We all know that in the whirlwind of modern life, it is more important than ever to take time off and prioritize self-care: take a walk in the woods, sit quietly watching rain fall, meditate…
Yet, while the thought sounds lovely, most of us have the perfect excuse for moving those ‘chicken-soup for the soul’ moments to the waaaayy bottom of our To-Do lists.
“I just have too much to do!”
“I’m just too busy!!”
If that’s you: stressed, frazzled, frantic–yet unable to figure out how on earth getting grounded fits into your overflowing schedule–then keep reading.
Goldmine of extra time
Jennifer Aniston knows the feeling:
“Everything is sort of coming at us on a daily basis. People are working harder, and with social media and all the things we have to keep up with, there isn’t enough time in the day to keep ourselves sane,” Aniston summed it up for InStyle.
Being one of the most beloved Hollywood actress comes with many perks, she still has just 24 hours in her day, like the rest of us.
Instead of making excuses, however, Aniston gets real about who the hungry monsters gobbling up our precious time really are, and carves out a chunk of her schedule every morning to go for a run, walk her dog, and practice Transcendental Meditation.
So what’s her secret?
To start off her day with these uplifting morning rituals, Aniston digs time from a goldmine which we all have access to: ditching newsfeeds, status updates and any needless checking of email.
“My mornings are very special to me, so I try not to have any of that noise for a good chunk of time,” Aniston explained.
So she resists thumbing through tweets and delays sneaking a peek at her Inbox as long as she possibly can.
“It’s an experiment and something I’m still trying to perfect, but I love doing it.”
Reality check on screen-time
It seems like when it comes to swapping selfies for self-care, Aniston is on to something.
According to a 2017 report, the average internet user spends over 2 hours per day on social media and messaging services.
If you ditch even half of that staring at the glowing screen, that’s a whole extra free hour right there.
With that time, you can not only practice the well-proven Transcendental Meditation technique to relieve stress and get yourself at the peak of your physical and mental health, but even go for a leisurely walk.
By cutting back even more on YouTube, Facebook and WhatsApp, you can sneak even more self-care into each of your day.
In Terry Pratchett’s humorous novel Thief of Time, there are monks whose role is to move and store time.
By means of spinning Tibetan-prayer-wheel like cylinders called Procrastinators they take time from the middle of the ocean (‘how much time does a codfish need?’) and direct it into busy metropolitan workshops with deadlines to meet.
Similarly, we can spin our own Procrastinators in a way that takes time away from our online activities and channel it to pastimes that truly leave us feeling rested and re-charged.
Why self-care is self-less
Sometimes people find the concept of prioritizing self-care off-putting because it feels sort of selfish: “Shouldn’t I be doing something for other people instead?”
Yet, as Aniston wisely remarks, self-care is often the best way to ensure that you are being truly nice to everyone else.
“It’s not fair for the next guy you’re gonna run into if you’re in a crappy, crappy mood from being overworked and overstressed,” the actress argues.
Beating the digital addiction – one less click at a time
Once you are aware of how much time your social media use really swallows, it’s up to you to decide whether you need more self-care or selfies in your life.
At first it might be a tough switch to make. After all, lots of time, money and effort goes into designing the looks and algorithms of popular platforms to make them addictive both in the short run (have you ever gone to “just check up on one thing” on Facebook and then ended up spending two hours browsing the newsfeed?) and over time.
After all, why do you think Steve Jobs was so adamant about not letting his kids get their hands on an ipad? As Wired commented on the widespread phenomenon of tech giants refusing to have their own children engage with digital devices: “It seemed as if they were following the cardinal rule of drug dealing: never get high on your own supply.”
The good news is that many of the activities Aniston advocates, including Transcendental Meditation and exercise, help to also fight addictions, including those of the glowing screen.
So, take her advice, tune out the noise of tweets and tune into the soothing silence of the inner real “me.”