By Olivia Montes
Elm Staff Writer
With feelings of exhaustion, frustration, and immense stress, it can be difficult to find time to wind down and relax in the wonderful world of free time — or even what to do with it once it can be squeezed in.
“Deciding how to spend time is a clearly consequential decision,” Quartz’ Ashley Williams said in 2018.“But what may not be so obvious is exactly how our decisions about how to spend time relate to our moment-to-moment and long-term happiness.”
Williams explains, while we attempt to occupy ourselves by doing busy tasks on top of others, we inadvertently limit time for doing activities we like that relax us at the end of the day.
This phenomenon, also known as time stress, is the feeling that, despite our best efforts to manage it, we are constantly running out of time — because we have no idea what to do with it.
As humans, we feel the pressure to make ourselves appear busy to set our scurrying, frazzled minds focused on one topic at a time, and consistently deem ourselves lazy or unaccomplished when we choose to relax rather than work. Humans figure that once the responsibilities of reality begin to take a toll on young adults, the concept of enough down time on our hands to do what relaxes us appears a fantasy.
But it is not impossible.
“If you have today off, take a conscious stand against all this busyness,” The New York Times’ Tim Herrera said in Sept. 2019. “Being busy — if we even are busy — is rarely the status indicator we’ve come to believe it is.”
Being busy has not become the pinnacle of accomplishment nor has it helped humans to appreciate the benefits of working so hard all the time.
Instead, it has constantly turned into the main source of stress for billions of people across the globe, and it has to stop now.
To give ourselves the proper break from the weekly workload, we given the opportunity to do so, we first need to address that we are indeed very busy and that we need to take an honest day’s break.
“The important question,” Williams said, “becomes which source of well-being should be optimized to translate into greater well-being each day and over the course of people’s lives.”
We first need to realize that life is short — we cannot waste any more time doing unrealistic amounts of work, day after day, night after night.
We need to act fast and do what we love while we still have the time to do it — when we possess more of the mindset that we need to savor the time we have left within our existence, the more time we can actually spend doing what we love with those we love.
“Realizing the preciousness of time encourages people to extract greater happiness from even the most mundane activities,” Williams said.
We also need to find the strength to take it easy. Because our free time is limited, we need to take a deep breath and let our days relax us naturally.
“[The pressure of time]… takes participants out of the moment and splits their attention,” TIME Magazine’s Jamie Ducharme said in 2018. “When it comes to free time, letting the day unfold organically is a better strategy.”
But the most important thing to remember is that we focus too much on what we could have done with our free time in the past rather than what we could do today in the present. We need to live our lives to the best of our ability and by our own accord.
We must go out and do something we love before the opportunity slips away before we could grab it.
Because if we do what we love at least for an hour each day, it will all be worth it.
“Time pressure is the uncomfortable gap between how we wish we spent our time and how we’re actually spending and feeling about it,” Newman said.
“With that in mind, if we can make the choice to fill even part of our days with things we enjoy and manage to not feel conflicted about them, we might just find some room to breathe,” she said.