The image below struck me as I walked downstairs after tucking my two children into bed this evening.
One bag full of uniform, kit, pencil cases and the like, one pair of trainers and a new cricket bat all ready for the off tomorrow morning after a lovely Easter break. It represents an action packed term for a seven year old. Once he walks in through the classroom door at 8.15am tomorrow he’ll be caught up in the whirlwind of term. Lessons, playtimes, games, clubs, activities, fixtures, home work, play dates, the ins and outs and ups and downs of young friendships. A full seven weeks until half term and there will be no let up.
Our working lives are the same. If you have just returned to work after some family time, if you haven’t been lucky enough to have any time ‘off’ lately or if you are embarking on a new project at work, we could all, very quickly, find ourselves caught up in the same kind of whirlwind that faces my son.
We all know that work can be relentless. Whether you are an employee or an employer there are deadlines to be met, responsibilities to uphold, duties to be carried out, tricky relationships to negotiate, manage and develop. All too often we let the whirlwind take over and don’t give ourselves time to switch off, take stock of things, reassess and change tack if needed. Over the coming weeks and months, or for the duration of your current project or until the next holiday that you might be lucky enough to have booked, try to make a bit of time for yourself and let the whirlwind die down, even if just for half an hour every now and again. Sport, exercise, reading, walking, massage (of course, I couldn’t let that opportunity slip could I?), family time, cooking, meditation, cinema, whatever it is that works for you, make time for it.
As the old Buddhist saying goes ‘You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you are too busy, in which case you should sit for an hour’! I’m sure that in the 21st century many people won’t consider turning to meditation as their ‘me time’ activity (although following a recent chance meeting with the Course Director of the British School of Meditation, Mary Pearson, I have found some simple breathing meditation techniques to be really effective of late, after having read the copy of her book that she kindly gave me!). Think instead, if you’d prefer, about substituting ‘sit in meditation’ from the saying above with ‘cook / read / have a massage / walk / talk / switch off your devices’.
Make time to relax and allow yourself to be seen to be at rest by those who matter to you, even if just for half an hour. After all, we don’t want our inability to switch off from the whirlwind of work to create a generation of seven year olds with cricket bats that think that this never ending whirlwind of routine is the norm that prevents us from having fun!