wound. The sensory nerves that react to the massage send pulses to the spinal cord.
At the same time it is also sending inhibitory pulses to the nerves nearby, which lessens the pain coming from nerves in the damaged area of the body. Scientists have even developed devices that can stimulate the nerves so much that they can negate a large portion of pain from severe injuries.
The psychological effect in the brain works the same way. We can effectually block out stressful thoughts by occupying our mental channels with ONLY what is going on in the moment. This is known as “diversion.” In Spanish divertido means fun, entertaining, or funny.
Diversion is the core of using the present moment to find peace of mind and create high levels of productivity.
Live in the Moment
When life is full of chaotic elements that threaten to overwhelm, it is simple to forget them all by focusing solely on what you are doing in the present (the here and now).
Although pleasurable activities are great for this purpose, they do not have to be pleasurable for this to work.
Scrubbing the bath tub can work just as well as binge-watching your favorite TV series. In fact, scrubbing the tub may be even more effective since it requires the involvement of all five of your senses, instead of just sight and sound.
This is why many people find activities such as gardening, jogging, sports, listening to music, painting, and crafts to be very therapeutic. They are great stress relievers. Even workplace activities, when not tied to urgent deadlines, can be relaxing.
This principle of living in the moment is also fundamental to meditation, which is meant to absorb your mind completely – to bring you fully present by focusing on one thing – like your breath going in and out.
Find diversions that work for you – that bring you into the moment – the give you peace of mind and improved performance in anything you endeavor.
Reaching high levels of professional and financial success at any cost has been the modern-day Mecca to multitudes of business men and women for several decades.
Unfortunately, the attainment of such an all-consuming goal has not produced the peace and happiness that was expected. There was a dark side to success.
Fairly recently, the question of balance and its impact on mental health and happiness has taken center stage in many circles of psychological research. Dozens of studies have been conducted and published on the subject as companies and individuals alike have noticed that their chaotic lifestyle has not produced the happiness they hoped to achieve. The cost has greatly outweighed the benefits.
The majority of these studies agree on one thing – there is potential for incredible benefits from living a balanced life filled with interesting and varied experiences rather than living with an all-consuming focus on career.
The studies also included some important findings about the effects of stress. Stress is not always detrimental to health and happiness. In fact, a bit of stress here and there is actually healthy, for both plants and animals – it stimulates growth and development. It depends on the source of the stress, how relentles it is, and how it is managed.
The danger comes when relentless stress pounds the mind and body and the individuals accept it as the norm. They cope with it the best they can; but allow no time for recovery from the depletion of resources.
Professional burnout from chronic stress debilitates the individual to the point that s/he can no longer function effectively on a personal or professional level.
“Burnout is one of those road hazards in life that high-achievers really should be keeping a close eye out for, but sadly – often because of their “I can do everything” personalities, they rarely see it coming.”
The individual may suffer with any or all of the following:
Physical and emotional exhaustion
Cynicism, anger, detachment
Feelings of ineffectiveness and lack of accomplishment
Bouts of anxiety and depression
Professional burnout does not happen overnight. It comes on slowly, overtime, making it difficult to recognize. There are warnings signs, but there are rarely recognized until it is too late.
The human body thrives on moderation. In spite of that being a fairly well-known fact, there are huge numbers of people who gravitate toward extreme lifestyles. They tend to be adrenalin junkies with a need for more and greater challenges.
It may be a psychological compulsion to escape the sea of sameness that drives them to seek everything in unhealthy proportions. But, whatever the cause, there is an endless list of good reasons to avoid the rat race and live a life of moderation on all fronts.
The Pressure Starts Early
A close look at America’s higher education system is good case study for what is happening. As knowledge increases, and job requirements become more demanding, the amount of curriculum required to graduate from college goes up, while the time allotted for completion of tasks goes down.
This places students under incredible amounts of stress. If you are a recent graduate or have a child in college you are probably aware that symptoms of chronic stress are everywhere – poor eating habits, lack of sleep, chronic anxiety and depression, poor quality of work, and a decreasing appreciation for study.
As a nation, America, has created such high expectations and placed such high stakes on a single four-year period of life that the pressure is almost unbearable. Even the students with the highest scholastic standings begin to dread the moment they have to open a text book.
High schools are not much better. Even the elementary schools are intense. Kindergarteners and First Graders have homework! Is it any wonder than many children hate school?
The problem is simple. When you put too much emphasis on a single focus, and create too much pressure around it, eventually even pleasurable activities become drudgery. The joy of the activity itself is smothered by the stress connected to it.
A good illustration of this is that many artists decide to keep their art as a hobby or recreation, rather than pursuing it as a profession. They realize that if their livelihood depended on their art, the pressure would dampen the fun, and joy of creating would lose its magic.
In America the one aspect of life where this principle is most blatantly violated is work/life balance. American professionals push themselves beyond reason their entire lives with the goal of retiring early and enjoying life more. Unfortunately, they often get the early retirement in the form of an unexpected permanent vacation because they literally work themselves to death.
Today, even a “typical work week” is extreme – more often than not it is 60 to 90 hours rather than 40.
A Series of Unhealthy Extremes
In order to cope with the unrelenting pressures, people turn to energy drinks, alcohol, ice cream, cheesecake, and other comfort foods and activities to dim or wipe out the memories of everything that happened during the past week – or that they have to face in the coming week.
Life becomes a series of unhealthy extremes – each one throwing everything else more and more out of balance.
The Solution is Simple
Simple – yes! But, not necessarily easy to incorporate when you have been on the fast track for years. It is called BALANCE!
Limit the number of hours you work each week – cut it down to at least 50, but 40 would be better. Disconnect from your electronic leash at the end of the day and on the weekend.
After a busy day at work, make it a practice to enjoy a nice dinner with family or friends. Plan time in your schedule in the evenings or on the weekend to do something you really enjoy – painting, hiking, swimming, basketball, reading, going to the movies – anything that is FUN and takes your mind from the pressures and responsibilities of work.
When you take the time for self-care on the weekend, going back to work on Monday morning will be much easier. You will have decompressed and regenerated enough that you will be able to handle work stress and the occasional crisis with grace and dignity – and let it go when it is over.
Daily and weekly rest and relaxation stabilizes you emotionally and psychologically. It is a much wiser strategy than working nights and weekends 95% of the year so that you can take one extended annual vacation.
Developing a nice balance of work, rest, and fun throughout the week increases overall satisfaction with life.
Balance and Moderation in all Things
The human body and mind were not meant to handle excess.
Balance and moderation can be applied universally in life, whether it is eating, sleeping, exercise, entertainment, socializing, study, or work. For example, the body does not do well when you starve it for three days and then binge eat for three hours.
The secret of good health and peace of mind is striving to find balance in every facet of your life.
Be sure there is time in your schedule to purchase fresh, healthy foods, to prepare tasty meals and allow plenty of time to enjoy them. Eat regular nutritious meals every day to provide the necessary fuel for your miraculous body to function at the highest level.
Regular exercise in moderation is also a key factor to mental and physical health, as is regular social interaction, regular eustress (a good form of stress that can actually increase our performance at a task and your general happiness and sense of well-being), regular sleep habits for adequate rest, and regular relaxation.
The word “regular” comes from the root “to regulate” which means to keep things in their proper proportions. But, even regulation can become extreme. If you obsess over counting calories, timing your exercise to the second, and stress when you only get seven hours and twenty minutes of sleep, you need to loosen up a bit.
It is not uncommon for people to go from an extremely chaotic lifestyle to an extremely regimented one. Flexibility is critical to a balanced life. Being able to go with the flow is important.
There will be days – even an occasional week when things get out of balance. That is to be expected. It is perfectly OK, as long as you do not allow it to become the “norm” again and slip back into a permanent pattern of imbalance.
Other Possible Dangers
When making the shift from a chaotic, extremely hectic life to a more normal pace, there are some common pitfalls to avoid. One in particular is going to the opposite extreme and taking the stance that life is to be “lived fully.” That you should stop taking life so seriously and do whatever makes you happy – whenever you choose to do it – no matter what anyone else thinks.
This approach also carries with it the potential of great dissatisfaction. Meaning and direction in life, both personally and professionally, are powerful factors that contribute to health, happiness, and fulfillment.
If you remove the meaning from your work, then you remove the reason to work at all. It is the same with life. In fact, many of the happiest people claim that their source of joy comes from finding a deeper meaning to the everyday aspects of living.
The lesson to be learned from all this is that extremes of any kind are dangerous.
Recognize your physical and emotional instincts and live a lifestyle that accommodates them, but does not make you a slave to them.
Moderation and balance are the keys to a peaceful, joyful life.
To live a happy, healthy, balanced life, you must learn to focus your energy on well-being. Self-care on all levels should be an integral part of your lifestyle.
There is an abundance of information available about the benefits of eating well and exercising regularly to sustain a healthy mind and body. In fact, I write about both regularly. But today I want to move in a little different direction.
In addition to those two very basic and critical activities, there are a number of other things you can to improve your mental health and overall well-being. By incorporating them into your daily life, you will be better able to manage most challenges – including struggles with self-doubt, anxiety, and mild depression.
Practices that Focus Your Energy on Well-being
Accept Your Feelings
Stuffing or ignoring your emotions is more damaging than it is helpful. Everyone has emotions. They are a natural part of being human. Bottling them up may seem like a good solution in the moment, but when you do it all the time, you are potentially creating a time bomb that will eventually explode.
Unfortunately, you are hurting yourself as you hold them in and you run the risk of hurting those you love when the eruption finally occurs.
Rather than acknowledging what you are feeling and allowing yourself to experience emotions, you may medicate, rationalize, blame, bury, deny, smother, drink, or stuff them (pretend they don’t exist). Emotions have become the enemy and many people will do anything to avoid them – especially the big three: fear, anger and sadness.
It takes a lot of mental, physical and emotional energy to avoiding your feelings and creates high levels of stress and anxiety.
Don’t stuff your emotions!
Let yourself laugh, cry, scream, yell, or pound something (preferably a pillow, grass, sand – not the wall or someone else). Do whatever you need to do, probably in private is the best choice. But, if emotions erupt in public, excuse yourself and let it rip. This is nature’s way of releasing stress. Don’t beat yourself up afterward!
You must find a safe and sane way to release your emotions (this applies to both men and women). When you continually stuff them, you are endangering your own health and possibly the well-being of others around you.
Stuffed emotions eventually come out – either in the form of a physical illness, a mental break down, or incredible explosions of anger on anyone who happens to be around – including your children, other loved ones, colleagues, and innocent bystanders.
Don’t set up yourself, your family, or friends for these unintended consequences. Consciously begin to let down your guard and experience your feelings – recognize and acknowledge your emotions. Only then will you be able to manage them in a healthy way and relieve the stress that stuffing them is creating.
Be a Risk Taker
Routine and structure are good things. They keep us on track and make life work. However if you are a rule follower to a fault and never do anything spontaneous or out-of-the ordinary, you are missing some interesting adventures that make life more enjoyable.
Don’t let yourself become so regimented and predictable that you may even bore yourself. Life is meant to be lived. When you are not stretching and doing new things – taking risks on a regular basis, you are not growing as a person. Taking risks – even calculated ones can be exciting, rewarding and are definitely good for your mental well-being
Challenge yourself. Make a point of taking some kind of risk every day. They don’t have to be big risks.
If you are shy – make a point of talking to someone new. Learn a new language, take dance or voice lessons or join Toastmasters and learn to speak in public; and other things – like being more trusting or being more assertive. The goal is to push yourself out of your comfort zone regularly.
Take Responsibility for the Life You Have
Too often people spend their entire life blaming others for the life they are living. Everyone has their own experiences – good, bad and in-between. Those experiences definitely impact the way we view life – but they did not have to cripple us.
If you allow yourself to live in the past, continuously suffering for what you have lost or for what others have “done to you,” you will never be able to completely embrace the joys of life that are available to you. They will be lost in the fog of anger and self-pity.
The only way to truly enjoy life is to take responsibility for what you can control and for what you are creating right now – in the present moment. You are what you think about and you have the life that you create by your thoughts and your actions. Take responsibility for that; and start enjoying it.
The past is gone, the future has not yet arrived – all you have is the present, so learn to live in the moment and make it count.
Avoid just coasting through life, being totally unaware of what you are doing – never taking the time to look inside and to assess your behaviors.
Which of your behaviors are serving you and which are not? What factors are driving the behaviors that are not serving you? What is your prevalent attitude about life? What are your thought patterns? Are they helpful and uplifting – or negative and destructive?
What realities about your life are you denying? Bad habits? Self-defeating behaviors? Are you resisting change that would greatly benefit the way you feel?
You do not have to take it on all at once, but a little honest introspection daily – possibly at the end of each day – could work wonders in creating a greater sense of self and well-being.
Laugh Out Loud a Lot
It is time to start laughing – out loud – a lot! Many people take themselves far too seriously. This seems to be a particularly big problem for highly-intelligent people. And, typically a problem that develops as people grow into adulthood. It doesn’t generally afflict children.
Kids laugh about 200 times a day and adults, only 15 times a day at most. Let yourself laugh openly and freely as children do when they are reveling in life.
Read funny books; develop friendships with people who make you laugh; play games with your kids or grandkids; go to funny movies. In other words – have more fun!
Laughter is our way of communicating joy. Researchers have found that when people are joyful, there is a sense of well-being that when sustained, contributes to longevity.
Let the laughter flow openly and freely the way a young child laughs. It will be infectious and others will laugh with you.
Laughter not only provides wonderful psychological benefits, it also has many physical benefits, as well such as improving circulation, boosting the immune system, reducing stress, and normalizing blood pressure.
Finding joyful moments and making time for laughter can make a huge difference in the way you feel and the way you live your life.
My simple prescription for you is to laugh unconditionally every day. It is free – it is fun – there are no adverse side effects – and it will help keep you young (at least young at heart).
Focusing on Your Well-being Is not Difficult
Improving your well-being does not have to be as difficult or complex as you may imagine. By using the five tips here, you can easily discover that you feel better, you are less stressed, and that you are able to enjoy life more.
I am not telling you to ignore the importance of eating well, regular exercise and getting adequate rest. I am telling you to recognize that there is much more to a person’s overall well-being than those basic components.
A high-level of self-awarenes (how you act and how you feel) can impact your well-being in significant ways.
The frenetic lifestyle that many people live today is very harmful. Rushing here and there, being constantly on call, balancing multiple layers of responsibility may give you a sense of accomplishment – even make you feel important, but it takes a huge toll on every aspect of life.
When you constantly push yourself to take on more and more challenges, it is easy to lose sight of why you wanted to be successful in the first place. For many, the reason was to be able to spend less time working and enjoy life more. A frenetic, high-pressure lifestyle creates exactly the opposite.
There is a very dark side to constantly pushing yourself to produce more and more. Unfortunately, it creeps up on you and becomes a serious case of self-negligence.
When you are busy and driven every minute of every day and well into the evening, it is easy to neglect important things in life that keep you healthy, happy, and create quality of life. A continual stream of urgent tasks that must be completed will overshadow the not-so-urgent, but important activities that make life worth living.
It is not just physical well-being that is neglected – mental and emotional well-being also suffer when there is no time for self-care.
Areas of Neglect
When your daily schedule is crammed to overflowing one of the first areas of neglect is your diet. Eating regular, nutritious meals become a thing of the past. You are not only too busy to sleep or even take a deep breath now and then, there is no time to prepare decent meals
Convenience foods, frozen dinners, take out and fast foods become the norm. It is a steady diet of additive filled, sugar and fat-filled dishes, loaded with empty calories that provide minimal nutrition and damage the body. It is impossible to sustain any level of good health on such a diet.
When you burn the candle at both ends, there is a good chance you will pay the price of poor health. Inadequate rest carries both short- and long-term consequences.
Short-term lack of sleep can affect moods, cognitive ability, memory, judgment and increase the risk of accidents and injury.
Long-term, chronic sleep deprivation can set you on the path to serious health problems such cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even early death.
In addition to endangering your own health, you may also be endangering others because of the toll it takes on your perception and judgement. In the work place it results in inefficiency, decreased productivity, and dangerous mistakes that can cause accidents. And, of course, driving while exhausted can be deadly.
Far too many people are overweight in the United States and obesity is on the rise. Many are calling it an epidemic of the 21st Century. This is primarily the result of poor diet and lack of exercise, which are the result of busy, hectic, work-focused lifestyles.
Regular exercise is a critical factor in maintaining good health. That will never change. When it is a missing piece, sustainable good health is nearly impossible. Even if you take the time to eat well – if you live a completely sedentary life, you are putting your health in jeopardy.
Lack of exercise is as deadly as smoking. Physical inactivity has been declared the culprit in the rising death rates from coronary disease, type 2 diabetes, plus breast and colon cancer.
You should never be too busy to exercise!
Busy people forget to have fun (re-create themselves). If you ask a very busy professional what s/he does for fun, the answer may be anything from a blank stare to a quick, “Who has time for fun?”
This may not seem serious at first glance; but, never having time for fun and relaxation can have serious negative impact on mental and emotional stability. They are just as important to good health as nutrition, exercise, and sleep.
Hobbies, play, relaxation techniques, and simple fun activities have therapeutic and regenerative effects on both physical and mental health.
Studies show that people with anger management issues or who struggle with anxiety and/or depression can often trace the cause back to a lack of joy in life that is found in fun and relaxing activities with friends and family.
Regardless of your profession – doctor, chef, mechanic, professional athlete, or garbage man – you need time to unwind and enjoy yourself
Without fun and relaxation as a significant part of your lifestyle, you are setting yourself up for problems related to chronic stress.
Stress is a killer! It leads to obesity, heart attacks, high blood pressure, chronic headaches, depression, and temporary personality disorders, etc. It can also destroy relationships, break up families, and decrease the desire to continue living. There is no aspect of life that is free from the necrotic touch of chronic stress.
Dreams No Longer Matter
Another serious danger of a frenetic lifestyle is that you can eventually reach a point where dreams no longer matter, which can alter the course of your life.
Life-long dreams – the catalyst to your ambition – the ideals that pulled you into the future may dim and eventually disappear completely from your consciousness.
After years of life-draining work, the dream can be forgotten and replaced by the time-consuming, demanding career that takes everything you have to give.
No one intentionally gives up on achieving their dreams, but the intense focus of a person’s mind, life, and soul around the means to the end eventually becomes the end in itself, leaving no room for the original dreams to exist.
When a person places all his time, talent, and energy on something long enough, that “something” begins to absorb the entire mind and becomes the central focus of his life. It is the only thing that his mind is capable of comprehending – and possibly the only that he is capable of wanting.
He loses his healthy zest for life, and he has nothing but obligations, responsibilities, and productivity goals – with no end point in sight. Life is about the work and nothing more.
Living in a constant rush of cortisol and adrenaline, a person loses the ability to enjoy friends, family, hobbies and life – hopes and dreams for the future no longer exist.
Instead of enjoying life, one merely tries to beat it.
Don’t Let Life Lose Its Meaning
Living every day filled with hectic, intense activity and constant stress creates an existence of a meaningless chain of milestones that lead nowhere.
You must take the time to stop! Disconnect! Breathe!
You must remember that life exists outside of work. Without the little moments of love, joy, laughter, and even struggles, life is meaningless.
Setting goals and milestones can be great as long as you don’t forget why you set them. There were reasons – don’t lose sight of those.
On the other hand, everyone has crazy days or weeks now and then – that is part of life in the world today. But notice, I said “now and then” not all the time. SLOW DOWN and LIVE!