Our need to take time out

“Needs”. A term perhaps over-used these days and often misused when actually describing a ‘want’. Our basic biological needs are things such as food, shelter, warmth, security, sex – the same as all mammals. But what about our mental and emotional needs, these might be more individual and complex: to feel loved, respected, heard, understood etc.
One of the needs that we all have as human beings (and often ignore) is the need for self care; this is the need to nourish ourselves physically, mentally and emotionally. We may even feel guilty about having that need, feeling it to be ‘selfish’ or ‘indulgent’ to put ourselves first. But how can we authentically engage with others if we are not looking after ourselves first? – Parenting can be a classic case of this and I have been guilty of it myself, feeling my daughter should come first and putting aside what I need simply to parent. This is wrong! If I am not alright, she cannot be alright! Putting my own needs including the need to take time out to regroup and relax actually makes me a better parent, not a negligent one. Obviously I make sure she is properly cared for whilst I take my time out but I no longer feel guilty about it.
The need to take time out is simply not respected in our culture and and in that sense we are not respecting ourselves. I feel this cultural mindset is getting more prevalent with longer working hours and ever-increasing demands on our time. My clients often show the physical symptoms of stress born from simply not taking time out for themselves. When we relax in a nourishing way, we allow ourselves to reconnect, really feel our feelings, understand our own truths and make better choices about the paths we subsequently take. Including how to deal with life’s anxieties in a positive way.
Many times we actively choose distraction (mistaking it for relaxation) simply to avoid ourselves and our own truths, the truths that surface when we truly relax and allow our minds to be quiet. Yes, these truths can be distressing and uncomfortable but once they are acknowledged they can be worked through and let go – and that letting go is so liberating! That’s the key to inner peace right there folks!
So how do we fulfil our need to connect with ourselves, avoid distraction and find peace? Well, nature is a great way to do this. A long walk (wrap up warm!), or an outdoors hobby such as gardening or fishing can be great ways to relax and reconnect, walking the dog, horseriding – whatever floats your boat. Other people find immersing themselves in crafts such as knitting, sewing or painting useful ways to relax. Exercise is another healthy option – getting fit will help both body and mind. My personal favourite ways to relax are yoga and cooking, I’ve also discovered a love of writing. However, sometimes a soak in the bath and a good book are just as good. Not everyone has a hobby or interest but to those people I’d say ‘go and try everything’, eventually you’ll find something that you like to do, or at least a group of people you like doing things with.
I have some quite strong views on the damaging effects of inappropriate use of wifi and screen time but I’ll save those for another day. Suffice to say that watching TV or being hooked to Facebook or anything else on an electronic device is not nourishing and relaxing. It’s the very opposite of connecting with yourself and others. It’s the most used distraction of today, often mistaken for a healthy way to relax and thought to be linked with ever increasing levels of depression and anxiety across all age groups. So take time out to truly relax and switch off from your devices for a while too – you can do it! – fresh air isn’t supplied by an app – not yet anyway!